The Workshops as it has been known in Rockport, Maine is up for sale. David Lyman, its founder is calling it quits after 33 years to spend more time writing, producing DVDs [about what I have no clue] and sailing his boat around the world. At 66, he is also a family man now and wants to spend more time with his wife and kids. Best wishes to him.
Now if only I had a couple of million dollars, I would buy the place up and revamp it. As an alumnus of its work-study program [I swept every single step of Union Hall], I wonder if I would get a bit of a discount. All jokes aside, The Workshops was a terrific place. And yes, I would love to own a part of it. Apparently some alumni and well-wishers have set up a corporation to buy its assets. I’ll still need a couple of million dollars to invest.
A large part of me wants The Workshops to continue doing what it has done for so long; inform and inspire photographers from all walks of life to become better image makers. But even as a student there, I could feel the vibe was all off. It made even more sense when I had the chance to study at The Santa Fe Workshops. Comparing the two, the cadence was different. In Rockport, it seemed terribly money-oriented. The workshops in Santa Fe were much more relaxed.
I remember once encountering Mr. Lyman himself at the local one-hour photo processing shop in Camden. Actually, I didn’t realize he was standing behind me until it was time for me to leave the store. But as I dropped off my film off, I was asked whether I was with the workshops in Rockport. Having enrolled as a student there, I naturally said I was. Apparently the workshops had some sort of an account with the store and the man behind the counter assumed I knew that any charges I incurred would be added to that account. I made it clear to the man that I was going to pay. I returned back to the workshops where I was pulled aside and asked about my recent trip and whether I had charged my expense to the workshops. I was a bit offended that I had not been directly approached by Lyman. True, he had every right to confirm that I wasn’t siphoning off resources that rightfully belonged to his little empire. But I just wish I had been asked about my transaction in the store rather than be treated like a petty thief after the fact. I received no apology even though it was confirmed that I had paid for my own processing.
But that’s all water under a wide bridge. Isn’t it? Despite that one ugly moment, The Workshops will remain close to my heart. It was there that I learned to process black & white film, mix chemicals for wet labs and print on fiber-based paper using the Zone System [made famous by Ansel Adams of course]. It was there that I fell in love with a medium that I have obsessed over for the last 10 years.
News via Pete Kiehart