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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


Leslye Davis is a documentarian and photographer at The New York Times, where she has worked since 2012. She reports across multiple desks including Investigations, International, National and Metro, and frequently collaborates with the newspaper’s designers and graphics department.

Her work has been nominated for an Emmy and a Gerald Loeb Award for explanatory journalism, and she was part of a team of journalists who were finalists for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. In 2011, Pictures of the Year International honored her for Multimedia Portfolio of the Year.

Her work focuses on innovation in storytelling, grounded in the pursuit of understanding everyday issues.


Alton Strupp has been served on the staff at the Courier Journal in Louisville, KY since 2012. In that time he has been named Kentucky Photographer of the Year three times. He was named the NPPA Monthly Clip Region 9 and overall National Photographer of the Year for 2017. His work primarily focuses on community journalism and portraiture in the Bluegrass State.


Yalonda “Yoshi” James is an award-winning photojournalist, video producer, and documentary filmmaker originally from Spartanburg, South Carolina. Her passion is documenting stories focusing on social justice issues. Before joining the San Francisco Chronicle, Yoshi worked for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, TN, and The Charlotte Observer in Charlotte, NC. During her tenure at the CO, Yoshi was a 2008 Pulitzer Prize finalist with her Observer team for a project called, ‘Sold a Nightmare,’ which earned them a second place Gold Medal for Public Service. Her short documentary film, “The BLM (Black Lives Matter) Bridge Protest: One Year Later,” will screen at the Bend Film Festival in Bend, Oregon in October 2018.


Jack Gruber is a staff photographer at USA TODAY. After passing his driver license test at sixteen, Jack walked into the offices of The Daily Advocate, a small hometown newspaper with a circulation of just 7,000 readers in Greenville, Ohio and declared that he wanted to be a photographer. Holding back laughter, the managing editor tossed the high school sophomore a film canister telling him to go into the darkroom and process the exposed roll of black and white film. If he could manage that, they would talk. Able to read the processing directions taped on the wall, Gruber managed to not destroy the film while spooling it on a reel and processing it correctly. That was his first job interview and the start of Jack Gruber’s career as a photojournalist. After graduating from the Ohio University School of Visual Communication, Jack worked as a staff photographer at the Flint Journal, The Detroit News and the Commercial Appeal in Memphis before joining the staff at USA TODAY, first based in San Francisco for ten years before moving to USA TODAY’s headquarters in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C.


