Imagine a photographic artist's retreat quietly situated in Michigan's north woods where you can go and be educated in a number of photographic processes as well as utilize all the equipment needed to practice your art. A place where some of the finest in their field come to hold workshops and seminars far from the hustle of any city and only a short drive from one of the largest and most beautiful freshwater lakes in the world. Well, it's already happening and with your help, it can get even better. Please read on...
Some time ago, I purchased 10 acres of beautiful Northern Michigan woodland with a dream to develop the property into a photographic retreat. Complete with camping, rustic cabin lodging and a permanent workshop facility, it would be a place where photographers would come from far and wide to share in the unique beauty of the area. Devoted to traditional, alternative as well as modern digital photographic processes, it would be a place to calm the soul and let the creativity flow.
In 2006, I sent out an invite via an online photography forum and 11 brave souls took me up on it, camped out in my woods and shared all things photography. Photostock was born and is now as much a state of mind as it is a place where photographers meet for three days each year surrounding the summer solstice.
Now, eight years after that first gathering, Photostock has grown substantially. We've had people come from all over the world to attend and we've had world-class photographers, like Shelby Lee Adams, David J. Eisenlord, Andrew L. Moore, Sandy King, Kerik Kouklis, Suzanne Revy and more lead workshops and programs surrounding the event. This year, I expect it to be the best ever.
Although part of the dream has been realized, what still eludes us is a permanent workshop facility on the grounds. This is most important in expanding our reach in that we could go beyond one weekend a year and offer regularly scheduled workshops and events all year long. People will be able to visit in all seasons to learn new creative skills while taking in one of the most beautiful places the country has to offer.
What I am proposing is a virtual barn raising of sorts and through crowd funding, I am hoping to be able to complete the structure. We already have a builder chosen and a detailed quote has been provided for the money I am seeking. Once scheduled and begun, it will take approximately two weeks for the shell to be completed and contributors will be able to witness every step of the way.
If all goes according to plan and the goal is met, we will be able to dedicate the space at this year's Photostock 2013!!! Not only that, I will begin scheduling year-round classes and workshops with many of the top instructors and artists practicing photography today. You will be able to come, spend time, learn and even book the facilities for your own special project. There will be facilities for campers as well as loft space in the building for visiting instructors and participants. The dream is large, but it is within reach with your help.
What is Already Done?
A lot is already completed and in place so that this can be a definite reality if you get involved. The buiding site has already been prepared with underground electricity so as not to spoil the woods with poles and wires. A 360-foot deep well is already producing some of the most pure water you'll find in our great state and a drainage system is already at work and awaiting wash water run-off from our future wet- and alternative-process darkroom. All of the fixtures that will be needed have been collected and donated to the cause over the years: all equipment needed for a four enlarger bay wet darkroom, Nuarc plate burner and Conrad etching press for alternative processes and photogravures, as well as state-of-the-art computers and pigment printers for digital and hybrid processes.
Oh yeah... Who is Bill Schwab?
It's possible that you already know me through my photographic work. I've been fortunate enough to have had some wonderful gallery representation throughout my career and my work has been published and collected worldwide for nearing 20 years now. I also run a small publishing imprint called North Light Press through which I publish the work of other photographers. Eternally grateful for the interest and support I've received over the years, I enjoy sharing that good fortune with people of similar interests and spreading the interest in various photographic processes. I love to lead workshops as well as photographic tours to Iceland, the Faroe Islands and more. For more about me, please click on the "Full Bio" link up in the right hand column of this page or head over to Google to see more of my work.
I've received some pretty kind words from people who have attended the Photostock Gathering and I'd like to share a few of them here with you:
"Photostock has been an amazingly inspirational experience for me, a shy quiet photographer.You have no idea how afraid I was but was immediately put at ease by all you guys. I have fond memories of 'my first time." - Marianne Priest
"That evening during the first Photostock was particularly spectacular- wonderful memories and inspiration for years to come." - Daniel Lin
"What an amazing time! Thank you very much Bill and thank you to all of the presenters! Burned a bunch of film, met many wonderful photographers, caught up with old friends, saw some truly incredible work, and had a ton of fun. Couldn't have asked for a better experience!" - Cody Gross
"Awesome event as usual - I came home inspired and ready for more photography. Too bad we have to wait a whole year to get together again!" - Jeff Bannow
"There was definitely a spark that really pushed this year's event over the top in terms of most modest expectations. The energy of Photostock seems to be continuing well past the drive home and the inevitable laundry that follows." - Tom Overton
Risks and challenges
As mentioned above, I am pretty much ready to go and don't see much in the way of potential drawbacks as long as the project is fully funded. A builder has already been chosen, a design has been submitted and a final quote for a key-ready building has been provided. The builder assures me that the structure will be completed within two weeks and I have checked out the references that back this up. They have a top-shelf crew and come highly recommended. As a backer of this project should it be fully funded, you will see the project completed. In fact, you will be kept well aware of progress as it takes place and beyond. You will receive updates and invitations to events and at some point, I hope you will be able to visit in person and attend either Photostock or one of the other many events that will be presented under our roof.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Should the project reach the goal, the contract will be signed and the deposit paid to the builder and construction scheduled as soon as possible. It is anticipated that construction will begin in April of 2013. The structure should be completed approximately two weeks after ground is broken.
First I have to send out a huge thanks to everyone who helped get it this far. Amazing after only 13 days! I can't thank you enough!
As for any money pledged beyond our goal, it will help a great deal. Anything taken in through the campaign will go into the structure and getting it ready for a full schedule of workshops. The amount that was set as a goal was only to complete the exterior of the building, but there will still be work on the interior. Dividing walls, electrical and plumbing, etc. The more taken in through the campaign, the better and more quickly ready will be the workshop facilities. Yes, we've made our goal and I don't want to be greedy, but every little bit will help.
I really appreciate donations and I do not want to sound ungrateful, but I have to admit that at this time, we are only looking for certain items. If you would be so kind as to send me a message telling me what you would like to offer, that would be great. I will get back to you as soon as I can.
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