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|| News Item: Posted 2010-11-11

WORKSHOP DIARIES: Eddie Adams workshop
'Going to bed at 2 or 3am was the norm. It was exhausting but incredibly refreshing…'

By Patrick Fallon

In the few years I have been in college, I have been fortunate to participate in quite a few photography workshops. While each has had their own inspirational focus and personality, I feel that the Eddie Adams Workshop has been the most unique of them all.

Photo by Partrick Fallon

Photo by Partrick Fallon

Joshua Jackson, 3 has his hair cut by owner Anthony at Anthony's Barber Shop in Liberty, NY on Saturday Oct. 9, 2010. Photographed during the Eddie Adams Workshop in Jeffersonville, NY. 2010
As much as people told me how wonderful the workshop would be, I didn’t know what was in store yet. Its something you cannot prepare enough for – you realize you just have to try to get your ducks in a row and accept that if you were accepted to the workshop, its for a reason.

The first day as we were leaving the hotel, I realized I had left my phone in the room. I asked my friend Anjali Pinto if she needed anything as I was going back for my phone. She turns to me and said, “Why do you need your phone? Anyone you could possibly want to talk to is already here at this workshop.”

As I quickly found out, Anjali was absolutely right: Enough planning, it was time to soak in the experience.

We got off the bus and were greeted with a jog up the hill to the farm, cheered on by hundreds of volunteers with the single goal of giving every student there the best experience possible. The sea of people didn’t feel like one of total strangers, but a group of friends. Some were photographers I had the pleasure of meeting before across the country, some would be new friends by the end of the weekend, but all were here in one place to learn, teach and grow together.

The 100 workshop participants are from across the country in a variety of photographic disciplines – photojournalism, portraiture, sports photography, commercial studio work, and more. The workshop’s students are not from a single area of photography, nor are the faculty and presentations.

In just one weekend we saw the latest work at SI from Jimmy and Steve – but soon enough we were looking at the themes and characters Sarah Small explores in her photography and the challenges Ami Vitale faced to gain access to a wrestling club in India with a strict males only policy.

Seeing work that was outside my normal realm really interested me, it made me think how much is out there, how much is possible, and how there are aspects of photography that I have yet to explore.

Unlike most workshops, at Eddie the faculty members outnumber the students: some of the industry’s top photographers and editors give up over a weekend of their time simply to give back to the next generation of up-and-coming photographers. Having so many people willing to support and foster you and the other students is humbling to say the least.

Nikon’s Sam Garcia would introduce the speakers, give a brief bio and highlight some of their recent accomplishments. It was not uncommon to hear those bios include accolades for winning a Pulitzer Prize, BOP, or POYi awards. Yet they were incredibly down to earth: open to answer any question, give an honest critique, or just talk about life over dinner.

The faculty and team of alumni volunteers, the “Black Team” took care of almost every detail imaginable in order to let the students focus on soaking up as much knowledge as possible. Every morning started with a 7am bus ride to the Farm – an intense day of speakers, critiques, conversation, and shooting – followed by a ride back to the hotel for the 11:30 club, a portfolio review session.

Going to bed at 2 or 3am was the norm. It was exhausting but incredibly refreshing and would not have been possible without the Black Team making everything run so well, some freezing their nose off while pulling security outside for the night. You start to realize that every volunteer there is incredibly tired, but is loving every minute of it because they are back at the farm, part of a very tight knit family.

As much as the workshop was inspirational and exciting, it was certainly a challenge. During part of the weekend, participants complete a story or essay framed around their teams theme. While a relatively small part of the weekend, it is an opportunity to get feedback from your team leaders and make some pictures.

My team, the Yellow Team, had the theme of “Guilty Pleasures and Passions” – each person had a story lead sourced in advanced by our team producers.

But as in the real world, story leads don’t always work out as planned. The festival I was going to use as a jumping off point was essentially non-existent, so I had only a few hours to come up with a new idea to shoot. Not exactly an unfamiliar situation for me but always a gamble. I found Anthony’s Barbershop in downtown Liberty, N.Y., a cool, funky independent shop that you could just tell was a local hotspot in the community. While a picture story on a barbershop is certainly nothing new or edgy, I got to spend my afternoon getting to know complete strangers, meeting a few new friends and making some pictures.

Turns out one customer was getting a shave and a haircut for his wedding day, another had his son and himself getting haircuts that day, and a third had just moved to work at a slaughterhouse. It is interesting what people will tell you when you are just willing to listen, the people were kind and accepting, some knowing the history of the workshop, others curious to find out more.

The workshop was also a challenge not just due to a lack of sleep from long days shooting and learning, but because it is possible to receive so many different viewpoints on your work and portfolio that you can lose focus and faith in what you have. At one point after a night at the 11:30 club, I felt like someone had taken me and thrown me through a blender – my portfolio edit was out of wack, I didn’t like any of my pictures anymore. But at the workshop, you’re never alone.

Jay Drowns, Andrew Gombert, and my team leader John Moore gave me the support I needed and helped me to put everything back in perspective a bit: figuring out where I needed to improve my work and also seeing what I do well. It took a few days after the workshop was over but I realized that beyond the great friendships and connections I built from my time at the workshop, I realized how important it is to keep your life in perspective.

The one thing every professional at Eddie had in common was the work they did; the pictures they showed represented them. If you lose that ability to judge what represents you – you’ll feel like I did going through that blender.

Patrick T. Fallon is a senior photojournalism student at the University of Missouri. To see more of his recent work, check out his photo blog at

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