“I think of myself as a journalist who chooses the art of photography to bring awareness to issues throughout the world. As a documentary photojournalist, I adhere to a code of ethics and my pictures depict the unvarnished realities of life. Art is a powerful means of expression, but combined with journalism it has the ability to bring awareness to issues that can elevate the public’s understanding and compassion and hopefully affect meaningful social change.” – Renée C. Byer Renée C. Byer is an award-winning American documentary photojournalist and multimedia field producer best known for her in-depth work focusing on the disadvantaged and those who otherwise would not be heard. Her ability to produce photographs with profound emotional resonance and sensitivity earned her the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography in 2007 and dozens of national and international honors, including the World Understanding Award from Pictures of the Year International, and Pulitzer Finalist in 2013. In 2014, Byer’s images documented a Sacramento Bee investigative series on patient dumping from Nevada that was named a Pulitzer Finalist. Known for her ability to translate stark statistics into images that connect us to our humanity, she has traveled throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, covering some of the most important issues of our time. Byer’s stories have deepened our understanding of the environment, climate change, extreme poverty, genetically modified food, healthcare, women at war, domestic violence, and the drought and economic crisis in California. Most recently the Sacramento Bee published a 20-page special section, “No Safe Place,” featuring her images chronicling the plight of Afghan SIV’s as they struggle in the U.S., facing poverty and violence. Byer’s internationally acclaimed book, Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor, illuminates the stories of people living on the brink of survival, and invites you to put an end to extreme poverty. The book won First Place Documentary Book from the International Photography Awards in 2014. In addition, Byer narrates a documentary about the project that will be released in 2016. Byer founded a non-profit foundation to support the goal of eradicating global poverty by the year 2030 with programs that raise awareness and are a call to action. In collaboration with the digital studio, A Fourth Act, Byer aims to reinvent how we experience photo exhibitions with the use of a revolutionary mobile technology titled, YouBridge.It. This mobile application enables users to delve deeper into stories and issues behind the pictures, with the goal of creating a forum to motivate change. Utilizing the mobile app, an interactive traveling exhibition with Byer’s powerful photos has been built to reach a wider audience. Together with the mobile app Byer’s work bridges the power of stories that build awareness and turn compassion and empathy into social action. In April and May 2016, the Living on a Dollar a Day exhibit was designated as an official exhibition of the Month of Photography, Los Angeles, and later shown at two venues in Sofia, Bulgaria: at the Global Women Leaders’ Forum, sponsored by the UNESCO Division of Gender Equality and the Council of Women in Business in Bulgaria, and at UniCredit Bulbank. At Western Kentucky University in 2017 it was featured on CBS Sunday Morning. Byer gives back to photojournalism and the international community each year through public lectures and photojournalism workshops. A charismatic teacher and speaker, Byer stirs audiences to see how unbiased photojournalism can raise awareness and affect change. Her compelling TEDx Tokyo talk, “The Storytelling Power of Photography,” received a standing ovation and can be viewed online. Valued for her critical insight, she has served for ten years as a judge for the prestigious Days Japan International Photojournalism Awards. This year Byer was invited to join a UNESCO Who’s Who of Women Speakers. Byer is one of a core group of 70 women chosen to mark the 70th anniversary of UNESCO. Byer’s photographs have appeared in publications and exhibitions throughout the world, including Paris Match, National Geographic, Time, and Newsweek, and notably at Visa Pour L’Image Festival of the Photograph 2014 and 2017, in Perpignan, France. Photographs from Byer’s book were selected for a stunning display at The 2014 Tech Awards gala in San Jose, CA. An interactive video interview with Byer that shows her Pulitzer Prize-winning images is on permanent exhibit in the Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Byer’s work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group shows, including at Viewpoint Photographic Art Center, LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph, Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, Palm Beach Photographic Center, Annenberg Space for Photography, Hartmann Center Gallery, Exposure Gallery, Chiang Mai Festival of Photography, Photokina, Days Japan International Exhibit and Angkor Wat Photography Festival. As a Senior Photojournalist for the storied Sacramento Bee, Byer’s images are syndicated worldwide through Tribune News Service, AP, Getty and ZUMA Press. Her career has led her to multimedia projects, personal book projects and photography exhibitions. Renée C. Byer graduated cum laude from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. Follow her on twitter https://twitter.com/reneecbyer on facebook https://www.facebook.com/renee.byer.77 on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reneecbyer/

Follow this link to apply: https://application.mountainworkshops.org/


July 26, 2018

From: Western Kentucky University Photojournalism


The Mountain Workshops, now in their 43rd year, is an internationally recognized collection of simultaneous Photojournalism, Video Storytelling, Picture Editing workshops. The workshops will be held October 23-27, 2018. In addition to our existing workshops, we are offering a newly created Digital Storytelling workshop. This new master’s class workshop will give like-minded professionals who have skills in photo, print design, video-storytelling, time-lapse, writing and data visualization a perfect opportunity to produce a single, collaborative project.

Unlike our other courses where participants are guided by a single coach and work as individuals, this workshop is built around collaborative cooperation. Each participant in the Digital Storytelling Workshop will play to their strengths, but be closely engaged with their team and multiple coaches. Together they will build a story on a selected topic.

In what started as a class project to document one-room schoolhouses in Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, the Mountain now hosts roughly 100 visual storytellers each year as they explore a different Kentucky community. The Digital Storytelling Workshop is a perfect opportunity to learn from industry-leading storytellers and innovators in the historic context of the workshops.

Participants typically have journalistic training and come from a variety of journalism schools and professions, but it is not limited to those in the newsgathering business. Attendees come from various storytelling backgrounds and sometimes come back to the workshop several times. “As a working professional wedding photographer with a journalism background, Mountain Workshops has reminded me why I got into this business - storytelling,” said Jennifer Tai, a wedding photographer based in Washington state. “It’s also added a layer to my wedding work, … a kind of meaningful documentary storytelling that photojournalism can bring to the table. This business has changed tremendously in the last 25 years and continues to do so, and Mountain Workshops with its multi-layer panel of mentors and coaches, has enabled me to think deeply and broadly about where I can go with my photography, not just professionally but personally as well. I’m a workshop junkie and have attended plenty in the last decade. I am sad to miss Mountain Workshops this year because of work, but cannot wait to apply again in 2019 and be with my Mountain Workshops family again!”

Texas based visual storyteller Michael Cirlos, who attended the 2015 photojournalism workshop, created a project inspired by Humans of New York. Cirlos’ book “Humans of San Antonio” was released this summer with several book signings and showings. “I learned so many valuable storytelling lessons and skills at the Mountain Workshops that I’m using everyday as Staff Photographer and Videographer for Centro San Antonio. Rick Loomis was my coach in 2015, and one of the lessons he taught me was to always challenge your position as you want to be in the best spot possible. Keep in mind of a better shot because it’s usually just around the corner.”

