“Magic” was the key word echoed by students this week, whether they were focused on learning 19th Century photographic processes from our resident expert Brenton Hamilton or contemporary lighting techniques from one of the world’s most renowned magazine cover photographers, Greg Heisler

Yesterday, I walked into Greg’s Light Work workshop. The class was taking place in a cavernous barn-red boat storage facility turned high-tech studio for the summer—think Maine meets Manhattan. I sat riveted as Greg effortlessly choreographed different lighting configurations, and compared it to my own clunky bull-in-a-china shop approach. He swiftly arranged a set of Dynalites to the front, back and side of the model, even using his hands to shape highlights and shadows on the model’s face. After each image was shot, he then projected the results for students to compare. My favorite set-up was a reverse U-shaped trellis-like-structure with a top light and two side lights set against a black velveteen backdrop, all sitting behind the model, who was much closer to the camera. Front fill was used, and the effect was stunning, a soft rim light around the model’s hair and shoulders brought both drama and dimension to the portrait.

“I’m learning to trust my instincts and create light based on my individual perceptions,” said Sharona, a professional portrait photographer from Boston. ”It’s not formulaic. Greg teaches different recipes seasoned to taste.”

While Greg is known as one of the industry greats, what I found even more impressive was his genuine passion for teaching. He seemed so at ease sharing his years of knowledge and experience with photographers of all levels. I watched him give example after example of how to craft a look, while also teaching students how to employ what’s right in front of them.

“Greg’s amazing. I met him in Dubai at Gold Photo Plus. Everyone said if you want to learn lighting, this is the guy,” said TJ, a student from Chicago, who started shooting a couple of years ago, explaining that he came to Maine for Greg’s workshop to expand his lighting capabilities. “He has taught me how to motivate light and think of my environment. Now I think more cinematically and don’t just put the light on a stick and fire.”

Whether shooting low-tech with available natural light or in a studio using thousands of dollars worth of equipment, Greg encourages his workshoppers to really see and engage with what’s around them before snapping the shutter. “Motivate the practical,” is the mantra Greg often repeats. 

“Greg is a magician with lighting. He’s an intuitive lighter and an individual lighter, who totally caters to the subject rather than to his particular style,” explains Chris, Greg’s teaching assistant from Maine Media. “On top of it, he’s a really well spoken, sweet guy. I’m honored to watch his process. “

Earlier in the week, I decided to escape the humidity and duck into the cool comfort of our newly minted AltPro lab. My timing was perfect. I walked in the door just as Brenton began a Salt Printing demo. It was the first alternative processes class in the new space, and the anticipation among the group was palpable—lots of questions, note-taking and videoing Brenton’s every word and every step. Brenton stood beneath sheets of paper with hand-painted emulsions, drying on clothespins. He had a specified brush in hand and began applying a historic chemical concoction of silver nitrate. He directed the workshoppers to paint “luxurious” amounts of the emulsion onto the pieces of artistic paper pre-treated with a sodium chloride solution. He also warned them not to make puddles on the paper so that uneven emulsion thicknesses or brush strokes would distort the final image. 

I learned that each formula has its particular behavior and requires its own special brand of brushing. Ziatypes for instance are a saturate and coat technique. It’s something that needs to be learned by doing, a kinetic process where you simply have to experience and feel your way through, from the back-of-the-hand test to tell if your paper’s dry to how long to let your image develop in the sunlight. Yet that’s the fun of it all. Rolling up your sleeves, getting your hands wet, seeing the image slowly emerge when exposed to light. It’s the hands-on gratification of making something real, a tangible link to image creation that’s just different from moving Lightroom sliders back-and-forth on the computer for hours.

“I entered into photography during the digital age,” said Amy, one of the workshop participants, who owns a portrait studio in Ohio. “I think there’s a little something magical about the idea of using historic processes.”

Over the week, the students learned a total of nine different historic photo printing techniques including Cyanotype, Salted Paper, Kallitype, Albumen, Platinum Palladium, Ziatype and Gum Bichromate.

“It’s making photography magic and fun again,” said Skip, who travelled to Maine from Baltimore. “I’m excited to play.”

