Celebrating 50 Years of Visual Storytelling
Where artistic passion meets educational excellence.
Honoring a Half-Century of Filmmaking, Photography, Book Arts, Design, Writing, and College Programs
As we proudly commemorate our 50th anniversary, we reflect upon a rich legacy of nurturing creativity and empowering individuals to explore the realms of filmmaking, photography, book arts, design and writing.
Our commitment to fostering artistic growth and providing exceptional educational experiences has made us a leading institution in the visual and literary arts.
Watch: One week of summer on-campus at Maine Media.
For five decades, Maine Media has been a haven for aspiring artists and professionals seeking to refine their craft and unleash their creative potential.
The Maine Photographic Workshops are founded
The Maine Photographic Workshops (now Maine Media) was founded in 1973 by David Lyman. The school was created to provide a community and learning opportunities for photographers and those interested in photography to come together, learn from each other, share experiences, and engage in conversations to expand their knowledge and perspectives in the ever evolving medium of photography.
The programs began as a summer-long series of workshops in a broad range of genres including photographic craft, photojournalism, portraiture, landscape, and visual design. The small classes were taught by professional photographers, concerned with teaching the practical as well as creative aspects of the medium. The informal atmosphere encouraged students to learn through participation, with direct mentoring from the faculty.
Faculty the first summer included National Geographic photographer Dick Durrance II, renown landscape photographer Paul Caponigro, LIFE magazine photographer John Loengard, Charles Harbutt, and Arnold Gassan from Ohio University, who along with his graduate students would set the standard for the high level of B&W darkroom craft that the Workshops became known for.
Learn more about our Photography workshops.
First Cinematography classes offered
In 1975, the Maine Photographic Workshops welcomed a luminary in the world of cinematography, Conrad Hall, to teach the first-ever cinematography class at the institution. Hall’s presence brought an unparalleled wealth of knowledge and experience to aspiring filmmakers. As a renowned cinematographer who had worked on notable films like “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “American Beauty”, Hall’s expertise and artistic vision captivated the students. Through his teaching he shared insights on lighting, composition, and the art of visual storytelling, instilling in his students a deep appreciation for the craft of cinematography. Hall’s class at the Maine Photographic Workshops became a seminal event that led to the the development of the International Film & Television Workshops as part of the Workshops.
Garret Brown teaches the first Steadicam Workshop
The first Steadicam workshop taught by Garrett Brown at the Maine Photographic Workshops in 1980 holds immense significance in the world of cinematography. This pioneering workshop introduced filmmakers to a revolutionary camera stabilization system that would forever change the way movies are shot. Garrett Brown, the inventor of the Steadicam, shared his expertise and knowledge with aspiring filmmakers, opening up a new realm of creative possibilities. This workshop marked a turning point in the industry, as it provided filmmakers with a tool that allowed for smooth, fluid camera movements previously unattainable. It empowered filmmakers to capture breathtaking shots with unparalleled stability, transforming the way stories were visually told.
The impact of this workshop continues to reverberate in the film industry, inspiring countless cinematographers to push the boundaries of their craft and deliver visually stunning masterpieces. To this day Maine Media is one of the few places a student can participate in an official Steadicam training course.
The Workshops host the First International Photography Congress
In 1986, The Maine Photographic Workshops hosted the First International Photography Congress, a landmark event that brought together photographers from around the globe. This gathering marked a significant moment in the world of photography, providing a platform for professionals and enthusiasts to exchange ideas, showcase their work, and explore the evolving landscape of the medium. The Congress served as a melting pot of creativity, fostering a vibrant atmosphere of collaboration and learning. It featured a diverse range of workshops, exhibitions, and lectures, allowing participants to engage with different photographic techniques, styles, and philosophies. The event not only celebrated the art of photography but also facilitated the development of new friendships and connections, promoting a sense of community among photographers worldwide.
Photoshop and the first digital camera are premiered at The Workshops during the annual International Photography Congress
The year 1990 witnessed a groundbreaking moment at The Maine Photographic Workshops during the annual International Photography Congress, as two game-changing photographic technologies made their premieres: Adobe Photoshop and the first digital camera. This convergence of innovation revolutionized the world of photography and set the stage for the digital era. Photoshop, the revolutionary image editing software developed by Adobe, provided photographers with unprecedented control over their images, enabling them to enhance, manipulate, and creatively transform photographs like never before. Simultaneously, the introduction of the first digital camera marked a significant shift from traditional film photography to the realm of digital imaging. This breakthrough technology offered photographers immediate access to their images, eliminating the need for film development and allowing for greater experimentation and efficiency in the photographic process. The premiere of Photoshop and the first digital camera at The Maine Photographic Workshops underscored the institution’s commitment to staying at the forefront of photographic advancements.
