I flew a red-eye out from San Francisco Thursday night to New York at 11pm arriving at 7am Friday. I went B&H Video in Midtown Manhattan where I met the workshop reps. We all got on a bus and drove 2.5 hours north to Jeffersonville, NY. After exiting the bus at the farm, I heard loud music and saw a large crowd of people lining the side of a dirt drive way. As we all walked up the people lining the driveway (workshop volunteers) cheered and welcomed us. It was a bizarre experience yet pretty cool.
We organized ourselves into our respective teams, I am team camouflage, andmet our team leader. My team leader is a combat photographer who has covered many different conflicts. His name is Stanley Greene. Afterwards everyone was fed dinner.
Later in the evening everyone met in the barn for the opening night ceremonies. Teams and their assignment topics were announced. We watched a documentary film about Eddie Adams, “An Unlikely Weapon,” and listened to different speakers, Brian storm of mediastorm.org, Hal Buell, the one time worldwide photo director of AP News, and Bill Pekala of Nikon, the guy who taught the astronauts how to take photos in space.
The day didn’t end at 10pm. We got back on the buses and headed back to the hotels where each team met to discuss individual assignments, and details for the next 3 days. I was dying to find out what my assignment was.
Team camouflage’s topic is “gun culture.” My brain kept thinking of what that could possibly mean in a small country town in NY. And, what would my assignment be. We given a set of rules. Even though we are shooting digital we are not allowed to look at the screen, even for the histogram. We can not delete any files. We have to treat it as film. We are allowed the digital equivalent of 3 rolls of 36 exposure film saturday, and 2 rolls of 36 exposure film Sunday. This may sound pretty harsh, and at first my jaw dropped when I heard it. But my team leader explained that as a war photographer the moment you look down to check the screen you have a bullet in the head.
As we sat in our team leader’s hotel room the assignments were handed out. One person was assigned to a paint ball field, another was assigned to hunting club. Someone else was assigned to hunting enthusiast. As each assignment was handed out I patiently waited to hear my name called, and each time I heard someone elses name. There were two assignments left. A girl was called and given the assignment, my editor then looked at me and said, “and last but not least, and we chose this specifically for you, GUN CULTURE ON MAIN STREET, USA.” Stanley said that he and our editor both reviewed everyone’s work, portfolios, and assigned these accordingly. I am down for a challenge. This is what I have been practicing for. I am going to make it happen. I’m signing off at 230am, I have to be up at 630am.