– Jennifer Cook, 2014 MMW+C PC Graduate in Visual Storytelling

Our campus is in full summer swing this week and bustling with directors, cinematographers, photographers, animators, and screenwriters. Click here for full schedule. Best known for his more than 70 cover portraits for TIME magazine, Greg Heisler is teaching this week, greeting photographers from around the country who have come to learn his innovative and distinctive use of light; award-winning photographer Cig Harvey leads students to delve into personal experience and emerge with visual images full of color and gesture; and Emmy-nominated Alan Myerson guides future movie directors to realize their creative vision through inspirational leadership of cast and crew. All this and more while our Rockport Gallery hangs its new show, A Maine Media Legacy, to raise scholarship funds; and our staff gets ready to host its annual bash this Saturday evening. Come join us and bid on a private photo session with one of 11 internationally claimed photographers who have photographed a stunning array of Hollywood A-listers, world leaders, cultural icons, and sports heroes. Click here for event info

This summer, photography celebrates its 175th birthday, and Maine Media honors the medium by highlighting one of its most iconic practices-portraiture. Illuminating identity, celebrity, description, and memory, portrait photography captures the idea of society and culture-and our place in it.

"Portraiture is one of the great themes of photography. It's central," said MMW instructor Sean Kernan, an award-winning fine art and commercial photographer, who has captured haunting portraits of the famous as well as the marginalized.  "What interests me are the ways that the portrait can be stretched and adapted to the photographer's response to the subject. My feeling is that photography and art of all kinds, still life, landscape, etc., are a way of explaining humans to humans, and few things take us deeper into the human than portraiture."

Sean is one of 11 portrait masters that we'll be celebrating in our upcoming Portrait Session Auction on July 12. Joining fellow luminaries Sam Abell, Marco Grob, Cig Harvey, Greg Heisler, Connie Imboden, Douglas Kirkland, Patrisha McLean, Greg Miller, Joyce Tenneson, and Michael Wilson, Sean will offer a private portrait session to bidders at our sparkling summer fundraiser. These artists have photographed cultural icons like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Andy Warhol, Barack Obama, and Bono. Just imagine what they will capture about you. With sittings that can take place in the crafted light of an artist's studio, at a colorful county fair, or even underwater, these sessions will reveal an incredible range of photographic style. The cost of admission to the auction is just $45, but your portrait session will be priceless. 

If you haven't yet enjoyed a portraiture workshop here at MMW, this is certainly the summer to do it. Many of the artists participating in our auction will be teaching here, and many others as well, including Newman Prize winner Steven Laxton, celebrated documentarian Debbie Fleming Caffery, and rising portraiture star Lydia Panas. As we hear from our students week after week, one workshop with masters like these sets their work light years ahead. Even the instructors themselves come here to learn from their contemporaries. "The campus at Maine Media has always been my favorite because in addition to teaching here, I learn here," says Sean Kernan. "There's a kind of anthill atmosphere that excites me and makes me want to try new things."

We're hoping many of the creative and emotional risks taken by both our students and faculty will be on display in submissions to our newly launched contest, Character. Running through September 7, the contest seeks portraits and stories that reveal the human condition. We've got an impressive line up of jurors and over $13,000 in prizes in this contest especially suited to the photographic portrait. More than any other art form, portraiture's complexity has the power to articulate both emotional and physical impressions, and to reveal depths of character far greater than the limits of their dimensions. Portraits have the power to capture, transform, and transfix not only the viewer, but also both subject and artist. We look forward to seeing how 175 years of photographic portraiture has inspired you, and where you will lead the genre in the months and years ahead. 



Last week, our enthusiastic guests helped us turn the cranks of the Vandercook as they saw the magic of type transfer ink to paper. They pulled needle and thread to artfully bind pages into a book. And they watched light-exposed images slowly emerge from coated photographic emulsions on fine paper.

The standing-room-only Grand Opening event celebrated the completion of our latest and exciting addition--a new Book Arts & Alternative Process Photography Studio-which officially opened on June 12, 2014. Festivities kicked off with an open studio, where our faculty, staff, and guest artists invited people to try their hand at a range of historic processes in book arts and photography, while others mixed and mingled on the gorgeous new deck that will soon serve as outdoor teaching space. 

