5 WORKSHOPS IN 1
Each October, as the leaves begin to turn, a group of visual journalists set up shop in a different region of Kentucky to document its life and culture in a way that is rarely attempted. Raw and live, it’s all about the people, not the institutions.
It’s called the Mountain Workshops, and dozens of students and professionals swoop in for a week to garner new skills and fresh inspiration. Photojournalism, the original workshop at Mountain, remains the most popular, but Video Storytelling is increasingly in demand.
Among the three other workshops, Picture Editing pushes a traditional skill set into the Digital Age, while Time-Lapse takes us into a magical world of motion. The newest workshop, Data Visualization, probes the masses of abstract charts and numbers to create stories of real people.
Five workshops in one. It all adds up to a week of high-octane education in visual communication and storytelling skills, guided by the top professionals in their fields.
Mountain Workshops is all about building relationships with people, and using great photos to tell their stories. If you want to be a photojournalist, your coaches – some of the best photographers in the nation – will give you a big shove in the right direction.
“There’s a spirit here of the desire for success for everybody. That can kind of lift people up and push them forward that might have a problem going forward on their own.”
– Rick Loomis, L.A. TimeSkills you will develop:
- Shooting a variety of shots for simple assignments
- Building trust with photo subjects
- Creating a personal style
- Using critiques to improve your photos
- Crafting a cohesive visual story
- Capturing beautiful moments
- Putting humanity before photography
Participants generate the photos for the annual Mountain Workshops website, a printed book and a museum-quality photo exhibit featuring a different Kentucky community every year.
The book is the Workshops’ gift to the people of the community who let journalists enter their lives for a week.
Thousands of gorgeous pictures are loaded off dozens of little plastic memory cards. Each is assigned a number, thrown into a digital folder and forgotten as their creator runs off to their next assignment, like a little kid who just made a huge mess they will never have to clean up.
Then the editing begins.
Picture editors are just like parents. But instead of Hot Wheels and homework, their children are running around with pricey equipment and critical deadlines.
At Mountain Workshops, picture editing participants help guide a team of photographers through the storytelling process. They select photos, craft them into visual narratives, and design the layout for publication.
“We try to teach people how to tell good stories. That’s going to always be a skill that journalists have to have. It’s great to see how strongly good storytelling is stressed here.”
– Mick Cochran, retired Director of Photography, USA TodaySkills you will develop
- Making story assignments
- Creating a visual narrative
- Managing photographers
- Using images ethically
- Crafting design aesthetics of photo stories
Participants craft the narrative organization and design for the annual Mountain Workshops book, a print and digital publication featuring a different Kentucky community every year.
The book is the Workshops’ gift to the featured community. The people of Kentucky let journalists enter their lives for a week, and in return their little world is memorialized forever.
Video is the closest humanity has come to developing teleportation. Watching a video, viewers can see all the subtle movements that photographs simply miss. They can hear the world as it really is, and they can feel the emotion in a voice – emotion that text alone can’t convey.
What tool could be more perfect for a professional storyteller?
“It’s a total sprint to the end and you think you’re not going to make it, but you do. You come through with all these different people and you’re connected with them for the rest of your life.”
Liz Baylen, Los Angeles TimesSkills you will develop
- Using audio to convey emotion
- Constructing a narrative arc in video
- Collaborating with journalists using different skillsets
- Crafting video using professional software
- Creating a portfolio-worthy video piece
Participants generate audiovisual stories for the Mountain Workshops’ web publication, which features a different Kentucky community every year.
The publication is the Workshops’ gift to the featured community and the people who let journalists enter their lives for a week.
The future is here. The proof is on YouTube, where thousands of videos show grass growing, thanks to the magic of time-lapse photography.
At the Mountain Workshops, time-lapse isn’t just for making pretty videos. It’s used to tell stories. At the convergence of the photo and video worlds, participants learn to see the motion behind images. While still photography seeks the right moment, time-lapse takes hours and crunches them into moments.
This workshop teaches the entire workflow from start to finish for planning, editing and shooting meaningful time-lapse photography.
“It’s a unique opportunity to have, through the sponsorships of Canon and Nikon, access at your fingertips to anything you would want to use to shoot a time-lapse of anything. Any camera any body any lens.”
