of inspiration, learning and visually exploring Kentucky
Early Bird Registration | $950 after Aug. 31, 2017
Journalists of all types are swimming in a sea of data. Governments, NGOs, private organizations and individuals are collecting, organizing and sharing data sets of all sorts, but the volume can be overwhelming for storytellers. You know that long tables of data don’t communicate interesting stories, but you also know that this information is important to provide in order for your audience to grasp (and to care about) the meaning behind the numbers. This is where data visualization can be very effective.
The Mountain Workshops is firmly grounded in communicating compelling stories. Over the past 4 decades, the workshops have focused on telling stories with pictures, video and sound, but today’s journalists must also be savvy about how they present visual narratives that originate in data.
Working with an average coach-to-student ratio of 1:10, the Data Visualization workshop will guide you through the process of how to find, sort through, read, organize and determine the best and most modern approaches to visualizing data. You will work with the industry’s best professional coaches who will guide you to think accurately, ethically and creatively to produce visual graphic stories from sets of data.
Like all of our workshops, instruction will be individually catered to the level of each participant, but no prior experience working with data visualization or infographics is necessary. The workshop will be geared toward journalists, non-profit staff members, photographers, students, scientists and researchers. Come join us to explore this new world of data and learn to share information in new ways with your audience.
"I think it’s a really significant thing that this really wonderful, innovative and long-running photography workshop wants to try to figure out how we do what we do with this other type of storytelling."
Jonathon Berlin, Chicago Tribune | Data Visualization Coach
Data Visualization project in Paducah | 2016
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 six 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 Time-Lapse takes us into a fascinating world of compressed time through motion. The Data Visualization workshop probes the masses of abstract charts and numbers to create stories that affect real people.
A special workshop for K-12 educators is hosted by Dataseam, a Louisville-based nonprofit that provides resources for Kentucky educators. The Dataseam Teacher Track workshop is designed to help high school teachers looking to develop their students’ communication skills to tell their own stories.
Six 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.
Behind the scenes in Paducah | 2016
Location and Schedule
Location is still being determined
7:30 AM | Registration opens
8:00 AM | Vendor’s tables open
10:00 AM | Data Visualization Workshop first meeting
12:00 PM | Opening ceremony for all participants, hat draw
4:00 PM | Final project deadline
6:30 PM | Closing ceremony starts
12:00 AM | End of workshops
"If I skipped Mountain Workshops, I’d get more sleep. I might look younger…and feel older. Without it, I’d have less energy to pour into personal projects, less sense of belonging to a global tribe of storytellers. Less places to be a kid, less opportunities to fail. And less people still teaching me, even though I graduated years ago, how to be a better student and kinder human being. Going to Mountain is kinda like going home to see family — I don’t do it often enough, and whenever I do, I wish I could stay longer."
Adam Lau, M.A. Candidate/UNC, 2016 Paducah Participant
Seats fill quickly. Your participation is only secure after payment is received in full. Acceptance does not guarantee a seat. It is best to make your payment as quickly as possible once you have been notified of your acceptance. If a workshop sells out before you pay, we will start a waiting list and contact you based upon the order of your initial registration date if any openings occur. You will have 24 hours to pay once we contact you via your registration email to secure a wait-listed seat. After that we will contact the next applicant on the list.
Cancellation and Refunds
- If notified by August 31, full refund minus $100
- If notified by October 4, full refund minus $200
- We cannot offer any refund if notified after 12:01AM, October 5
We understand that life happens and there are reasons that you may have to cancel your participation after you have paid. We will do what we can to assist you in your cancellation but the Mountain Workshops is not responsible for cancellations due to family or medical emergencies. If, for some reason, we have to cancel one of our workshops due to inadequate enrollment or other situations beyond our control, we will reimburse all funds paid directly to us. We cannot be responsible for hotel or non-refundable airline tickets.
Transportation, Food and Lodging
A car/transportation is required for the photojournalism, video and time-lapse workshops. For data visualization and picture editing it is possible to secure rides with other participants in the same workshop or the Mountain Workshops MAY assist with ground transportation if you are staying at one of our recommended hotels but mobility may be very limited. It is best to communicate with us before paying tuition if you intend to not have a car at the workshops.
You are responsible to obtain your own airline, hotel reservations and meals as well as transportation to and from the airport to the workshop community.
The Fine Print
Our coaches are professionally in high demand and sometimes a listed coach is unable to participate because of a change in their schedule. If we need to replace a coach, we will do so with a person of similar credentials in the business. We will notify paid participants of a coaching change via email.
The Mountain Workshops does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, clients, volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, and clients.