"The open house turnout was fantastic! Everyone clearly loved the hands-on demonstrations," said book artist Anastasia S. Weigle, whose work is currently on exhibit at MMW+C's gallery in Rockport. "The highlight for me was letting a child help me sew. We chatted about creating books, and I could see the romantic appeal of bookbinding in her eyes!"

Following the demonstrations, a full house gathered to listen to Mark Dimunation, Chief of Rare Books and Special Collections at the Library of Congress. Mark captivated our guests with a keynote presentation on the history and future of book arts, discussing how this art form continues to evolve as a dynamic venue for many kinds of storytellers. 

"Mark's talk was a wonderful insight to a world of books that most people are not exposed to," said Liv Rockefeller, publisher of Two Ponds Press and member of MMW+C's Board of Directors. "We could see how books can become expressions for a host of ideas and emotions. The event sets a high bar to begin this bold new adventure for Maine Media Workshops."

The new studio has given us the opportunity to greatly expand our creative offerings. A student who takes a photo with an iPhone can use a specialized printer to create a digital negative, develop the image using hands-on historic techniques, overlay old letterpress onto the final image, and then bind multiple prints into a handcrafted book. "It's a perfect marriage of old and new," says MMW+C President Meg Weston. "Our school's mission is to educate and inspire visual artists and storytellers, and this new studio will house the tools and talent to bring our students' creative vision to life."

"The studio was built with students in mind," explained Brenton Hamilton, MMW+C faculty member and resident expert in historic and alternative photographic processes. "It is a bright, well-equipped working laboratory that will remove limitations for artists to be able to collaborate between disciplines and create new kinds of work in a stunning and well-designed space. These new studios will add so much to our thriving community."

The book arts side of the studio is complete with an amazing array of traditional equipment including two Vandercook proofing presses, multiple book presses, a photopolymer plate maker, composing stone and base, stamping press, bookbinding sewing frame and much more. The adjacent alternative process photography studio embraces the resurging interest in 19th Century photographic techniques including tintype, collodion, gum bichromate and calotype.  

"I know of no other place in the world where the creative potential of using these historic processes to combine words and images exist in such close proximity," exclaimed Charles Altschul, whose vision for a book arts program at MMW+C began seven years ago, when he served as the organization's president. "I am so looking forward to seeing what wonders begin to emerge from the Haas basement. I expect that many an unsuspecting workshopper will walk up the hill, poke his or her head in the door and emerge a budding book artist."

Charles generously donated the beautiful book arts equipment you'll find in the new studio, and he'll also be teaching several of our new courses this summer and fall. "In a world where so many of us communicate, learn, work and even play in front of a screen for much of the day, people crave experiences that allow us to use all of our senses in our creative endeavors," explained Charles. "Maine Media is perfectly positioned to capitalize on this phenomenon. As digital devices become evermore ubiquitous, Maine Media can offer a haven where we still include the digital-but not by sacrificing the rich history from which it flourished."

Be sure to check out our gorgeous redesigned website to see all the new book arts, design, and alternative process courses being offered this year. We know you are going to love experimenting and creating in this very special space! 


June is a transitional time at Maine Media. We revel in the return of green grass, warm breezes and exuberantly talented seasonal staff, but we also say goodbye to our Professional Certificate students whose creative evolution kept us enthralled and inspired for the last ten months. With projects that crossed genres of photography, video, and writing, Maine Media’s first cohort of Professional Certificate in Visual Storytelling graduates explored subjects ranging from Maine’s farm-to-table movement to the underwater flora and fauna of Penobscot Bay to the existential states of the human condition.

We have confidence that our sadness will soon be replaced by awe and pride. Our PC graduates have a history of quickly transforming 30 weeks of knowledge into professional endeavors that leave us beaming. Right now, we’ve got our eye on class of 2014 graduate Corinna Halloran. A former professional sailor and racer, Corinna sought out our PC program with a singular mission: to gain the photography, video, and writing skills necessary to win a coveted spot as on-board reporter for a vessel competing in the around-the-world Volvo Ocean Race. Less than two months after completing the program, she achieved her goal. Corinna was recently awarded the position of On Board Reporter working with the Team SCA vessel.

