My Eddie Adams Workshop Experience (part 1) – Jason Prupas

After two attempts, I was finally accepted into the Eddie Adams Workshop XXVI (EAW) in July 2013. While I have experienced some incredible things in my life so far, from the places I have travelled and the people I have met, this workshop was one the most unique and incredible experiences of my life.

The day I found out, I got an email notification from Mirjam Evers the EAW executive producer. The subject line was “Congratulations”. Needless to say I was floored.

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Arriving students walk up towards the barn on the first of day of the Eddie Adams Workshop. (Photo – Adnan Saciragic)

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Missouri Photo Workshop – Marta Iwanek (part 2)

Embracing the Bubble

Once a story is approved, participants have until Friday at noon to complete the photography. There is also another catch – we are given a 400-frame limit. No pictures can be deleted, even if you accidentally photograph the ground with your hip. This proved a very valuable lesson to a photographer like myself who has learned to take photos on a digital camera where every frame is free. It made me change my mindset, from everything being free to making every moment count. I could see the results almost right away.

It forced me to slow down, think about the telling moments for this story and put myself in the best position to anticipate them. It also made me pay attention and really observe what was happening. Most of all, I think it made me put down my camera and just talk to the people I was photographing.

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Margo Nichols greets daughter JilliAnn Mathews, 11, and stepson Luca Nichols, 11, as they come home from school on Tuesday September 24, 2013, in Trenton, Missouri. (Photo – Marta Iwanek)

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Missouri Photo Workshop – Marta Iwanek (part 1)

Finding the Story

The Missouri Photo Workshop was an incredibly intense, emotional experience that showed me so many lessons in storytelling that I’m excited to keep pushing towards.

Each year, about 40 photographers are accepted and arrive in a small town in Missouri, US. This year’s town was Trenton, population about 6,000.

On our first day, we were all sent with a maximum of 40-50 frames to explore the town, find a few ideas and pitch them the next day.

As I was wandering, I found a football game and noticed there was one girl on the team. After the game, I talked to the family and found out JilliAnn had joined the team because her stepbrother Luca, who was the same age but smaller, asked her to join to protect him. It started off as a story exploring the dynamics of their relationship as step-siblings.

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Eleven-year-old stepsiblings Luca Nichols (L) and JilliAnn Mathews wait for their mom to start the play as they practice tackling in their front yard on Tuesday, September 24, 2013, in Trenton, Missouri. Luca asked JilliAnn to join the all-male 5th-grade Trenton Little League Football Team with him to protect him. “If it’s a big kid coming at me, it’s usually her or Jake hitting him,” he says. JilliAnn disagrees. “Sometimes,” she says. (Photo – Marta Iwanek)

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Reflections on the Missouri Photo Workshop – Whitney Light (part 2)

Shoot, edit, show

Life Within Reach

At home, Delores helps her two-year-old son Ryker get dressed. She regrets missing out on most of his life so far because he and his brothers, Trevor, 10, and Kyle, 12, were in foster care while she overcame drug abuse. (Photo – Whitney Light)

In addition to the story search, another feature of the Missouri Photo Workshop (MPW) is a 400-frame count limit for the entire week. A practical necessity in the days of film, it’s been held onto as a useful teaching device. We were advised to think about every frame and why we would need it in the edit.

This rule didn’t ruffle me as much as it did some, though I did “use up” every last shot. I was more nervous about how the shooting would go. It wouldn’t be the first time that a subject backed out of a project. So, I took the frame limit as a signal to proceed with caution.
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Reflections on the Missouri Photo Workshop – Whitney Light (part 1)

Research, pitch, repeat

Life Within Reach

Delores Hilt with her daughter Makenly on the front porch of their house, September 23, 2013. (Photo – Whitney Light)

Two things drew me to the 65th Missouri Photo Workshop (MPW): the opportunity to meet many photographers and editors at once, and the promise of developing new insights into the do’s and don’ts of documentary storytelling.

Briefly, the annual week-long workshop goes like this: arrive in small-town America, meet MPW faculty, go in search of stories, pitch the best ideas to your “editors,” shoot, edit, and then show your work online and to all the townspeople in a public exhibition.

Like most people probably would, I thought that the story search would likely turn out to be the most challenging part. And it was. At some workshops, you’re handed a story lead upon arrival. But forcing us to practice the hard work of pre-reporting and story development was arguably the most valuable part of the week. As co-director David Rees laid it out on Monday night, in a world brimming with excellent shooters, the ability to find and pitch compelling stories is what editors and, ultimately, viewers want.
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