Tag Archives: Upstate New York

Fostering the Next Generation: The Eddie Adams Workshop at 25 Years

The Eddie Adams Workshop is considered by many to be the premiere photojournalism workshop, shaping its 100 young attendees into professional and award-winning photographers over a long weekend each year in upstate New York. Alyssa Adams, Eddie’s widow and the producer of the workshop, writes for LightBox about the workshop’s legacy as it celebrates its 25th year this weekend.

Eddie had a singular vision for a “foto farm” back in 1988: Bring 100 young photojournalism students together with seasoned pros (his “heroes” as he called them)—shut them away in a barn upstate, shoot, show work. The Workshop would be inspiration-based (not a how-to), pros would donate their time and it would be tuition-free with entry based on the quality of a student’s portfolio.

Eddie always said he wanted to attend a forum like this when he was coming up, one where he could meet his personal heroes and picture editors from major publications. We listened in awe, amazed at the living history, when Eddie’s heroes spoke at the barn—Alfred Eisenstadt, Gordon Parks, Carl Mydans, Joe Rosenthal, Bill Eppridge, Nick Ut, among others.

Working as a photographer can be a very solitary experience. So, back in the day when there were no “internets” (yes, no Facebook, no TED) and film was still the medium (rolls were bussed to the Time-Life lab and processed overnight), Barnstorm became not only a source of inspiration but also a refuge. It still remains a “recharging station”—both students and pros emerge reinvigorated by comparing notes on how all of us are creatively dealing with the economics of the business, the dangers of being a journalist, the crazy-fast advances in digital technology and constant self re-invention.

We were amazed that we pulled the first one off in 1988 and had no idea it would continue past that. Fast-forward to our 25th Workshop this October—the formula remains the same, but is now a much more layered experience. And Eddie’s legacy is evident: Our first students are now our teachers. Alumni have gone on to win every major award in the business (there are ten Pulitzer-prize winning photographers among them.) They are now our heroes in the barn.

Looking back through two decades of Workshop files (15 years analog in metal cabinets!), I found a sponsor proposal Eddie put together in 1991—The Eddie Adams Workshop: China/Europe/South America. Blowing off the dust on it now…

Alyssa Adams is a deputy photo editor at TV Guide. She is also the director of operations at Bathhouse Studios, a photo rental studio in NYC.

She and her husband, Eddie Adams, co-created The Eddie Adams Workshop in 1988. She now serves as the executive director. Adams is currently working on a new monograph on Eddie’s work with the University of Texas Press, where Eddie’s archives are housed. In 2008 she produced Eddie Adams: Vietnam. Adams was formerly the director of photography at Miramax Films and an award-winning graphic designer with Carbone Smolan Associates.

Fostering the Next Generation: The Eddie Adams Workshop at 25 Years

The Eddie Adams Workshop is considered by many to be the premiere photojournalism workshop, shaping its 100 young attendees into professional and award-winning photographers over a long weekend each year in upstate New York. Alyssa Adams, Eddie’s widow and the producer of the workshop, writes for LightBox about the workshop’s legacy as it celebrates its 25th year this weekend.

Eddie had a singular vision for a “foto farm” back in 1988: Bring 100 young photojournalism students together with seasoned pros (his “heroes” as he called them)—shut them away in a barn upstate, shoot, show work. The Workshop would be inspiration-based (not a how-to), pros would donate their time and it would be tuition-free with entry based on the quality of a student’s portfolio.

Eddie always said he wanted to attend a forum like this when he was coming up, one where he could meet his personal heroes and picture editors from major publications. We listened in awe, amazed at the living history, when Eddie’s heroes spoke at the barn—Alfred Eisenstadt, Gordon Parks, Carl Mydans, Joe Rosenthal, Bill Eppridge, Nick Ut, among others.