In a recent 14-day transatlantic voyage with the all-female crew, Corinna was able to make use of her creative and technical training as she photographed and shot video in challenging conditions, and kept the world tuned in through her blog posts. “Everything that I learned in these two semesters has prepared me 110%,” Corinna wrote to us before the journey. “There is no doubt in my mind that my success here hinges on the lessons learned at MMW+C. I feel so prepared having done the PC program.” 

While we follow Corinna’s adventures from the relative safety of dry land, we look forward to welcoming back class of 2013 graduate Sujata Khanna. Working in the development sector in Delhi, India, Sujata sought to transform a photography hobby into a tool for storytelling and advocacy. She began her Maine Media experience in our eight-week Photo Residency Program, but soon realized how much more she could gain by staying on to earn her Professional Certificate in Photography. “I started seeing instead of looking. I started making images instead of taking images,” says Sujata. “Cocooned in this magical environment and being able to concentrate solely on photography, without any distractions, came naturally in Maine. I lived photography. I breathed photography.”

After earning her Professional Certificate, Sujata returned to India where she was hired by CARE International to photograph their Girls Education Program across India. She is also working on an independent project photographing Indian widows. “I returned to India with confidence and faith to implement everything my mentors taught me. I am a social documentary photographer, a visual artist, and a visual storyteller, and I will create awareness in my country about issues that matter to me,” says Sujata. “There is a story waiting to be told at each corner in India, and I feel prepared to narrate these stories visually. Those nine months that promised to change my life truly did!”

It seems we never have to wait more than a month to see images from class of 2012 PC graduate Matt Cosby. If his work is not gracing the cover of Maine Magazine, he most likely has a gorgeous spread inside. Offered his first gig with the magazine while attending the opening reception for the PC graduation exhibition, Matt has gone on to have his images included in every edition for the last two years.  Before joining the PC program, Matt had a colorful career as a musician, crisscrossing the country in a van with the alt/rock band Jeremiah Freed. When what was once little more than a photography pastime showed promise of becoming more lucrative than music, Matt sought out Maine Media on the advice of PC graduate and MMW+C instructor Tim Estep. “I really didn’t know what to expect from the program,” says Matt. “I learned to take risks and to get out of my comfort zone, but also to always stay true to myself. As artists and creatives I feel like we sometimes get inside our heads a lot. In the program I learned how to filter and channel my emotions to make better images, and how to let go and not be so harsh all the time.”

Matt recently had one of his images published in Rolling Stone magazine, described as one of the “hottest live photos of 2014.” Assignments to National Geographic Traveler Magazine and Boston Magazine have since followed, and we know there will be plenty more on the horizon. For the next generation of Professional Certificate students, who may be uncertain about what the future holds, Matt had this advice: “Be a sponge! Soak up as much as you can from the faculty and your peers. You just never know when you’ll need that knowledge.” 

While the upheaval of the season sometimes feels like an emotional rollercoaster here at Maine Media, the endless pleasure of following our students’ inspired careers long after they have left us make all of it worthwhile.


Each summer, our campus overflows with students of all ages and from all over the world. Their wide-ranging skill sets, creative vision, and personal history add to a diverse backdrop that enhances everything we do here. This year, we’ll be able to reach out to an even wider range of visual storytellers, thanks to generous donations to our line-up of scholarship opportunities.  With more than $50,000 available for tuition assistance in 2014, we’re thrilled to bring the transformative Maine Media experience to more deserving students than ever before.

Two new scholarship grants are targeted to Maine teens. A three-year contribution to our Maine Youth Scholarship Fund came from the Bob Crewe Foundation, and a new fund aimed at attracting teens from culturally diverse and underserved populations in the greater Portland area was launched by MMW board member John Rosenblum and his wife, Carolyn. “One of the obligations of a non-profit institution like Maine Media is providing scholarship support so that our learning experiences are accessible to those who could not otherwise afford them,” says John. “We know that our Young Artist Program empowers and inspire participants, and we want this next generation of visual storytellers to include men and women from all of Maine’s communities.”

