Saturday, June 28, 2008

In for Eddie Adams

"Towson University wide receiver Dayron Arnold accelerates through the 40-yard dash during the 2008 NFL Pro Day at Johnny Unitas Stadium, Wednesday, March 12, 2008. Arnold was one of 10 Towson football players trying to impress NFL scouts with hopes be invited to one of the 32 team's training camps."

As some may have noticed, I've added a new link entitled EAW. I can hardly contain my excitement as I can now ecstatically announce that I've been accepted for the Eddie Adams Workshop aka Barnstorm XXI.

For those that have never heard of Eddie Adam's Workshop, it is: "a four-day gathering of the top professionals in photojournalism, along with 100 carefully selected students. The Workshop's purpose is to create a forum in which an exchange of ideas, techniques, and philosophies can be shared between both established members and newcomers of the profession of picture journalism. The Workshop is tuition-free, and the 100 students are chosen based on the merit of their portfolios."

In other words: it's a mind blowing, intense, sleep deprived, tuition free, life changing experience that a student (or professional for less than three years) will never forget.

Last year I got the axe and didn't make it in. I took it personally as I really believed I had a strong opportunity to be among the top 50 students applying. But I didn't.

After that, something changed. I started seeing differently and approaching my subjects in a way I didn't before. I worked very hard at developing my own personal style and made a strong effort to excel in assignments I thought I normally wouldn't do well in.

I rarely turned down freelance assignments, no matter where, when or what of. I started going through my takes two or three times after I had transmitted, too. And tasks like this made my work get a little stronger in my opinion.

As I looked back through my images, trying to decide how many and what to submit, I made sure they were photos that were my own vision; things that weren't always on an actual assignment, too.

After doing the simple tasks of filling my name out, what college I attended and writing my short personal statement I spent a solid week combing through my images trying to find those that said, "these are Patrick Smith photos."

Once I had a solid 20, I knew I could break it down into 10 or less images. So I did something I didn't do last year. Ask for help.

I got three varying opinions from three friends. While some of their differences were voiced, they all had certain images they collectively liked for one reason or another. It was the single best thing I ever did. Ask for help.

When all said and done, we came up with a small theme: personal to on assignment. Basically I started my portfolio off with features I had made while off the clock and transitioned them into those I made while working on tight deadlines.

We got it down to 13 images, but I knew deep down that some images didn't belong and canned them. Then it came time. Judgement day.

Submit. Now I wait.

I remember last year, I checked my e-mail literally every time I had the chance in June. If I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I checked. Waiting. Wishing. Hoping.

Then I finally got it. It was in my junk e-mail folder for two days. I had been rejected.

Conversely, this year, while sick, laying in bed the night before I was supposed to leave for Japan I get a new e-mail. I crossed my fingers and hit open:

"Congratulations! You have been accepted as a student for the Eddie Adams Workshop XXI!

Your application went through a rigorous selection process. After the first round of editing, yours was chosen to enter the final portfolio review where a panel of judges selected 100 applications (50 students and 50 professionals). We are very excited to welcome you as a member of the Barnstorm class of 2008!"

While I was hurting all over and nauseated, I did exhibit a big smile and my feeling of sickness vanished for a minute.

So now I'll be off to Barnstorm XXI, which is held October 10-13 in Jeffersonville, NY.

I feel privileged and hope to learn a lot from this fantastic experience, meet a lot of great photographers and make some new friends.

Thanks again Assaf, Monica and Roth.