Working as a photographer can be a very solitary experience. So, back in the day when there were no “internets” (yes, no Facebook, no TED) and film was still the medium (rolls were bussed to the Time-Life lab and processed overnight), Barnstorm became not only a source of inspiration but also a refuge. It still remains a “recharging station”—both students and pros emerge reinvigorated by comparing notes on how all of us are creatively dealing with the economics of the business, the dangers of being a journalist, the crazy-fast advances in digital technology and constant self re-invention.

We were amazed that we pulled the first one off in 1988 and had no idea it would continue past that. Fast-forward to our 25th Workshop this October—the formula remains the same, but is now a much more layered experience. And Eddie’s legacy is evident: Our first students are now our teachers. Alumni have gone on to win every major award in the business (there are ten Pulitzer-prize winning photographers among them.) They are now our heroes in the barn.

Looking back through two decades of Workshop files (15 years analog in metal cabinets!), I found a sponsor proposal Eddie put together in 1991—The Eddie Adams Workshop: China/Europe/South America. Blowing off the dust on it now…

Alyssa Adams is a deputy photo editor at TV Guide. She is also the director of operations at Bathhouse Studios, a photo rental studio in NYC.

She and her husband, Eddie Adams, co-created The Eddie Adams Workshop in 1988. She now serves as the executive director. Adams is currently working on a new monograph on Eddie’s work with the University of Texas Press, where Eddie’s archives are housed. In 2008 she produced Eddie Adams: Vietnam. Adams was formerly the director of photography at Miramax Films and an award-winning graphic designer with Carbone Smolan Associates.

Basement Vodou: Haitian Spirituality in Brooklyn

An Irish Catholic upbringing contributed to photographer Shannon Taggarts lifelong interest in the rituals and art of religion. After photographing Spiritualistspeople who believe they can communicate with the deadin upstate New York, Taggart has since been documenting the Haitian religion of Vodou since moving to Brooklyn in 2005.

Taggarts project began when she met a Mambo, or female Vodoupriest, named Rose Marie Pierre, who runs a temple in the basement of a nondescript storefront in the working class neighborhood of Flatbush. It was here that Taggart made these images of priests and laymen undergoing possession by the Loapowerful spirits that act as intermediaries between humankind and Vodous distant god, Bondye. Most Loa are benign, some are malevolent, but every spirit has a distinct personality, role in the world and set of demands and services. In their different ways, practitioners believe, these spirits determine our fate and must be consulted and appeased.

Beckoning the Loa requires elaborate preparations unique to the particular spirit desired. Practitioners indicate the Loa they want to call upon by drawing its vever, or symbol, in cornmeal sprinkled on the floor. They place offerings on an altar and perform particular songs and dances. When the Loa possesses the worshiper Taggart says the scene becomes wild, very physical and intense. Though she works with black-and-white still images, Taggart is able to convey the noise and energy of these rituals.There is screaming and thrashingsometimes [congregants] run around the room as if confused. It can happen suddenly, so it’s often jarring. People immediately gather around the one possessed and assist them with what they need and catch them if they collapse. Practitioners say the experience induces short-term amnesia; Mambo Rose Marie is always surprised (sometimes shocked) to see my documentation of what has taken place while she was possessed, recalls Taggart.

Popular culture often depicts Vodouas dark and menacing, but fails to understand its more unusual elements. One example, animal sacrifice, exists to rejuvenate the Loa after exhausting ceremonies. Taggart says that the chickens, pigs, goats and cows are killed humanely and eaten immediately. In Haiti, where there was no safe way to store meat, the practice provided people with a regular source of safe nourishment, Taggart explained.

Another often misunderstood practice is the presence of weapons in Vodouceremonies. A man in slide #2 is shown possessed by a warrior spirit named Ogou. He holds a large machete symbolic of that Loa. But as Taggart explains, weapons like these are not used to harm others. Instead, they are relics of Haitian slavery that Vodoupractitioners have appropriated as symbols of their faithmuch as the cross is a relic of Christian persecution that Christians have turned into a symbol of their faith. These exercises, born of practical and psychological necessity, are far from the spooky behavior that appears so often in film and folklore.

