Picture Editing

Cynthiana, Ky. | Harrison County | Oct. 29 - Nov. 3

July 1registration opens

$700early bird registration | $800 after August 31

Sept. 28registration closes

How do you manage the process of editing thousands of gorgeous pictures as they are unloaded off dozens of little plastic memory cards, while the creators of these images run off to their next assignment? Where do you begin when the photographer wants to take the story in one direction and you think it needs to go in another direction? How do you make good choices about content, layout and design across multiple platforms while keeping true to the story? This is where the editing begins.

With a coach-to-student ratio of approximately 1:4 the Mountain Picture Editing workshop participants, along with some of the best visual editors in the country, help guide a team of photographers through the storytelling process. They select photos, craft them into visual narratives and design the layout for a book publication.

To complement your days and nights of editing and collaborative production, each evening there are inspiring presentations by the coaches from all forms of visual journalism. Any downtime you may have is spent soaking up the knowledge of your passionate coaches and maybe getting a few hours of sleep.

You have to encourage picture editors to be a lot of things these days. We’re leading them through the whole process. 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 about having the faith that things are going to work out and visual storytelling is going to stick around forever.

Mick Cochran, Frm. Director of Photography, USA Today | Picture Editing Coach


Each October, a group of visual journalists set up shop in a different community in Kentucky to document life and culture in a way that is rarely attempted. Raw and live, it’s all about the people and their stories, not the institutions. It’s called the Mountain Workshops, and dozens of students and professionals from around the country swoop in for a week every year to garner new skills and fresh inspiration.

It’s a crash course in visual journalism.

Participants can choose from one of five options for the week. Photojournalism, the original workshop at Mountain, has always been a big hit, but Video Storytelling is increasingly in demand. If you wish to increase your knowledge in other visual skills, the Mountain Workshops can deliver. Picture Editing pushes a traditional skill set of image selection and book design into the digital age, while Digital Storytelling takes us into a world of multiple forms of media and collaborative cooperation on a single topic.

A special workshop for K-12 educators is hosted by Dataseam, a Louisville-based nonprofit that provides resources for Kentucky educators. The K-12 Educators workshop is designed to help high school teachers looking to develop their students’ communication skills to tell their own stories.

Five workshops held in one location, in one week, with a constant flow of new ideas and one-on-one guidance by the top professionals in their fields, all add up to an intense five days of high-octane education in visual communication and storytelling.

A sneak peak behind the Mountain

Headquarters location and tentative schedule


Tuesday, October 13 (all times CDT))

  • 10:00 AM Meet the coaches in the picture editing space; overview of the week, past, present, future
  • 11:00 AM Lunch buffet opens (provided)
  • 12:30 PM Attend the opening festivities 
  • 1:30 PM Our picture editing participants join their assigned photo team as it meets with its coach
  • 2:00 PM Return to picture editing room to begin the editing photo stories, InDesign instruction, exercises
  • 6:00 PM Dinner on your own
  • 7:30 PM MWS evening presentations
  • 9:30 PM Meet with Photo coaches and teams; prepare list of stories
  • 11:00 PM Lab closes

Wednesday, October 14 (all times CDT)

  • 10:00 AM Meet in picture editing space; discussions around ethics, choosing pictures, storytelling
  • 11:30 AM Check in with photo coaches to update progress of stories
  • Lunch on your own
  • 2:00 PM Editing exercises, discussions, beginning book layouts
  • 4:00 PM Check in with photo coaches
  • Dinner on your own
  • 7:30 PM MWS evening presentations
  • 9:30 PM Meet with Photo coaches and teams. Work on list of stories and/or book layouts
  • Midnight Lab closes

Thursday, October 15 (all times are CDT)

  • 10:00 AM Meet in picture editing room; storytelling workshop, continue book layout and revisions
  • 11:30 AM Check in with Photo coaches
  • Lunch on your own
  • 2:00 PM Photo editing exercises, continue layouts
  • Dinner on your own
  • 7:30 PM MWS evening presentations
  • 9:30 PM Meet with Photo coaches and teams. Work on list of stories.
  • 1:00 AM Lab closes

Friday, October 16 (all times CDT)

  • 10:00 AM Meet in picture editing room; group discussion, photo yoga, continue page edits
  • 11:30 AM Check in with Photo coaches
  • Lunch on your own
  • 2:00 PM Photo editing exercises, continue layouts
  • Dinner on your own
  • 7:30 PM MWS evening presentations
  • 9:30 PM Meet with Photo coaches and teams. Work on list of stories
  • 2:00 AM Lab closes

Saturday, October 17 (all times CDT)

  • 10:00 AM Meet in picture editing room; finish page edits
  • 12:00 PM Final card drop and Workshops group photo
  • Noon Group Lunch
  • 2:00 PM Final touches done to page layouts
  • 4:30 PM All page design, final edit deadline
  • 6:00 PM MWS final presentations
  • 9:00 PM Vendor sponsored pizza party
  • Midnight Workshop closes


The nearest airports are Lexington (LEX),  Louisville (SDF), or Nashville (BNA). We have noticed drastically different rates depending on where you are coming from, so be sure to shop around for the best deals. You will need to have a vehicle for the workshop and there are car rental places at all of the airports.  If you are in the Picture Editing workshop you may be able to share a car rental with others in that workshop. Once you apply and are accepted to the Mountain, you will be invited to a private Facebook group where you can coordinate with others about the possibility of car and hotel room sharing. Keep in mind that the video, photo and digital storytelling workshops will require driving and it is best to have your own car during the week.


You are required to provide your own hotel and dinning arrangements.  Suggested housing options will be announced once we secure our community location.


What You Do

  • Making story assignments
  • Creating a visual narrative for print and the Web
  • Using images ethically
  • Crafting design aesthetics of photo stories
  • Experience the pressure of a well-managed and guided production deadline of your pages using Adobe products on a Macintosh platform that is provided for you
  • Learn strategies to build trust with photographers
  • Use personal and public critiques to improve your editing skills
  • Collaborate with visual journalists of different skill set

What You Create

  • The narrative organization and design for the annual Mountain Workshops book
  • Moments of learning that rapidly propel your skills forward
  • A network of friends, colleagues and connections that will remain a part of your life throughout your career


Who Should Come

  • Pre-professional or early professional visual storytellers looking to increase their knowledge in the art of storytelling
  • Any visual journalist, NGO, visual editors or commercial videographer in need of inspiration or a week away to experience visual immersion to rejuvenate their passion
  • College students interested in learning more about the subtle art of editing and telling long-form visual stories about communities and the people who live in them