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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2010-11-11

WORKSHOP DIARIES: Eddie Adams Workshop
'Much of the weekend is about shooting and listening.'

By Brooke LaValley

I recently completed the Eddie Adams Barnstorm Workshop XXIII 2010,
Photo by Brooke LaValley

Photo by Brooke LaValley

Chip Maury speaks to Chris Griffin about his work during the Eddie Adams Workshop in Jeffersonville, NY on October 11, 2010.
every second of this experience, from the moment I opened the acceptance letter to waving goodbye, was completely life changing. It’s difficult to describe the Eddie Adams Workshop because you need either ten words or one million. As Al Bello said during his presentation, “You work, and then you work, and then you keep working. And you don’t stop. You never stop. ”

First off, I would like to state that although I never had the opportunity to meet Eddie Adams, I feel that he is present in every part of this weekend. Every handshake you get with someone you never though you’d meet, every moment spent lying in the grass talking about images, every speaker delivering their lecture with such love and care feels as if it’s being done in memory of the legacy this man has left behind. For those who do not know, Eddie Adams (1933-2004) was a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist who covered 13 wars and was recognized by over 500 awards during his lifetime. He founded the Workshop along with his wife Alyssa Adams, who generously continues the legacy.

I was assigned to the “Red” team, lead by Getty photographer Al Bello, edited by New York Times editor Brad Smith and produced by freelance photographer Suzy Allman. Our Multimedia Editor was Lauren Feeney. From the moment we all sat together on the top of a sunny hill overlooking the barn we were friends, sharing short introductions and smiling into the bright sunlight. Our team was called “The Big Adventure” and featured members from all over the world- James Hill had traveled from Sydney, Australia, Erini Vourloumis would soon be traveling back to Greece. All ages and proficiencies were there, some members had produced films and others had barely shot digital.

Our team focused on adventure sports- skydiving, mountain climbing, cliff jumping. Excitement. By the end of Friday night our group got our assignments and Al Bello left us with a tip- “f22 turns the sun into a star. You all know that, right? F22- sun into a star.”

Interlude alert: There is not one moment this entire weekend (especially when you are walking up the hill on the first day receiving a rock stars welcome) that you do not feel very much like the luckiest person on the face of the earth. You know that feeling when you are standing on the turf with a camera in your hands with thousands of screaming fans surrounding you while you shoot an amazing team? It’s like that, all weekend. You actually have the chance to shake hands with people you wrote papers about in college. As my former roommate Bettina Hansen likes to say EAW is a “Disney Land for Photographers” which includes brief introductions with your role models (who, btw, are totally normal and easy to talk to) and finding out that they, too, shot high school football at one point.


Photo by Brooke LaValley

Photo by Brooke LaValley

Al Bello relaxes on the deck of the barn during the Eddie Adams Workshop in Jeffersonville, NY on October 11, 2010.
Much of the weekend is about shooting and listening. There is a time for asking, which is later. Bring a book to take notes in, take a recorder. Hal Buell was the ever-enthusiastic MC who is patient, kind, and rules the clock with an iron fist. Some of the most notable speakers of the weekend were Al Bello, Howard Schatz, James Colton, Lynn Goldsmith, Carolyn Cole, Chris Anderson, Ami Vitale…but there were so, so many more. People who spoke were so passionate about their work. Although there are accomplished photographers speaking onstage you are surrounded by others who do not speak but are there to help, my friend Chris Griffin and I got to see a personal presentation by Chip Maury on Monday afternoon.” We all speak the same language, we just have different accents.” -Chip Maury

Once the first day of shooting has ended you converge and edit. Some people, myself included, had problems with their first day of shooting and had to make up for it the next day. OK so I had a major problem….I went the wrong way and ended up in White Plains when I should’ve been in Hunter, NY. That realization washed over me like a wave of hot, searing, scorching blistering painful lava that was on fire, twice. My first instinct was to fix it, I called Zip line Adventures (my assignment for the team) and rescheduled for early the next morning. I let Suzy and Brad know what was going on, drove back to the barn and rejoined my new friends. Later that evening I showed my work at the 11:30 club (where I got to meet Michael Wichita from AARP, Jim Estrin of the Lens Blog, Linda Epstein of McClatchy/Tribune and Maura Foley from NYT) (I was shaking the whole time) and went to bed for the next hour and a half. I woke up at five AM to beat the dawn, chatted with Suzy Allman in the lobby of the Days Inn and set off to Hunter. It was a beautiful morning and I felt slightly delirious from lack of sleep and the feeling of pure joy that I was on my way to shoot the hell out of this thing. As Clay Patrick McBride would state later that weekend, “Every problem in your life can be solved with discipline.”