For many teens, an early show of financial support can make a huge impact on a career trajectory. “My brother, Bob Crewe, has had an extraordinary career culminating in the success of the musical Jersey Boys,” says Bob Crewe Foundation President Daniel Crewe. “In reflection, we recognize the many helping hands we both have had, and now wish to provide that helping hand to the talented young people who will attend Maine Media’s Young Artist Program.”

Professionals benefit from scholarship opportunities, too. Many of our students who receive tuition assistance are looking to give their careers a bump up to the next level. Last summer, writer and freelance videographer Lisa Wagner joined us with help from scholarship funds provided by the Mattina Proctor Foundation. Accustomed to working alone, Lisa worried about how she would fit into a group dynamic. “I thought I might be too old to be taken seriously, or that my skills might be too weak to accomplish much. All those fears proved to be unfounded,” says Lisa. “The people in my class had a great mix of levels of training, experience, and interests. I am now more confident about what I can do on my own and much more confident about my ability to work with others.” Lisa is currently putting her new skills to work on a multimedia cookbook project, as well as a collaborative documentary about the difficulties faced by those with state-committed family members living in group homes. “Before I went, I was thinking I might not make any more videos. About halfway through the week, I knew I would.”

Film and multimedia producer Aditi Desai was able to take our Storytelling with Canon HDSLR workshop with the help of scholarship funds provided by gear sponsor Vitech VideoCom. The film she made during that workshop, Handcrafted in Maine, won a TIVA-DC Peer Silver Award for best pro bono project. “I learned how to work with the Canon 5D to tell a good story in a beautiful way,” says Aditi. “Compelling images are at the heart of visual storytelling, and I use my workshop knowledge every time I go into the field.” Aditi is currently working on a series of short films about local and sustainable farming. The first film in the series recently premiered at the DC Environmental Film Festival.

In addition to our General Workshop Scholarship Fund which is available to deserving students in all of our Rockport-based workshops and long-term programs, we also have scholarships targeted to specific disciplines. In honor of photographer and MMW instructor Arnold Newman, the Arnold Newman Foundation provides generous scholarship funding for adult and teen photographers. The Karen Van Allsburg Memorial Scholarship provides funds for emerging women photographers. Professional Certificate and MFA students are eligible to apply for tuition assistance from funds established in honor of photographer and MMW instructor Paul Caponigro as well as former MMW President Charles Altschul. Special funds are also available for teens from Central New York State or Camden Hills Regional High School. While some scholarships have rolling deadlines, others begin in late April. Be sure to check out the complete list of scholarship opportunities on our website.

Want to join our growing list of scholarship donors? Make a contribution that will make a difference today.

After working as a producer in New York and Hollywood for 25 years with industry greats like Lorne Michaels, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, John Stewart, and William C. K., Tara Gardner developed an eye for talent. As our film program manager, she puts her high standards and A-list contacts to work for our students, lining up a schedule so full of luminaries that we may need to buy our own red carpet. "We have some truly amazing talent coming this year," says Gardner. "These people are at the top of their game, and also brilliant instructors. Great credits matter. Teaching ability matters. I'm looking for the ones who have both." 

This year's line-up of film courses may be our most impressive ever, with star-power lighting up classes that cover all aspects of filmmaking. One of our newest additions is a course designed and taught by writer, actor, director, and MMW Young Artist alum Caitlin FitzGerald, currently playing the role of Libby Masters in Showtime's Masters of Sex. Described recently as one of "Hollywood's new power players", FitzGerald came to us with the idea for a course that would help both actors and directors make most of their talents on sets that can often be chaotic and hurried. Unlocking Emotion: Tools for Directors and Actors not only draws from her experience working with heavy hitters like Meryl Streep, Ed Burns, and Ang Lee on major film and television productions, but also her experience as a writer and director of independent films. 

 FitzGerald joins a growing number of industry rock stars you'll find under the tent here this summer. Author Joyce Maynard, whose novel Labor Day was recently released as a film starring Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet, will be teaching Personal Storytelling, and now that all the Twilight films are in the can, veteran production executive Andi Isaacs will lead Understanding the Hollywood Studios & Distribution. Michael Palmieri, best known for his music video collaborations with Beck, The Strokes, and The New Pornographers will be lending his cinematic prowess to a course for documentary filmmakers, Cinematic Documentary, and Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations DP Zach Zamboni will be teaching the brand new Camera in Action workshop. Over in post production, we've got Academy Award-winning sound mixer Mark Ulano (whose massive credits could take up this entire column) on deck for a 15th season, teaching Production Sound Mixing.

