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Telling the story of Kentucky for the past 42 years. This year the participants set their sights on the community of Morehead and Rowan County

October 24—28, 2017

The website is still being worked on. In the meantime watch our trailer! 

Our web team is dreaming about their time in Morehead waiting for a ride and making the most of their experience. Now they’re all back at their desks hard at work bringing a new snazzy website that they hope to be finished with soon! We’ll share an update when it’s done. Thanks for your patience! 📸: @profkenharper #mtnworkshops (at Cave Run Cabins at The Brownwood)

The labbies are done cleaning! Back to BG and @wku they go. Classes tomorrow! #mtnworkshops (at Morehead, Kentucky)

MOREHEAD — Donghoon Sung, a photojournalist in Seoul, South Korea, felt lost in his work, going from assignment to assignment on staff with Newl Korea wire service and missing a clear perspective on how to reinvigorate his storytelling.

“There is a limit,” he says. “There is a wall and you don’t know how to get over it.”

He always wanted to visit the United States to meet and learn from photographers, so when the U.S. Embassy in Seoul partnered with the Korea Photo Press Association to invite photographers to a visual journalism workshop in Kentucky, he took it.

Donghoon, 35, is one of four South Korean photojournalists who joined Mountain Workshops in Rowan County this year, looking for a chance to learn from new people, be inspired, make new pictures and experience a different culture. His colleagues were Soyoung Shin, Sung Chul Lee and Jinhwan Hong.

The roughly 16-hour flight had more to look forward to for these photographers than critiques of their work. They experienced a new country and a new culture… and they became the envy of their friends back home when they walked into KFC in Morehead for a taste of a Korean favorite in the motherland of fried chicken.

“Kentucky has special meaning,” Soyoung says, laughing and swearing Korean fried chicken is actually superior.

During the week, Donghoon reported the story of a quintessential small-town gas station and diner and sought one-on-one time with photo coaches – members of the American photo press, who are at the forefront of the industry, he says. He sat at Washington Post staff photographer Jahi Chikwendiu’s elbow as they talked about Donghoon’s work and the duty to show stories about life rather than just make artistic pictures.

“He gave me huge advice,” Donghoon says. “You definitely need somebody” when you feel lost and need help gaining perspective. … “Of course, you can do it yourself but it takes a lot of time.”

Soyoung, a photojournalist with The Hankyoreh, a daily newspaper in Seoul, says South Korea’s community of photojournalists is small and tight-knit.

She looked forward to seeing the differences between the U.S. approach to photo and Korea’s. In some instances, it was a matter of different tastes. She worked with photo coach Kevin Martin, who was patient and helpful.

“In Korea, there is no program like this,” says Soyoung, who’s 36 and about a decade into her career. “I thought they could inspire me.”

Sung Chul, 27, who’s fresh to the industry after just seven months at the Incheon Times, says he focused on different techniques when reporting his assignment at Mountain Workshops, taking advantage of a few days without the constraints of a daily news deadline.

“I was concentrating on the mood of the picture,” he says. “I felt some freedom.”

Our #dataviz coach Jonathon Berlin has been using local data to tell us about Morehead and Rowan County.  

Final card drop! @maxxcreatives @ekrhyne @spencerbakalar @jakemayphoto @bethfeagan @han_leboeuf #mtnworkshops (at Kentucky IFSAC Accredited Fire Fighter Certification)

Picture Editing Warriors. ⚔️⚔️⚔️ #mtnworkshops 📸: @weddingsbyjenntai (at Kentucky IFSAC Accredited Fire Fighter Certification)

Time-lapse, code, and intensity: Day 4 behind-the-scenes images. 📸: @ninasdanzpartey

Morehead moments: Day 4. #mtnworkshops 📸: Anna Miller, Brooke Warren, Carly Geraci, Craig McClure, Erik Kruthoff, Fran Ruchalski, Jinhwan Hong, Kelsea Hobbs, Matthew Merchant #more2morehead (at Morehead, Kentucky)

A post shared by Mountain Workshops (@mtnworkshops) on

Holy amazeballs batman! @outernets.co is working on a visualization of all the images shot during the #mtnworkshops 💻📈💯🌐 #more2morehead #dataviz #datavisualization (at OUTER SPACE)

MOREHEAD — Nearly a hundred dots on a map spread over 21 states and four countries converged Tuesday in a city on the edge of the Appalachian mountains.