About 160 participants, faculty and staff gathered in Morehead, a community on the border of the Appalachian Mountains, and produced documentary shorts, still images, visual graphics and time-lapse photography that are presented on-site. They will also be featured in a book and a traveling gallery. This year, the neighboring community of Mt. Sterling will host the workshops.

To Apply please visit: https://application.mountainworkshops.org/



 New Coach Alert! 

VIDEO STORYTELLING COACH: Eric Maierson is a freelance writer and two-time Emmy-winning video editor and producer. His work has appeared on The New Times, The New Yorker, and Time.

For 11 years he was the senior producer at MediaStorm, a documentary production company in Brooklyn, New York. There, he worked on close to 100 films, including the feature The Distance Between Us. His work won four Webby Awards, the Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award, and 10 Emmy nominations, including two wins.

As an educator, Eric helped develop and produce MediaStorm’s online training including dozens of blog posts about editing techniques and workflow tips. He has led workshops around the world.

Additionally, Eric developed and produced the Peabody Award–winning television show A Walk in Your Shoes for Nickelodeon and served as head writer for VH1’s hit series Where Are They Now?

His short films have played at film festivals across the country, and his prose has appeared in Playboy, McSweeney’s, and Mountain Man Dance Moves: The McSweeney’s Book of Lists. He is also the writer and director of the critically acclaimed theatrical play Reprise.

Originally from Houston, Eric earned his master’s of fine arts in creative writing at Emerson College, as well as a bachelor’s of science in communications from Ithaca College. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Ellen, and their two dogs, both rascals.

Apply for this workshop today! https://application.mountainworkshops.org/

New Coach Alert!!! 

VIDEO STORYTELLING COACH: Francesca Trianni is an award-winning staff video producer at TIME, with a focus in international news.

Since joining TIME, Francesca has contributed to many of TIME’s most important stories, including features for Person of the Year and Time 100.

Most recently Francesca produced, filmed and reported Finding Home: a year-long multimedia project on the Syrian refugee crisis told through the lives of three babies: Rahaf, Heln, and Faraj. Finding Home won the top prize at the 2018 World Press Photo contest for Innovative Storytelling, a Murrow Award and a POYi award, among others.

A native Italian speaker, Francesca graduated with honors from the Columbia Journalism School in New York.

Apply now! https://application.mountainworkshops.org/

New photojournalism coach alert! Erika Schultz works as a staff photographer for The Seattle Times and as part-time faculty at The University of Washington. In 2017, Pictures of the Year International awarded Schultz an award of excellence for Newspaper Photographer of the Year. Her video work with Corinne Chin won second place for Individual Multimedia Portfolio in NPPA’s 2017 Best of Photojournalism Awards, as well as an honorable mention for Cliff Edom’s “New America Award.” Schultz’s photographic and video storytelling has been recognized by the Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism, National Edward R. Murrow Awards, The Alexia Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, and was a finalist for the 2010 and 2013 ASNE Community Service Photojournalism award. She also was part of The Seattle Times’ 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning team for Breaking News Reporting. She serves on Western Washington Board of the Society of Professional Journalists and is the co-founder of NW Photojournalism.

ATTENTION!!! We have a brandspanking new workshop to tell you about! This is a MASTER class for experienced storytellers who want to up their game. Want to know more? (LINK IN PROFILE) #mtnworkshops

ATTENTION!!! We have a brandspanking new workshop to tell you about! This is a MASTER class for experienced storytellers who want to up their game. Want to know more? (LINK IN PROFILE) #mtnworkshops

ATTENTION!!! We have a brandspanking new workshop to tell you about! This is a MASTER class for experienced storytellers who want to up their game. Want to know more? (LINK IN PROFILE) #mtnworkshops

The countdown continues! We’re two weeks away from accepting applications! #mtnworkshops

The countdown continues! We’re two weeks away from accepting applications! #mtnworkshops

The countdown continues! We’re two weeks away from accepting applications! #mtnworkshops

We’re three weeks away from accepting applications! Hope you’re ready! Also, watch this account for a special announcement about a new workshop! #mtnworkshops

Mount Sterling, here we come! #mtnworkshops

Check out this book that was created for the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea with images from the four students from South Korea who attended the Mountain Workshops in October! (at Western Kentucky University)

Check out Chris Janjic’s story, My Angel Wing. #mtnworkshops (link in profile)

Check out Mhari Shaw’s story about Shawn Thacker. #mtnworkshops (link in profile)