All participants retain the copyrights to their own photographs/video/audio obtained during the Mountain Workshops and agree to allow the Mountain Workshops and Western Kentucky University to use those materials as well as the participant’s likeness without compensation for promotional products such as Web Sites, broadcast dissemination, books, multimedia and exhibits related to the Mountain Workshops or Western Kentucky University. At their discretion, Western Kentucky University will maintain an archive of your images. Each participant will receive by mail one complimentary copy of the Mountain Workshops book that is produced during the week.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can either put the URL of your work online on the application form, email images or videos (under 8 megs) to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail a hard copy to:
Western Kentucky University
The Mountain Workshops
1906 College Heights Blvd. #11070
Bowling Green, KY 42101-1070
Yes you can, but only one at a time. Photography, video, data visualization, time-lapse and picture editing all run at the same time, so you can only take one workshop per year. However, each workshop has its own educational component, and coming back each year for a new workshop will result in an entirely new experience. There is no suggested order for taking the 5 workshops; just choose whichever order that makes the most sense to you in your educational training.
Yes, the workshop is open to anyone who wants to improve his or her storytelling abilities. We have had participants from major newspapers and magazines as well as freelance visual storytellers who run their own business and see the workshops as a way to give them an edge over the competition.
Yes. In fact, almost half of our college-age enrollment comes from universities other than Western Kentucky. We welcome graduate students as well.
Tuition covers educational costs only. You will need to pay for your hotel, travel and food costs during your stay.
The Mountain Workshops has a network of Macintosh computers for participant use. If you are in the video storytelling, data visualization, time-lapse or picture editing workshop, you will have a computer set up for you with all the necessary software. If you are in the photography workshop you will view your work on your coach’s workstation. Photography participants write captions and stories in our writing area that is provided with a number of shared workstations. All the images from the photography 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.
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 250GB of free space for Video storytelling workshop, and 100GB for the Photojournalism workshop.
We expect all photography, video and time-lapse participants to have their own camera bodies, lenses, tripods and lighting system. For many years Nikon and Canon representatives have been at the Workshops with a wide range of loaner gear, but nothing is guaranteed. Our Sennheiser sponsor provides a limited amount of audio gear, and Benro and MidWest Photo or a similar vendor may supply a limited number of tripods for participant use. The time-lapse workshop will have a variety of gear available but we encourage to have at least one tripod and an intervalometer. These are built into many Nikon cameras. Every year the Mountain Workshops depends on sponsor support, for which we are deeply grateful. However, we encourage all participants to bring as much of their own equipment as possible.
Yes. Covering your story and shooting features will require that you’re able to travel to different locations in the county throughout the week. The picture editor and data visualization participants spend most of their day at the headquarters. However, you are responsible to get yourself to and from the hotel and also to get out for dining purposes. It is possible to share rides, and in some instances, it is possible to walk. But verify the headquarter location to your selected hotel before you choose the walking options. These communities are small and many do not have taxi or Uber service.
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 and also on our social media outlets.
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.
No. We have story researchers scouring the county well in advance of the workshop.
Names, descriptions, and contact information for story subjects are put into in a hat, and each participant randomly draws an assignment at the opening of the workshops. 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 at the Mountain Workshops will come together to help you find a compelling way to tell that story.
In the Photojournalism workshop we limit the amount of images you can take. Your coaches will work with you about how each photograph is made. Our educational philosophy is to slow down and concentrate on moments. Turn off your motor drive and connect with your subject. Our workflow is in JPEG format, if you wish to shoot RAW files you will need to shoot both RAW and JPEG. We will ingest the JPEGs into our workflow and you will be responsible to save your own RAW files for later use.
Ready to Apply?
Interested applicants must fill out the online application to start the process to be considered for the 2017 Mountain Workshops. Data Visualization participants are required to express an interest in journalistic storytelling and a desire to learn. There is no portfolio requirement, however, a link to your photography/design work is always helpful in determining our selection. Once accepted, you will be notified by email and instructed on how to pay to reserve your spot. This workshop can sell out. Your seat is not confirmed until you make your payment. Registration and acceptance alone does not guarantee a seat.
What you do
Use various software platforms to visualize data
Create interactive media Identify the bigger picture of smaller stories
What you create
Static infographics for the annual Mountain Workshops book, and interactive graphics for the accompanying digital publication
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
College, pre-professional or early professional visual storytellers looking to increase their knowledge with a new form of storytelling
Scientists and researchers looking to present their data in more accurate and meaningful ways of communication
Staff members of NGOs, non-profits and PR agencies who want to learn to present data in a meaningful way