A little less than a year ago I cooked up a plan to get a few archtectural photographers to join me in a spring class at Penland School of Crafts in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. The plan was to teach a one week master class in architectural photography. As I didn't know if this was even feasible I spoke to some of the administrators at the school when I was teaching there last summer and got enough of a supportive, but cautious, response to go ahead and ask Nick Wheeler, Steve Rosenthal and Peter Vanderwarker if they would consider teaching the class. Wait a minute: four teachers in one class? Yes, that was the plan. I wrote these three amigos and almost without hesitation, they were in. I asked them if they would co-teach the class, accept almost no money and pay almost all their transportation costs. Same response: they were in.
Nick, Steve and Peter had all coexisted and competed for assignments from clients in the Boston area for many years, were and are good friends.
Now I was in real trouble as I had to convince the school this was viable. As there had never been a class with four teachers, in fact, the school had never taught architectural photography before, there was some upstream swimming to do. To their credit the school proved flexible enough to allow us to move forward with one caveat, a big one: it would be up to us to fill the class. All four of us plus our two studio assistants, began to get the word out about the class. We printed posters, contacted the American Society of Architects, emailed schools, architectural firms, etc, to build enrollment in the workshop.
It clearly worked because by the end of February the class was over subscribed.
So, flash forward to the present. I am writing this today on the last day of class on April 20 after a very intense, fast and exciting week of immersion in all things architecture, photographic and creative with a group of eleven students that were wonderful, diverse, highly motivated and very interesting. Some were already architectural photographers, some were already architects, some were designers, one was a former lawyer turned teacher, two were a father and son, and so on.
4 Amigos: Neal Rantoul, Peter Vanderwarker, Nick Wheeler and Steve Rosenthal.
I introduced the workshop the first day by saying there were over 200 years of experience assembled under one roof at Penland for the class.
Some of the students listening to a presentation underneath Peter Vanderwarker's photographs.
We spent one day shooting exteriors on a trip to Asheville, about an hour away, and another working on interiors using artists' studios and homes nearby.
Liz Ellenwood (left) and Mercedes Jelinek (right), our two amazing Studio Assistants.
In case you haven't heard, Penland is one incredible place. Filled with artists and crafts people of all kinds, artists in residence and a facility that is to die for, it has got to be one of the very finest places to study visual arts, textiles, pottery, glass, metal, jewelry, film, photography, woodworking, printmaking and on and on in the world.
Nick Wheeler explaining something to student Pauline in Asheville.
What else can I say? I am proud to have been the glue that put the class together, I am proud to have the opportunity to teach with three of the very best architectural photographers on the planet, I am proud of the students and their accomplishments, I am happy to have had Liz and Mercedes on board, and I am very pleased to have been at the oasis of creativity that is Penland for a week in the early spring in the mountains of North Carolina