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Democrat Photo by Jeanne Sager

ALYSSA ADAMS, WIDOW of “Barnstorm: The Eddie Adams Workshop” namesake Eddie, poses for photo retoucher Geoffrey Rittenmeyer. Rittenmeyer was on hand to work with the students in the new digital age of photography.

Behind the Lenses
In Jeffersonville

By Jeanne Sager
JEFFERSONVILLE — October 11, 2005 – A legacy came to life in Jeffersonville last weekend.
Just a year after the death of world-renowned photographer Eddie Adams, 100 photojournalists stormed his barn in the hills near Jeffersonville for the 18th annual Eddie Adams Workshop.
It was the second since his death, the first planned without his guidance.
And despite the driving rain that poured down on the county through the weekend, hundreds of the world’s best descended on Jeffersonville for what Adams’ widow, Alyssa, deputy photo editor of TV Guide, calls a workshop “for photographers, by photographers.”
This year the workshop drew people like Nancy Andrews, photo editor at the Detroit Free Press, who’s earned honors from the White House Press Photographer’s Association and Pictures of the Year, and Chris Ramirez – a freelance photographer as familiar to his neighbors in the county as he is to the world for his work in The New York Times.
The lecturers were photographers, the producers and editors were photographers, even the folks making the thousands of meals that fueled the students’ drive for the perfect photo were photographers.
Most were volunteers, many were alumni.
“We just invite the people whose work we like, and a lot of times they turn out to be alumni,” Alyssa Adams explained.
That’s what keeps the workshop going, she said, that legacy.
It’s a passing of the torch, said Aristide Economopoulos, a photographer from the Newark Star Ledger who was invited back to produce more than 10 years after showing up in Jeffersonville as a student.
In the past decade, he’s covered the 9/11 attacks in New York City, the Olympics in Athens, the White House, even hog wrestling in the nation’s heartland.
The trip to Sullivan County is something he’s been looking forward to for months.
“After working in the New York/New Jersey area, it’s nice to breathe fresh air,” he said with a laugh. “And the people here are so open to the workshop.”
Economopoulos’ enjoyment of the workshop came from the camaraderie and the experience.
“It’s just a great community of people supporting each other,” he said. “Where else in the world at 3 a.m. is the photo director of Time Magazine going to look at your photos?”
As a student, the Eddie Adams Workshop gave him confidence.
“Knowing I could work at this type of level,” he said.
It gave him inspiration, looking not only to the leaders, the producers, the editors who were all accomplished photojournalists in their own right, but to Eddie Adams as well.
Known best for his Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of a Vietnamese prisoner grimacing as he stared down the barrel of a Viet Cong soldier’s gun, Adams did it all.
He photographed Pope John Paul II and Fidel Castro, Ronald Reagan and Mickey Mouse.
Then, with Alyssa’s help, he created a workshop that would build generations of photojournalists.
Richard LoPinto, vice president of Nikon’s photo marketing division, met Eddie when he was stumping for sponsors to support his dream.
“He told me what he wanted to do, and I said, ‘Give me half an hour,’” LoPinto recalled.
He crunched the numbers, and after 18 years, Nikon is still the workshop’s biggest sponsor.
LoPinto is now a member of the board of directors, and he counts Adams as a dear friend.
“It was a relationship that endured for, regrettably, only 20 years,” LoPinto said. “For me, he was spot on. ... He was a man who knew what he wanted and knew how to get it.”
What he wanted, LoPinto said, “was to support the next generation of photojournalists.”
Even at the end of his life, Eddie was passionate about the workshop, LoPinto said.
It comes back to the legacy.
“I don’t think Eddie ever wanted to be known for that one photo,” Economopoulos said. “He’s known for the thousands of students he’s mentored.”
The workshop closed up yesterday, but for the residents of Sullivan County who helped make it happen, it isn’t over yet.
Although the producers have opted out of the traditional opening to the public because of a lack of space (neither the Jeffersonville school nor firehouse is available), photos will all be available online.
Because the workshop incorporated a multi-media component this year for the first time – recording sound along with some of its images – actual movie files will be available.
Thanks to Epson, some prints will also be provided to the public. Those made, chosen by the workshop members themselves, will be handed out at the Jeffersonville Fire Department’s annual roast beef dinner/dance on Saturday at the firehouse.
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