The Digital Journalist
Eddie Adams' Farm: One of Photojournalism's Sacred Places
October 2004

by Jim McNay

The Farm, site of the renowned Eddie Adams Workshop, is and will continue to be one of photojournalism's "sacred places."

The sacred places of photojournalism are those where photographers go and have experiences that lead to significant leaps in their skill, understanding, or insight about photojournalism. Over the course of a few days, one might say one's photojournalism molecules are significantly rearranged. Photographers emerge with a new awareness of what the profession takes and what it is all about.

The Farm is one of those places.

This new insight might cause some to drift away from the profession. But many photographers return to their jobs or their schools with a new passion and commitment for the possibilities of telling stories about the people and conditions on the planet.

Eddie Adams lived a rich and varied life in photojournalism. If his workshop was his only contribution to photography, it would have been enough. The education he and his wife, Alyssa, provided for a couple thousand photographers while he was here rippled out, affecting photojournalism in major ways in the U.S. and overseas.

How much impact has this four-day upstate New York experience been for photographers seeking to break into the business? Photographers largely unknown in the industry regularly report that having "attended the Eddie Adams Workshop" on their résumé has gotten them important interviews with major editors. This week, a photographer who has been freelancing for The New York

Times from Baghdad reported his upcoming opportunity with Time magazine was made possible by meeting key editors at The Workshop. One photographer who attended the workshop was later quoted as saying that the week she spent at The Farm had the greatest impact on her life.

Many photographers have had the Workshop's "turn-things-around-on-a-dime" experience. When trying to get an internship interview at a major New York City daily, one photographer could tell he was about to be blown off on the telephone. Fortunately, right before being hung up on, the young photographer managed to blurt out, "But I DID attend the Eddie Adams Workshop." With that, he got his interview. Later, based on his pictures and the successful interview, he got the internship.

Those are pretty good results for a workshop invented by a guy like Eddie who got his photography training in the Army and never had a chance to attend a high-intensity program as he was starting in the business. In fact, Eddie said his goal was to provide up-and-coming photographers with the kind of experience he wished he could have had when he was breaking in.

Many of us who have participated around the workshop believe its continuance would be a wonderful tribute to Eddie and the on-going education of photographers we might describe as emerging talent.

But if the workshop must end with Eddie's passing, then so be it. The Farm will continue in the hearts of those who have walked those grounds. And the Workshop will continue as the crown jewel of photojournalism's sacred places.

© Jim McNay

Jim McNay is the program director of the visual journalism program at Brooks Institute of Photography in Ventura, Calif. He has been a volunteer member of the Black Team at the Eddie Adams Workshop for more than a decade.