Eddie Adams Workshop
In 1976, when Pulitzer Prize winner Eddie Adams bought a bygone dairy farm in Jeffersonville, New York – only 15 miles away from where the Woodstock festival had been held 7 years before – he said he wanted to create a “foto farm”. What this would come to mean became clear 12 years later, when Adams and his wife Alyssa inaugurated Barnstorm: The Eddie Adams Workshop. In the heart of autumn, the couple invited 100 hand-picked young photographers to meet with top photojournalism professionals during a 4-day boot camp – a set-up described by one attendant as: “No sleep, no time, no room for failure”. The premise was simple: to let aspiring photographers share ideas, techniques, philosophies and work with established professionals could save them valuable time in their career. At the end of each workshop, a handful of scholarships, internships and editorial assignments are awarded.
Strangely, what participants most recall is the lack of competitive tension among them: “The point wasn’t to out-do each other, but rather to exist, to learn and to inspire each other”. And this is what Eddie Adams wanted Barnstorm to be: a forum full of people, warmth and ideas where photography is a common passion and photojournalism a common mission. The students are divided into 10 groups of 10 and led into daily assignments in the surrounding towns and country-side sprinkled with all imaginable shades of autumn leaves. At night, their work is reviewed, edited and commented upon by their mentors. But the essence of the workshop may be the spirit of community that bubbles up in only 4 days and becomes the foundation for life-long friendships – ties that are most valuable for any photographer.
It seems that Barnstorm does not only benefit the students. Over the years, such esteemed professionals as Alfred Eisenstaedt, Cornell Capa, Mary Ellen Mark or Nick Ut have volunteered at the workshop. And, since 1988, not much has changed – if not the shift from film to digital photography, and, sadly, the death of Eddie Adams in 2004. Barnstorm is as much part of Adam’s legacy as his incredibly rich and eclectic photo archive. The most unique feature of this one-of-a-kind photo workshop may be that it is completely tuition-free, the students being selected for the quality of their portfolios. Applications for this year’s 25th Anniversary edition are due by May 25th, 2012.