Grant Kaye, Grant Kay PhotographySkills you will develop
- Using every piece of technology and software available for time-lapse
- Identifying the daily motion of still images
- Pushing through a standardized workflow
- Adjusting a camera for long-term exposure changes
- Using time-lapse in narrative storytelling.
- Incorporating time-lapse into journalism
Participants build a handful of time lapses for the annual Mountain Workshops digital publication featuring a new Kentucky community every year. The presentation published on the web is the Workshops’ gift to the people of the featured community.
“As a digital journalist in 2014, you need to know how to do all this stuff. It’s going to make you a stronger storyteller.”
– Jonathon Berlin, Graphics Editor, Chicago TribuneSkills you will develop:
- Pulling story ideas from raw data
- Using various software platforms to visualize data
- Designing graphics
- Creating interactive media
- Identifying the bigger picture of smaller stories
- Finding data
Participants generate static infographics for the annual Mountain Workshop book, and interactive graphics for the accompanying digital publication.
The book features a new Kentucky community every year and serves as a gift to the featured community. The people of Kentucky let journalists enter their lives for a week, and in return their little world is memorialized forever.
Can I attend any of these workshops even though I am not a student?
Yes, the workshop is open to anyone who wants to improve their storytelling abilities. We have had participants from major newspapers and magazines as well as freelance visual story tellers who run their own business and see the workshops as a way to give them an edge over the competition.
If I am a student but not at Western Kentucky University can I attend any of the workshops?
Yes. In fact, almost half of our college age enrollment comes from universities other than Western Kentucky.
What do tuition fees for each workshop cover?
Tuition covers educational costs only. You will need to pay for your hotel, travel and food costs during your stay.
Do I need to bring equipment?
The Workshops have a network of computers for participant use. If you are in the video storytelling, picture editing, data visualization or time-lapse groups you will have a computer set up for you with all the necessary software. If you are in the shooting workshop you will view your work on your coach’s workstation. Participants write photo captions and stories in our writing area, which is provided with a number of shared workstations. All the images from the shooting portion of the workshop are archived on our servers, but if you wish to archive your own images and take them with you, you should bring a laptop and card reader and download your images throughout the week.
Do I need to bring a laptop?
The Workshops have a network of computers for participant use. If you are in the video storytelling or picture editing groups you will have a computer set up for you with all the necessary software. If you are in the shooting workshop you will view your work on your coach’s workstation. Participants write photo captions and stories in our writing area, which is provided with a number of shared workstations. All the images from the shooting portion of the workshop are archived on our servers, but if you wish to archive your own images and take them with you, you should bring a laptop and card reader and download your images throughout the week.
Do I need to bring an external hard drive?
Whichever workshop you enroll in, if you wish to take your content home with you, you will need to bring a hard drive. We recommend at least 500GB of free space for video storytelling participants, and 50GB for the shooting workshop.
QDo participants need to provide their own equipment?
We expect participants to have their own still camera bodies, lenses and flashes. For many years Nikon and Canon representatives have been at the Workshops with a wide range of loaner gear for still shooters, but nothing is guaranteed. Canon and Nikon provide DSLR bodies for those in the video storytelling workshop who need them. A limited amount of audio gear is provided by our Sennheiser sponsors, and Manfrotto supplies a limited number of tripods for participant use. Every year the Workshops depend on sponsor support, for which we are deeply grateful. However, we encourage all participants to bring as much of their own equipment as possible.
Do I need a car?
Yes. Covering your story and shooting features will require that you’re able to travel to different locations in the county throughout the week.
Who will the coaches be?
Each year we select coaches based on their professional experience and their ability to mentor participants and support their learning and growth. We usually announce the final roster of coaches about a month before the Workshops begin, often sooner. You’ll find the announcement on our web site (http://www.mountainworkshops.org/apply) and also on our Facebook page.
Do I get to pick my coach?
No. We pair coaches and participants based on a variety of factors. You will be assigned to one coach, but you are also encouraged to meet with other coaches during the week and take advantage of their insights and suggestions.
Do I have to find my own story?
No. We have story researchers scouring the county well in advance of the workshop.
How are stories assigned?
Names, descriptions, and contact information for story subjects are piled in a hat, and each participant randomly draws an assignment at the opening of the workshops. (Be sure to watch our “About” video.) After drawing your assignment from the hat you will discuss the story with your coach and then go out and try to secure the cooperation of your subject. Every person has a story, and the faculty and staff of the Workshops come together to help you find a compelling way to tell that story.