This December, several of these Brooklyn practitioners will undergo a two-week long initiation rite in Haiti. Accompanying them will be Mambo Rose Marie and Taggart, who will photograph the ceremonies. Blog Commenting . I don’t know what I will find there, but I am assuming it will be a special experience, she says.

Shannon Taggart is a Brooklyn-based photographer. See more of her work here.

The Boy from Troy

Donny began raking in the cash almost immediately after the short yellow school bus dropped him off in front of his house in Troy N.Y.

He spotted his mother Kayla, 22, who had been waiting for him on their front porch and hurled his Spiderman backpack in the direction of her feet. As he walked up the steps, Donny made himself available to a random, yet steady, trickle of well wishers, the sort who preferred to peel off a few green backs instead of fumbling with gift paper and bows. Donny, whose name has been changed at the request of the photographer, turned eight that day and in his neighborhood, occasions such as birthdays, funerals and releases from prison, drew big crowds in which everyone was considered family and obliged to make an appearance.

That birthday, which took place this April, was particularly important for Donny. His previous birthday had fallen in the middle of a fourteen-day crisis intervention that the seven year old had spent in a pediatric psychiatric facility. Since kindergarten, Donny has struggled with several emotional and behavioral disorders including attention deficit disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and separation anxiety. His diagnoses have resulted in multiple suspensions that have caused him to miss valuable school time.

This year, family members were making up for lost time. Jose, an old sweetheart of Kayla’s who was recently released from prison, passed by the stoop with a twenty; Donny’s uncle Will, who was scheduled to begin a 60-day stint in county jail, left a fist full of ones; Kayla’s brother Robby, out on probation, put $10 towards a World Wrestling Federation action figure that Donny wanted. And Sabrina, an extended family member, dropped by to give Donny a huge hug and reveal her birthday plan to take him to a Yankees game. A cousin to Donny’s biological father, Sabrina has filled in for him, on and off, since Donny’s birth and later became Kayla’s first serious girlfriend.

I’ve known Donny since he was born, after a friend introduced to me Sabrina, who was the subject of a New York Times Magazine assignment that sent me close to my hometown in upstate New York. It was the first time that I returned as a professional since leaving there more than 30 years before. Kayla lived in Troy, just 10 minutes from where I grew up, and her story resonated with me. Reserved and street smart, Kayla was the girl I wished I was when I was 14. There was an uneasy identification between the two of us that grew into friendship over the next eight years while I continued to document Kayla, Sabrina and their friends who lived as a family on the same block. A family, I discovered, that was formed largely in response to increasingly punitive legal, moral and economic shifts within their working class community. I watched, as school either became the interface between the justice system and a disengaged teenager or a lifeline thrown from an involved teacher. At year six, I began to agonize about the utility of this monster story and when Donny began school, it became evident that he was the story. Donny is the proverbial child that this neighborhood raised.

Donny is one of a number of very young children that are part of an alarming increase in students being labeled with disabilities at much younger ages. He was suspended from school four times when he was in kindergarten, almost twice that in first grade and more than twenty days in second grade. In New York City, policy critics and social justice advocates note that minority children and children with disabilities are more likely to be suspended, and at much younger ages. Yet, organizations such as the Children’s Defense Fund note that there is no evidence to show that suspension corrects behavior, especially among children as young as Donny—and that this supports a “cradle to prison” pipeline. The Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights 2009-2010 survey released In March 2012, shows that once students are suspended from school, they are more likely to be suspended again—and ultimately may serve time in prison.

In February, Donny was taken out of the Rennselaer county school district regular classroom for special education and placed in day treatment that serves as a specialized school with one-on-one instruction in small classrooms, a longer school year and where suspension is not an option. That consistency, along with the support of a team of social workers, has been a tremendous factor in his improvement at home and school. Kayla says he wakes her while it is still dark and wants to get ready for school. In the past, school social workers had targeted one of Donny’s “triggers” as school avoidance, and it became a cycle, with him acting out because he knew he would be sent home and then not feeling a part of the class when he returned and then acting out so he could leave again. Donny has now been in school since February without being suspended. This is the longest time he has gone with out a suspension since kindergarten.

