Fishing for striper at Popham Beach State Park, Phippsburg, Maine.
Photo Credit : Heather Marcus
I love Maine, but it took a week in the Midcoast area for me to actually realize how much I adore this state. I was fortunate enough to be immersed in this unique landscape during a weeklong class at Rockport’s Maine Media Workshops & College, an educational nonprofit that offers year-round workshops for photographers, filmmakers, and media artists. My class, aptly named “Sense of Place,” was led by the incredibly talented photographer and instructor Eliot Dudik. His beautiful book Road Ends in Water is an artistic visual journey exploring place, and he brought that experience and way of seeing to our class as well.
Four of the six students in my class hailed from down South (LeeAnn Cafferata, a historian from Virginia; Walker Bankson, a student from North Carolina; Randy Roussel, an attorney from Louisiana; and Leslie Hankey, a teacher from Georgia), but there was one fellow New Englander: Janet Smith, a photographer from Arlington, Massachusetts (with some Southern roots, of course). I think we all found the Southern influence was a good thing — even if I did feel I had a bit of an accent by the end of the week because I, too, have a little Southern past, having spent some time in my father’s home state of Texas when I was a child.
It was a wonderful group of thoughtful and generous photography students, all there to learn and grow their craft. We were pushed to uncomfortable places, but it only made us work a little harder — photographing strangers and finding what scenes spoke to each of us in this coastal and rural landscape. Our five days together were filled with exploration, as we packed into an anonymous white behemoth driven by our trusty van driver/photographer/teaching assistant Julia Bennett (who also contributes to a wonderful photography journal, Lenscratch). Buzz words — asparagus, aardvark, didgeridoo — stopped us along the way if visual inspiration popped up by the roadside. But every day there was a final destination: a 4-H camp in Lincolnville, Stonington Harbor, Damariscotta, Popham Beach. We soon discovered, though, that the visual journey was just as important as where we ended up.
The differences in how each of us approached each space and place were fascinating to see. The week culminated in a much-anticipated all-you-can-eat lobster dinner and a gathering of all the classes to see a slide show of the work produced by each group during their time in Rockport. Some of my favorites included alternative-processes work from an advanced class led by Brenton Hamilton and the young artist workshops in both photography and filmmaking. The young artists (self-named “yo’s”), whose teenage enthusiasm was felt throughout the room that night, produced memorable work under the instruction of Kari Wehrs and Alex Bilodeau. I was beyond thankful to have spent a week surrounded by so much creativity and knowledge, including evening lectures by Wehrs, Dudik, and Greg Miller. It is an experience I will not soon forget.
Yankee plans to share the work from my fellow workshop students in the summer of 2018, and I’ll be so excited to see those pages come together. For now, I’m including a few favorite images from my own work at Maine Media Workshops.
To learn more about Maine Media Workshops, go to mainemedia.edu. And if you go to Rockport, don’t miss its wonderful gallery and Tim Whelan’s photography bookstore, either.