This week Maine Media workshoppers immerse themselves in everything from portrait photography to landscapes and from fine art printing to screenwriting. Documentary photographer Sam Abell is on campus sharing 40 years of expertise, including three decades at National Geographic. Abell’s fully booked Moving Forward in Photography workshop is designed to help students answer two essential questions: "What is a well-lived photographic life, and how do I achieve it?" Working side by side with participants, Abell will help them edit existing portfolios, generate new work, and move careers forward to the next level. In The Intimate Portrait, fine art photographer Joyce Tenneson will guide and inspire image makers to create elegant, insightful, and memorable portraits, as well as master ways to use available light. In The Color of Light, award-winning photographer Arthur Meyerson will demonstrate how to strengthen students’ sensitivity to the effects of light, color, composition, texture, and design through daily shooting assignments, critiques, and discussions. Workshops in alternative processes, film production, and camera basics are also in the mix. Thanks to Arri for bringing the Alexa and Almira on campus for our Camera Assistant Workshop this week. Click her for a full schedule.
“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.
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.”
One of the most exciting things happening here on campus this winter is the construction of a new Book Arts & Alternative Process Studio, which will be complete in just a few weeks.
Part of a from-the-studs-up renovation of the lower level of the Ernst Haas building, the studio is dedicated to enhancing our Book Arts & Design program, introduced in 2007 by former Maine Media President Charles Altschul. The studio will house a raft of exceptional book arts equipment including Vandercook proofing presses, multiple book presses, a photopolymer platemaker, composing stone and base, stamping press, bookbinding sewing frame, and much more. The Alternative Process Lab being renovated in the adjacent space embraces the resurging interest in 19th century historic photographic techniques including tintype, collodion, gum bichromate, and calotype. It's a veritable cornucopia for "maker" enthusiasts and photographers alike!
The new studio will allow our students to exponentially expand their opportunities here, by exploring, blending, and combining these age-old techniques in tandem with the most cutting-edge image technology available. Take a picture on an iPhone, use a special printer to create a digital negative of that image, print the image using a historic process, and overlay letterpress onto the final image or bind multiple prints into a hand-bound book. It's the marriage of old and new.
For those of you who have already had a chance to look over our latest catalog, you'll see loads of new book arts, design, and alternative process courses taught by world-class instructors. We know you are going to love experimenting and creating in this gorgeous new space!
JOIN US FOR THE GRAND OPENING ON JUNE 12
Volunteering is an excellent way to become involved in our local creative community and to see some of Maine’s most wonderful artwork! Our galleries depend on the help of volunteers to maintain open hours, interact with gallery visitors, and assist in the general upkeep of the space. If you are interested in volunteering at either the Maine Media Gallery in Rockport, ME, or the PhoPa Gallery in Portland, ME, please contact the gallery manager, Sarah Whitling, at email@example.com.