I arrived at Zip line Adventures with a few ideas in my head. Zip line = motion surrounded by the beauty of a tree canopy. The only problem was that tree canopy = spotty lighting, a problem that I wouldn’t exactly solve during my shoot. Upon arrival I discovered that no one, including the “grounds manager” of the place, knew that I was coming to photograph the session. Walking in with my cameras I was greeted with a “Hello” and a “How do I know that you are who you say you are?”, the last words you want to hear as a photographer. The grounds manager had a crazy look in his eyes, he surveyed me as I walked around shooting photos of kids putting on their helmets and families preparing to zip line. I was directed into his office in search of background information on the site, and was immediately asked if I was a “journalist” or a “photojournalist” because, according to this man, they are two completely different things. He informed me that if I was a photographer, I should not think that I was a journalist. He also inquired as to whether they had taught me that in school. Leaning over his desk, he peered into my eyes. “Ok, so I believe that you are who you say you are because I have looked into your eyes, and I think you are telling the truth.” Obviously, these signs were reading trouble.

Soon after this interaction a man walked in holding a small postcard and a smile. He turned to me, introduced himself as the Zip line “staff photographer” and asked what I thought I was doing there. So, dear reader, take a moment to image this scenario- I am backed into the corner of the zip line offices with one angry photographer to my right and an insane grounds manager to my left. Of course, I start tearing up out of pure fear (I’m not really a crier, ok?) The grounds manager begins shouting at the photographer, accusing him of making a woman cry in his office. The photographer yells back, and a physical fight began to ensue. A zip line worker runs into the office, breaks it up and I make my way out of the tiny room. A zip line cashier walks up to me and informs me that my payment has been refunded and I am free to leave on my zip line tour. I had originally been slightly afraid of the heights involved in this trip, but honestly nothing could’ve been as scary as what had happened just moments before. Adventure sports begin!

Shooting this assignment was interesting. I had problems with the AF setting on the camera, and because I am usually a Canon shooter it was challenging to work it out so I ended up shooting the whole thing on manual which was a little tough while trying to track the subject on the zip line. Overall it was great, I was using a Nikon D3s with a set of three lenses so generously donated by Nikon for use over the weekend. The lengths that Nikon will go to take care of beginning photographers continually impress me, it’s enough to make you want to switch brands. Soon I was headed back to the barn, I couldn’t wait to rejoin my team.

Photo by Brooke LaValley

Photo by Brooke LaValley

Students and professionals dance together on the final night of the Eddie Adams Workshop at the Days Inn in Liberty, NY on October 11, 2010.
Sunday afternoon there was a beautiful ceremony commemorating Larry Burrows, Huynh Thanh My, Henri Huet, Michael Laurent, Kent Potter, Sandy Colton and Eddie Adams. This was a very spiritual, quiet time. Afterward we shared dinner and heard a few more speakers. We were presented with a panel featuring Santiago Lyon, director of photography at the Associated Press, Michele McNally, assisting managing editor at the New York Times and David Griffin, executive editor for E-publishing at National Geographic. Each speaker gave insight into ways that a beginner can come closer to being successful in today’s industry, and they stressed the importance of being a great photographer as well as a storyteller. Later we headed out to the bonfire where some danced, some talked, some just enjoyed the time together. Later that night was the final 11:30 club where I found myself nodding off while waiting for Melissa Lyttle (sorry Melissa!) but had the opportunity to meet with other amazing editors.

Finally…Monday. Some napped, some talked, some played Frisbee with Jimmy Colton. We shared our work with each other and heard more speakers that afternoon. Each of us met with our editors to go over the strengths and weaknesses of what we had shot that weekend. Each of us had a personal edit with our team leaders letting us know the strengths and weaknesses of our shoot. Brad Smith talked to me about shooting in spotty lighting and the best ways to resolve my problem in the future, Al Bello talked about images he thought were strong and others that needed some work. Later we had dinner and a presentation showing the work of each team, there was so much cheering that most of us were hoarse by the end of it all. Awards were announced, and everyone yelled and clapped to congratulate each other, high-fiving and back slapping the winners. I won an AP assignment! Most of the Red Teamers won some kind of award.

Later was the party. I saw a few of my favorite photographers and workshop-mates doing keg stands and some pretty solid dance moves. We laughed, we cried, we fell asleep at the foot of someone’s bed.

Driving away the next day I saw Al Bello and a group of friends walking back to the hotel, honked, waved and started crying my eyes out because it was all over. And even though it will never happen again, at least not the same way, there is beauty in that. I will never forget the events of this weekend. My only wish is that I could do it all again. Hello Black Team application!

F22 for life!!!


Brooke LaValley is currently located in Columbus, OH completing an internship at The Columbus Dispatch while I finish my final class at Ohio University. You can see her work at her Sports Shooter member page:
http://www.sportsshooter.com/members.html?id=8617 and at her personal website: http://www.brookelavalley.com.


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