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Democrat Photo by Jeanne Sager

LINDSAY SILVERMAN, A member of the Nikon staff which was one of the Eddie Adams Workshop’s chief sponsors, shoots a scene during the pottery festival in Jeffersonville on Saturday.

Top Photographers
Descend on Jeff Again

By Jeanne Sager
JEFFERSONVILLE — October 12, 2004 – Eddie Adams provided the flash.
Friday, 17 years after the world-famous photographer invited 100 of the world’s best photography students into his Jeffersonville home, 100 new students were back on the Jeff-North Branch Road.
They were there to learn from the masters of the trade, folks from The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, even Nikon.
They were there even though Adams passed away just last month – because this is what Eddie would have wanted.
“It will keep being done every year – it’s Eddie’s in its name only,” explained Workshop Producer Jessica Stuart.
Officially “Barnstorm: the Eddie Adams Workshop,” the annual project sends students out to photograph the countryside of Sullivan County each Columbus Day weekend.
Teams of 10 are led by a producer and an editor who provide them with a theme and help them find inspiration in what many would deem the average and ordinary lives of the county’s residents – looking for pictures that will illustrate anything from spirituality to an intimate portrait of Jeffersonville.
They go into wedding parties, cover births, sit in people’s homes and take photos while they listen to people’s stories.
They reconverge in a renovated barn on a hill overlooking Jeffersonville to edit their shots and accept awards for their work.
The best of the best are traditionally put on display for an impromptu exhibit at the Jeffersonville campus of the Sullivan West school district to allow the community the same kind of open access to the workshop that they have provided to the photographers.
For Alyssa Adams, Eddie’s widow, the community has been key in making this workshop something that could live on in her husband’s dreams.
“We have had a lot of support here,” she explained.
The workshop, which went all digital for the first time this year, is putting at least 1,000 of its best shots on the web – sort of as a payback to the community.
People who are featured will be able to go on-line to download a picture of themselves, or call to request a print.
The move to digital, a major shift in the way the workshop has always been run, has helped enable the workshop to “follow through” to give back to the community, Alyssa Adams explained.
This is the third year digital cameras have been used at the workshop – amazing, especially for photography “purists” so entranced by the images they could produce on a film-based camera that they were hesitant to make the switch.
But, Adams said, it’s part of the job.
“People have to keep reinventing themselves,” she explained. “The real challenge for us is to keep evolving.”
She remembers when computers became a part of photography – when PhotoShop and digital enhancement were in early stages. They carried huge towers and massive monitors up to the Jeffersonville site in trucks.
Today, each photographer can sit in on a lecture and type away at their laptop, a slim plastic machine that could fit right in a backpack with books and other equipment.
“In a period of three workshops, we’ve gone from one team to half to 100 percent digital,” said Producer Mark Kettenhofen.
“It’s amazing.”
What’s also amazing is the effect the workshop has had on the photography world.
Kettenhofen was never a student in Jeffersonville – although many of the volunteer staff members were.
He was a photographer in the Navy who applied but often found himself being deployed just when the call would have come to attend Barnstorm.
Now an employee of Nikon, one of the workshop’s biggest sponsors, he can spend every fall devoting a weekend to his true love.
“It’s hard not to come here and feel the energy,” he said. “You get done here, and you want to go out and grab a camera.”
Scott Allen was a student in the second year of the workshop. Now he’s student liaison – ensuring the 100 photographers working in the “field” of Sullivan County clean up after themselves and have smooth transactions with the community.
Also a Navy photographer, Allen will never forget what he learned at Barnstorm.
“Everyone was here to help me and the other 99 students,” he recalled. “That’s why I’m back here every year – I believe in what Eddie has done here.”
Allen remembers shooting a birth on his weekend as a student in the Catskills. It was an amazing experience – one he wants to give to each and every student who comes to Barnstorm looking to reinvent himself or herself as a photographer.
“Each of us have our own personal reasons why they’re here,” said Kettenhofen. “But each should have 100 reasons to be here, and they arrive on Friday afternoon.”
That’s the way it was for Eddie
“For him, it was always about the students,” Kettenhofen explained.
And even with Eddie gone, the Adams family has given something special to the photography world.
“There’s a great appreciation for Eddie and Alyssa and August Adams,” said Allen. “They’ve been generous enough to let us into their second home year after year.”
That has meant opening up their barns to students and staff, the hammock behind their home for students to take a breather, even their dog, Bruiser, who has become a workshop mascot.
And even though Alyssa has said this is not a memorial to her husband – it’s taken on a life of its own – the photographers who gathered in Jeffersonville this weekend were conscious of the influence of a man who has been recognized the world over for his effect on photojournalism.
“Eddie’s spirit will always be with us here,” Allen said.
For more on the Eddie Adams Workshop or to look for pictures, visit

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