Participants at the 42nd Mountain Workshops in Rowan County include professionals working for nonprofits, daily newspapers, and digital platforms and college students from as close as Morehead State and as large as Michigan State. They come for their own reasons, but they all will spend five days working with and learning from award-winning journalists from across disciplines.

We talked to a few participants who have stepped out of work to become students again for the sake of their craft.

Sarah Baker, a multimedia editor with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington D.C., usually shoots stills. She signed up for the video storytelling workshop to explore another way to tell children and families’ stories in and outside the United States.

“The video medium enables the artist to give the subject a stronger voice and truer presence,” Sarah said. “There is something very powerful about giving the subject a voice to tell their story.”

In the summer, she traveled to Sierra Leone with Sonnia House — a non-government organization that works with orphans and vulnerable children in Mattru Jong. She used photos to tell the story of how the organization has impacted 120 children. She’ll go back next year motivated to use video to let children tell it in their own words.

Sean Loftin came back to Mountain Workshops 20 years after graduating from Western Kentucky University with a photojournalism degree. He taught himself video as a staff photographer at a daily newspaper in the early 2000s. He started Ubertonic Films in St. Louis in 2014. He returned to the workshops this year to be refreshed and immersed in creativity.

“I need to be surrounded by teaching,” he said. “I need to get inspiration from everyone I’m around.”

Maureen Stewart wants to wrap her head around working with numbers to tell more visually compelling data stories for Airman magazine, an all-digital publication for the Air Force, where she’s a graphic designer.

She came to Mountain for the data visualization workshop to dive into programs she’s avoided mastering at the magazine. She wants to leave at the end of the week feeling more confident using the tools she works with every day.

“I’m creatively minded. My job is to communicate information quickly in an aesthetically pleasing way,” she said. “I want to be less intimidated by numbers.”

Morehead moments: Day 3. #mtnworkshops 📸: Abigail Dollins, Anna Miller, Dimitri Staszewski, Erik Kruthoff, Jennifer Kerrigan, Carly Geraci, Mira Laing & Sung Lee #more2morehead (at Morehead, Kentucky)

Good morning from the #mtnworkshops !!! Yesterday’s 🌅 was 💯🏔🌎😍📸: @ninasdanzpartey (at Farmers, Kentucky)

Fog, flight, and foal. What a great day 3 behind-the-scenes. Photos by Nina Greipel 

Jonathon Berlin shares the links of his #dataviz presentation with us! (link in profile) 🖊📈📊🔍📐#mtnworkshops (at Kentucky IFSAC Accredited Fire Fighter Certification)

Evening edit. #mtnworkshops #more2morehead (at Morehead, Kentucky)

Bobcats represent! Shoutout to our friends at @viscomohiou #mtnworkshops (at Morehead, Kentucky)

Lots and lots and lots of learning! Day 2 Behind The Scenes. #mtnworkshops #more2morehead

Some of our favorite participant photos from the first day! Morehead is an amazing place!

DENNY SIMMONS | PHOTO COACH

Denny Simmons has been making pictures and getting paid for it since landing his first job at the Jacksonville (Ill.) Journal-Courier after graduation from Mizzou in ‘93. He has been lucky enough to work for “photography friendly” newspapers his entire career. Simmons was a photo editor at the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press, picture editor at the Waukegan (Ill.) News-Sun (Copley Nation represent!) and now is the “visuals content coach” for the Courier & Press in Evansville, Ind., and The Gleaner in Henderson, Ky.

As the changes in the industry have thrown most of us for a loop, Simmons and his staff continue to fight the good fight for the telling of stories with pictures. It is never easy to find the time to invest in good storytelling, but he believes the time can be found if the desire is strong enough.

Simmons is strong believer in maintaining balance in his life (thank you, Tom Kennedy, for the advice), so when he isn’t working, he can usually be found chasing after his wife of 24 years, Penny, as she motors along the newly created trails at Friedman Park in Paradise, Ind. Skateboards and fishing poles are also always close-at-hand in case Simmons ever comes upon any smooth 'crete or good water. Their two children, Ben, 21, and Hannah, 19, are spending their days at the University of Evansville and Murray State University and have shown zero interest in journalism.