Circa 1993 Breaking ground for the construction of the Film Sound Stage
Throughout the early 1990’s the Homestead campus continued to expand with additional facilities to accommodate the growing programs. In 1995 Rockport College, the degree-granting program at The Maine Photographic Workshops, was authorized by the State of Maine to grant the Associate of Arts degree and a low-residency Master of Fine Arts degree. The first students were admitted to the degree programs in the fall of 1996. Students in these programs in addition to the workshop students benefited from the specialized facilities added to the campus including the Film Sound Stage in 1993; Ernst Haas Library and Photographic Center in 1994; Film Production Center in 1996; and the New Imaging Center in 1997.
The Maine Photographic Workshops changes ownership to become non-profit organization Maine Media Workshops
In 2007, with the help of individual, foundation, and corporate support, the school changed ownership and incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) institution under the name of Maine Media Workshops. The founding board members included Peter Ralston, Joan Welsh, Joyce Tenneson, Charles Altschul, Barbara Goodbody, and John Claussen. John Claussen became the first Board Chair, as Charles Altschul transitioned from the Board to become the first president of Maine Media Workshops. Long-time alum and friend of the school Judith O’Dell soon joined the board.
Maine Media College is authorized by the State of Maine to grant the Master of Fine Arts degree
In 2009, the Maine State Legislature granted the school temporary approval to continue conferring the MFA degree, and authorized a name change from Rockport College to Maine Media College. On February 8, 2010, following a visiting team review by the Maine State Board of Education and a unanimous vote of the State Legislature, Governor John Baldacci signed a bill granting the school permanent authority to confer a Master of Fine Arts degree. Since its original authorization in 1995, the school has conferred 72 MFA degrees. These graduates are now working as professional educators, photographers, and filmmakers, many of whom are recognized worldwide and have produced award-winning work.
Grand Opening of the Book Arts Studio and Fiber Optic connectivity advance Maine Media’s educational offerings
In June 2014 Maine Media opened the new Book Arts and Historic Process studios to accommodate the expansion of the book arts and alternative process programs, which specialize in the honoring of historic craft melded with the newest visual technology.
The new studio was a complete renovation of the lower level of Maine Media’s Ernst Haas building and designed to be a permanent space dedicated to enhancing the Book Arts and Design program, which was introduced in 2007 by former Maine Media President Charles Altschul. The studio houses 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. It is a veritable book arts cornucopia for “maker” enthusiasts and photographers alike. The Alternative Process laboratory embraces a resurging interest in 19th-century historic photographic techniques including tintype, collodion, gum bichromate, and calotype among many others.
The Studio exponentially expanded opportunities for Maine Media students to explore, blend, and combine these age-old techniques in tandem with the most cutting-edge image technology available, opening seemingly endless creative avenues.
At the same time, Maine Media hosted a press conference to announce the private/public partnership with The Town of Rockport, Maine Media Workshops + College, Network Maine (part of the UMaine System), and internet service provider GWI to bring ultra-fast fiber optic internet infrastructure to the Rockport village area. The “High Tech Harbor” project, delivers internet up to 100 times faster than a regular broadband connection to homes and businesses in the town.
The high-speed network allows our students unlimited access to content through their mobile devices and enables Maine Media to deliver educational content online from our campus in Rockport all around the world.
Maine Media launches the Writers Harbor
In 2018 Maine Media announced the addition of the new program The Writers Harbor™ to bring accomplished authors to the Rockport campus and select locations around the world to teach workshops in poetry, fiction, memoir, nonfiction, podcasting, screenwriting, live storytelling, food writing, and magazine writing. Since the launch of the program writers have joined the creative community of storytellers working in various forms of media arts.
Maine Media is awarded accreditation with the New England Commission of Higher Education
In a press release, Maine Media President Michael Mansfield noted the accomplishment. “Maine Media has been on a remarkable journey over the last 50 years. What an exceptional achievement!” he stated. “This is an important acknowledgment of the creative spirit here on campus, and the human energy that makes this place so electric. We were founded on the very idea that artists share, teach and learn from one another. This recognition from the New England Commission of Higher Education gives compelling testimony to that idea.”
Accreditation and membership with the Commission carries many benefits, including the expansion of student access to federal financial assistance programs for both Maine Media’s low-residency MFA program as well as its two Professional Certificate programs in photography and filmmaking. The Commission also conferred approval for Maine Media’s distance education programs, further enabling online certificate programs, virtual courses and workshops.
Academic credit in various programs of study, such as advanced level and master workshops, could now be eligible for transfer to other accredited colleges and universities through new institutional partnerships and credit sharing agreements.