Introducing our two new workshop assistants



Wayne Smith’s photograph of a fisherman at Wasque, where blues are running like they were in the ’70s.

by Sue Dawson

ALISON’S BEEN TEACHING week-long workshops on Martha’s Vineyard since the mid-1980s. They were first hosted by Atlanta’s Southeastern Center for the Arts (owner Neil Chaput then moved to Montana, where he founded Rocky Mountain School of Photography). Classes were held in a different place every year – even in Alison’s living room. Those were the days of shooting with film cameras, so Alison had an assistant who dropped off at least 50 rolls of film at the airport each morning, so they could be flown to Logan Airport, driven by courier to a lab in Boston, and rush-processed. He or she would pick up yesterday’s processed film – now slides – and bring them back to the group each day. No one knew for sure how their images would look, until they saw the slides. Students “bracketed” their shots, meaning that they shot multiple images of the same thing at different exposures, to increase the chances of getting a good one. When the slides came in, they’d be spread out on a light table, the best shots chosen, and loaded into a slide projector for group critiques.

Things are so different now… 

Classtime is held at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center, in a gorgeous theater with cushy seats and a huge screen. We host a group dinner Friday night, in a local restaurant, and a final slideshow Saturday morning that’s open to the public. All students shoot with digital cameras, so daily critiques include images you shot just hours earlier. You can see your images in-camera right away, but the technological “bar” is a lot higher these days. There’s still a learning curve for shooting, but now there’s also the digital darkroom, which is a daunting thing for many photographers. You need to have an efficient workflow, and know how to process your images digitally.

We’re excited to announce that we’ll have two assistants for our workshops this year, so that we can meet the varied needs of our students. Wayne Smith, a local photographer and surfcaster (see today’s Vineyard Gazette story about his fishing success here), will offer his many years of expertise with shooting, and managing a photo studio in Boston. Jeff Bernier, a local photographer and retired tech teacher at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, will teach what you need to know in Adobe Lightroom on our first morning together, and be available for tech questions the rest of the week. Long-time workshop alum and friend Jen Sayre will help with setup, errands, and all of your caffeinated beverage needs, as she’s done for several years. All of this added teaching and assistance will free Alison to do what she does best. Our team will support each student where they are, thus manifesting each student’s own best experience.

If you’ve been thinking of taking a workshop with Alison, this is a great year to do it. Grab your spot now – there’s a pdf you can download here, with details and registration info (look for the blue type).

12 Responses

  1. Donald Moel says:

    Having more help with the technical aspects of editing and organizing is a great idea. For me the workshop is like a tennis camp. When I start out I am rusty but as the week progresses I get better and develop a “rhythm”that feels good. Early on the technical stuff slows me down and I even get frustrated. If I can get through the technical stuff early I will be able to shoot and reach my “rhythm” more easily.

  2. Heather says:

    hi, we met last year a dede and johns vineyard house . I love your work and wish I could afford one of your workshops. do you ever travel for them? I live on the eastern shore of va, where natural beauty abounds!
    heather silverman

  3. Donna says:

    But I don’t think we should loose site that the workshop is to learn photo technique from Alison and not to be stuck on technical.

  4. Dee Heard says:

    Sue, I admire the way you and Alison are always working to make your workshops, and the experience of the photographers, better and better. This new work sharing sounds good and I am sure will produce the best results for everyone !

  5. Am coming to the vinyard for three days in August. Might Alison have two hours to do a critique of my work? And if so, what would be the cost? In the past, I have taken three workshops with Alison. Will be on the Vinyard on August 11th and 12th. Thanks. Sherwood Samet at

  6. Toby Condliffe says:

    What time and where on Sept 26 is the public showing of the photos from Alison’s first 2015 MV workshop?

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