No less than four ASC members are on this summer's schedule: Amy Vincent teaching Camera Operator, Daniel Pearl teaching Advanced Camera Operator, Steven Fierberg teaching The Camera and Visual Storytelling, and (with fingers crossed that his schedule allows) Russell Carpenter teaching Director of Photography Master Class. Almost as exciting is the line-up of gear that our students will get their hands on. "Wait until you see the cameras coming in this year!" says Gardner, sounding just a little bit like a kid on Christmas Eve. "Other schools use out-of-date, inexpensive cameras. But we'll have Arri's Alexa XT and Amira, Canon's C300 and C500, RED Epic, and the latest from Panavision--the best of the best." Try them out in The Camera Assistant Workshop, taught by Pirates of the Caribbean AC Brad Edmiston andMen in Black 3 AC Greg Lutzel.

This year's program is a veritable who's who and what's what of the film industry. It's enough to make your head spin. If you're struggling to choose just one of these inspiring instructors to work with, we understand. That's why we created two brand new eight-week film intensives. Geared towards college students, recent grads, and emerging professionals, the Producing Intensive and Cinematography Intensive link together our best film workshops to give you everything you need to refine your understanding of the industry, get your hands on an enormous amount of gear, and produce samples for a professional reel. Think of it as your personal filmmaker launching pad.  For those of you who have been working in the field for several years and are ready to take your skills to the next level, be sure to check out the 12-Week Cinematography Intensive or 30-week Independent Filmmaking Certificate Program. For both established and emerging film folk, there have never been more reasons to spend a summer in Maine.

Want to hear what our students have to say about our film intensives? Check out this short video.

When urological surgeon Jacek Mostwin first came to us as a workshop participant back in 1990, he knew that he would improve his photography. At the time, he used his camera to record details of operations and surgical procedures. What he didn’t know was that those early workshops would eventually lead him to see his patients and medical colleagues in an entirely new light, and transform the way he practices medicine.

Mostwin began taking photography workshops as a way to creatively express and understand the complex emotions that are an inevitable component of caring for patients. Over the course of a decade, he built a foundation of photographic skills that allowed him to capture moments of fragile vulnerability and tender compassion. Eventually he learned to use those seeing skills without a camera. “I learned to be a participant and an observer at the same time,” says Mostwin. “When I’m just working, without a camera, I’m aware of the dynamics and the choreography of the scene. It’s an unusual experience, and has made me very sensitive to subtle moments of expression and communication with others. It has also made me appreciate my colleagues in medicine and nursing all the more. When they work well, they’re doing something really beautiful for other people.”

Seeking to add even greater depth to his work, Mostwin joined our MFA program. Expecting to concentrate exclusively on images, he soon discovered that even deeper connections were waiting to be revealed. “I learned a great deal about the creative process—understanding it, nurturing it, listening to it. I learned to be patient, and I learned the differences between inspiration, craftsmanship, vision, and discipline,” says Mostwin. “Halfway through the program, I began writing about the photographs, and discovered a wonderful synergy between word and image. All of us have loved stories since we were children. It is a fundamental structure of how we think and transmit values that are really important to us.”

After receiving his MFA degree in 2004, Mostwin sought to share his insight with others. He currently teaches The Human Side of Medicine here at Maine Media, a workshop for photographers, filmmakers, and health care professionals interested in seeing medicine and illness from a more personal perspective. ­He will also be presenting at The Examined Life Conference at the University of Iowa this spring, a forum for educators that brings together writing, the humanities, and the art of medicine. For Mostwin, this interdisciplinary and emotional exploration has value to all professionals. “No matter what kind of work you do, tapping into this primary curiosity about the life of another is a great skill to be able to cultivate.”

MMW+C is offering a number of new courses that combine photography and writing. Check them out here. To learn more about our MFA program, click here.