Brenda Ann Kenneally is a photographer based in New York. See more of her work hereTo read more about the project, visit Upstategirls.org.

Kyle Ford, Billboard with Trees

Kyle Ford, Billboard with Trees

Kyle Ford

Billboard with Trees,
Savannah, Georgia, 2008
From the Second Nature series
Website – KyleFordPhotography.com

Kyle Ford was born in the mountains of the Adirondack Park in upstate New York. He received his Bachelor of Sciences from Skidmore College in 2005 and his Master of Fine Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2009. Kyle’s work has been featured in publications such as Newsweek Japan, Magenta’s Flash Forward and The Wall Street Journal. He is currently living in upstate New York and teaching classes at Skidmore College.

Shane Lavalette, Will with Banjo

Shane Lavalette, Will with Banjo

Shane Lavalette

Will with Banjo,
, 2011
From the Picturing the South series
Website – ShaneLavalette.com

Shane Lavalette is a photographer, the founding Publisher and Editor of Lay Flat as well as the Associate Director of Light Work. Lavalette grew up in Vermont and is currently based in Upstate New York. He holds a BFA from Tufts University in partnership with The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Lavalette’s photographs have been shown widely, including national and international exhibitions. A new body of work by Lavalette will be on view at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA from June 9 – September 2, 2012. Lavalette has launched a Kickstarter campaign to support the funding of a photobook of this new work.

This Must Be the Place: COFFER

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Video by Lost & Found Films

"We look at working in documentaries almost like a passport that allows us to see how different people live, across cultural, class, socioeconomic and racial lines. And what better way to sum up that idea than explore people's spaces: their home, their place of work, their hangout spot — to really examine, both visually and emotionally, the places that people LIVE. So we decided to make that the focus of our series, This Must Be The Place." — Ben Wu

Filmmakers Ben Wu and David Usui's This Must Be the Place is a series of short films that explores the idea of home; what makes them, how they represent us, and why we need them. Their most recent installment, Coffer is a meditative portrayal of tintype photographer John Coffer's rural home and workspace in upstate New York. Living off the grid, in a cabin he built by hand more than two decades years ago, the artists explains the philosophy behind his way of life, and his thoughts on the nature of home, while the camera drifts through his space, capturing glimpses of him at work and at rest.

Thanksgiving Tradition: Gillian Laub’s Turkey Day

For as long as she can remember, Thanksgiving has been photographer Gillian Laub’s favorite holiday. “So many of my memories from childhood are around Thanksgiving because I have a huge family, and that was when everyone from all sides came together.” Ten years ago, Laub began photographing her family’s annual gatherings—which take place at Laub’s childhood home or her sister’s house in upstate New York—an experience she says has allowed her to watch her family grow up and record the process for posterity. “I really started photographing Thanksgiving because there’s something incredible about the time of the year,” Laub says. “The changing and transitioning of the seasons and the aging of my family members—there was something symbolic that I wanted to mark and document.” Beyond the photos, Laub also created a poignant video of her family titled “Four Generations”, which premiered at LOOK 3 photo festival this June.

There’s one gap in the decade-long series. In the summer of 2007, Laub’s grandfather Irving passed away, and that November, she found herself unable to take any pictures. “Everyone felt a marked change that Thanksgiving,” she says. “It was my grandfather’s favorite holiday, and he was the patriarch of the family. I just remember it was almost like a religious ceremony—his carving of the turkey—and the whole family just felt an incredible sense of loss that year.” Since then, her grandmother’s health has also deteriorated, which Laub says has made looking through the photographs painful at times. “The photographs mark the aging process, which can be beautiful and difficult at the same time,” she says. “But that’s why I have this annual tradition of documenting the holiday. It allows me to really reflect on the year—what has changed, what has been lost, what has been learned, and what we have to be thankful for.”

Gillian Laub is a photographer based in New York and a frequent contributor to TIME. She is currently working on a project about the American South. See more of her work here