All images via Stephanie de Rouge

This time last year, we provided a sneak peek into the largest port on the East Coast, the bustling Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal, where the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) lies hidden inside the 1000-acre facility. One of the many unique places we’ve visited over the years, the terminal serves as the main port for container ships in North America — and now, photographer Stephanie de Rouge, who specializes in off-the-beaten-track photography workshops, is inviting Untapped readers inside to participate in an extraordinary photography journey on March 28. You’ll spend the day alongside a group of men and women from the Seamen’s Church Institute, whose mission it is to provide support and bring transportation to the mariners and port workers.

While Stephanie normally offers her workshop for $625, Untapped readers can get a special 12% discount ($550). To sign up for the event, contact Stephanie at stephaniederougephotography [at] gmail [dot] com.

During this special, one-day workshop, guests will follow the Chaplains and volunteers of SCI on container boats, scrap boats, oil or salt tanks, and car boats, depending on what ships arrive that day. Then, on Monday, April 9, Stephanie de Rouge will welcome participants inside her Williamsburg studio for a presentation, storytelling class, and critique session (more details below).

“This workshop is aimed at solid photographers who want to explore documentary photography and refine their storytelling skills in a visually overwhelming and humanly challenging environment,” Stephanie tells us. “This is as close as it gets to a high-level professional assignment and an incredible opportunity to shoot a highly secured place never open to the public.”

According to Stephanie, 90% of everything that is being used and consumed today in the world travels by container boat. Aboard these vessels, a crew of 20 or so people of all nationalities sail the seas for nine months at a time, only stepping foot on ground for a few hours or days every other week. They stop to unload and load again before embarking for the next destination. Our entire economy, in fact, depends on these professional mariners.

In Port Newark, the main container port of New York, the 35 chaplains and volunteers of the Seamen’s Church Institute are there to welcome the seafarers and provide them with what they need, whether it is emotional support, recreational activities, education, transportation, religious or professional legal services, wire transfer forms, calling cards, or cell phones to connect with loved ones back at home.

SCI, founded in 1834, is a direct descendant of the floating churches that once dotted the Manhattan waterfront. Today, its center is where mariners, truckers, crane drivers, security officers and all other port workers can gather together regardless of background or religion.


Shooting session: Wednesday, March 28 from 8:15am to 3pm:
Our day will start with a short train ride to Newark Penn Station where we will find transportation for SCI center in Port Elizabeth. There, we will meet with our host, review security guidelines and learn the basics of reportage photography. We will then be separated into three groups of three, and each group will follow one of the chaplains on a boat visit. Between 2:30pm and 3pm, everyone will gather again to take transportation back to New York Penn Station.

Critique session: Monday, April from 10am to 1pm:
Each student should come with a printed story of 12 images relate to his or her day in Port Newark. Also bring 10 additional pictures as a base for the critique class on storytelling. (Print quality does not matter.)

Shooting session (Wednesday, March 28): Meet at Penn Station at 8:30am (more details after registration).
Critique session (Monday April 9): Meet at 10am at Stephanie de Rouge’s studio (address will be sent after registration).

Camera, all lenses, extra batteries, snacks (there will be no lunch break), water, sturdy shoes and warm clothes

This workshop is for participants who have good control of the camera and knowledge of reportage photography. Note that there will be no access to electricity once we leave the center. Safety rules are extremely important and should be respected to the letter. There are some parts of the port where photography is strictly forbidden. Participants need to be able to run, go up and down flights of stairs, and should be willing to shoot in the cold if needed.

Security and safety: All safety guidelines and security protocols will be given to the participants prior to the trip and need to be followed. The Seamen’s Church administration cannot risk its position as welfare providers in the port. Failure to adhere to protocols may result in the termination of the visit.

To register, contact Stephanie de Rouge at stephaniederougephotography [at] gmail [dot] com. We’re also working with Stephanie to launch more unique photo workshops in June. To be notified when these events are live, sign up using our contact form below:

Next, read more about the Seamen’s Church Institute, Hidden Inside Bustling Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal and the Floating Churches for Sailors in the East River.

 new jersey, Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal, Seaman’s Church Institute

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