Posts Tagged ‘Coupeville


Images from Coupeville

Here is a small gallery of images from last Monday during Arthur Meyerson’s workshop.  There are more to come.  Feedback, as always, is deeply appreciated.



The Most Interesting Man in the World, an appreciation

You may think you know the most interesting man in the world. You don’t. I do.  Some know him as El Don, The Great American. I know him as Arthur “Danger” Meyerson.

Workshops have an energy (when they are good) that keeps you in a state of flow and good humor. Such was the case this week with Arthur Meyerson in Coupeville. Once again, Pacific Northwest Art School was the venue for learning, friendship, and photographic exploration.  A great mix of alumni and new students bonded on the first day and set the tone for the rest of the week.

At their best, workshops provide students and teachers a platform to push their boundaries.  To a person, each student this week allowed Arthur to guide, encourage, and challenge them to expand their vision and make images beyond their established styles and skill levels.  A lot of good work was produced, but most importantly, each student embraced the challenge and worked to create interesting images.

As the assistant it was my great pleasure to watch this unfold, to get to know new students, reconnect with alumni, and of course, enjoy the fabulous imagery and storytelling from Arthur. The encouragement I received for my own work from the class and from Arthur is deeply appreciated. It will keep me enthusiastic as I jump back into all the travel and work that keeps me in a state of “busy-ness” and often keeps me from feeling creative and engaged.

So what’s the point of this love fest? It’s simple: Find your own.  The camaraderie and collective vision that arises in a workshop will energize your own work and keep your spirits buoyed during creative down-time. The new skills and the expansion of your vision will give you confidence and a platform to launch new (and often, better) work.

Arthur says: “I don’t always do workshops, but when I do, I do it with Keron Psillas.” Arthur, it was an honor and a great pleasure.

Stay thirsty my friends.


A few more thoughts about Sam Abell’s workshop

If we are lucky, we get to experience an event that stays with us and molds us for the rest of our lives. I have had many blessings of this nature, but this last week reminded me of the importance of that initial experience.

In the late fall of 2005, I had the good fortune to take a workshop with Sam Abell on the mid-coast of Maine. The first night of the class offered us the opportunity to hear a lecture by Sam titled “The Photographic Life”. Sam’s sonorous story-telling style had the audience rapt, but I was struck by the deep humanity in the images as well as the personal stories of a life well-lived. Since that week I have worked hard to embody Sam’s advice of making the best picture in any situation and I have been helped by the voice that I hear while composing. It comes in from over my right shoulder and says things like this: check your edges; are the elements separated?; do they exist in their own world?; is it involving?; are there layers in the image?; setting, expression, gesture.

I’ve been assisting Sam in classes and with lectures for more than five years now. This past week I encouraged a number of good friends from all over the country to come to Whidbey Island for at least the lecture, if not the entire class. A number of (very intelligent) people took me up on the invitation. I heard from them the exact remarks that I made six years ago: It was wonderful; The sensitivity and depth of emotion in the images and the stories is deeply moving; it gives us a totally new way to see images and to think about our own photography.

Thankfully there are many wonderful teachers and mentors in the world. I’ve had several in different areas of my life. I suppose what I want to say with this blog post is this: Find a mentor or teacher whose vision and life you respect and emulate them. Make your own path, but hold on to the tenets they have lived by and see where it will lead you. The photographic life is just one life among millions of choices, but as Sam said, “it is the right life for me”. Building layers of depth and breadth in my life as well as my photographs has brought me to a place of deep appreciation and offered many moments of joy.

This state of being is open to us all but if you want to ignite a fire, take a Sam Abell course or at least experience a lecture he’s offering. Next up: Sam will be appearing at the INVision Photo Festival in Bethlehem, PA ( ) Prior to that he is teaching at the Santa Fe Workshops in early October. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Here’s a gallery of images I’ve made over the years on Whidbey Island and around Seattle. I vow each year during the class to spend more time photographing…this time I made it happen.  You can too.


Sam Abell Interview

First Drafts: How Sam Abell Makes a Photograph, Alex Hoyt and Ross McDermott

I’m busy finishing the book layout that was created in our week-long workshop at the Pacific Northwest Art School in Coupeville, Washington.  The layered life on Whidbey Island, as it is everywhere, became the backdrop for Sam to teach his method of photography, one of layers, of “compose and wait” and one of still life scenes that have a life or incorporate life. This interview encapsulates that teaching in a marvelous 10 minutes of a deeply considered philosophy and lifelong process of making photographs. Take the time to view it and you’ll have the outline of  our workshop and a sense of the meticulous care that Sam takes to create Life in a Still Life.

Next post:more thoughts and favorites images from Coupeville over the years of (gratefully) assisting Sam.


A really big announcement and a wrap up from Whidbey Island

I’m delighted to tell all my readers that Meditation for Two is going to be published in Germany, Switzerland, and Brazil!  I’m so excited and deeply gratified.  All the thanks goes to Dominique for without his tremendous success with Dressage for the New Age (published in 5 countries and in its third edition in the US) this would not have happened.  I’m working now on finalizing a publisher in France and the US and hope to announce the details quickly.  The message here:  Dreams do come true.  Of course, the book is still available on (and would make a GREAT gift at Christmas for Zen-leaning equestrian enthusiasts).

I’m hard at work completing the book project that the class from the Pacific Northwest Arts School created during their week-long course with Sam Abell.  The book title is Portrait of Whidbey Island. I had the great pleasure to assist this class for the fourth year in a row and am already looking ahead to a reunion next August.  The level of engagement on behalf of the students was extraordinary and surpassed only by the generosity and quality of Sam’s instruction. His alumni know that the discussions during the week will be thought provoking and erudite. That is why they return each year. New students are treated to original thought and genuine care about their work and progress. Sam is unparalleled as an instructor. It is my great honor to have assisted him on so many occasions.  In addition to the week-long course in Coupeville, area residents had the opportunity to hear Sam speak. The Life of A Photograph was the topic, to be followed next year with the second half of the lecture, The Photographic Life.  I’m certain that every person present last week will return and bring a friend.  It was THAT good.  Thank you, Lisa, Karen, and Sue, for all your hard work and dedication.  PNAS adds so much to the quality of life on Whidbey Island.

As soon as I finished on Whidbey Island last Friday night I zipped down to Healdsburg, CA, to photograph the clinic at Dominique’s farm.  This was the first time a formal clinic was held there and it was incredibly well-attended.  The organization, Shanna, Meredith, Beth, and Linda’s help, and of course Debra and Dominique’s instruction made for fun-filled days that were packed with information and philosophy…all with the benefit of the horse as the focus.  Riders and auditors alike went away with a renewed dedication to communicate with and learn from their horses. If you are a rider you’ll want to attend the next clinic at their home in January 2011….the 5th thru the 11th.  Reserve your spot quickly as space is limited and the August clinic was over-subscribed.

Here are recent images of several of my favorite equestrian subjects.  Enjoy!

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