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Video Storytelling | Morehead, Ky. | Oct. 24-28, 2017

5 Days

of inspiration, learning and visually exploring Kentucky


Early Bird Registration | $950 after Aug. 31, 2017

Jul 1

Registration Opens

MOREHEAD, KENTUCKY   |   OCTOBER 24-28   |   2017


Are your video productions stuck in a rut? After all your hard work and days of production, do your stories seem flat, lifeless and lack meaning? If you are comfortable with the technology but are looking for the workshop that will help you uncover, capture and edit a compelling narrative arc, then look no further.

With a coach-to-student ratio average of 1:4, the Mountain Workshops Video Storytelling Workshop can teach you how to bring the story back into storytelling. You will establish a close relationship with your subject, get up early and stay out late, stretch yourself creatively beyond your previous limits and ultimately have a career and life-changing experience.

Mountain is all about building relationships and using meaningful moments to tell a story. If you want to reach a new level in your documentary work, your coaches – some of the best visual professionals in the nation – will give you a motivating push in the right direction.

To complement your days and nights of shooting, editing and collaborative production, each evening there are inspiring presentations by the coaches from all forms of visual journalism. Any downtime you may find will be spent soaking up the knowledge of your passionate coaches and maybe catching a little sleep.



"There’s this energy you experience here that you don’t get while working professionally or in school. There’s something different about the Mountain. It’s a total non-stop sprint to the end and you think you’re not going to make it, but you do."

Liz Baylen, The New York Times   |   Video Storytelling 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 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

Our headquarters will be at:

Kentucky Fire Commission State Fire Rescue Training

99 Lake Park Drive

Morehead, KY   40351



TUESDAY, OCTOBER 24   |   all times are EDT


7:30 AM   |   Registration opens

8:00 AM   |   Vendor’s tables open

9:00 AM   |   Video Storytelling Workshop begins

12:00 PM   |   Opening ceremony for all participants, hat draw


Friday, OCTOBER 27   |   all times EDT


6:00 PM   |   Video shooting is complete, production begins


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28   |   all times EDT


4:30 PM   |   Final edit is exported

6:30 PM   |   Closing ceremony starts

12:00 AM   |   End of workshops




Four airports serve the area and are within a two-hour or less drive. Huntington, WV, and Lexington, KY are the closest and Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, Ohio may provide better fares. Lodging is your responsibility, there are several hotels in Morehead to choose from. We strongly urge for you to book your room early becasue the town is small and space is at a premium. We do not have an  "official" hotel.



"This is my second year attending Mountain Workshops. It's this opportunity to be surrounded by all of these incredible people who are driven storytellers. But even more than this is that I am pushed so hard to produce work that is even more extraordinary than I could imagine. Yes, it's hard, yes you get so sleep deprived that you get loopy, but is it worth it? Well, absolutely. I keep coming back for more."

Stephanie V. Strauss, Independent Video Journalist, Chicago, IL, Wren, 2016 Paducah Participant




"I came into this workshop expecting to just practice my video skills and I wound up falling in love with journalism all over again. Stories are such an amazing thing and when you can tell someone, “This story really happened,” it makes it that much more important. The coaches here are so encouraging and push you well past your comfort zone to bring you into the true heart of the story you’re trying to tell. Seeing and feeling that lightbulb go off while you’re surrounded by people that want to see you succeed as much as they want to succeed themselves is something you will only find at a workshop like this. It’s a connection that’s made with your colleagues that leads into a long lasting friendship."

Emilie Milcarek, Flemington, NJ, A Bittersweet Rise, 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


How do I submit my photos, videos and resumé for my application?


You can either put the URL of your work online on the application form, email images or videos (under 8 megs) to mountainshops@wku.edu or mail a hard copy to:

Miranda Pederson
Western Kentucky University
The Mountain Workshops
1906 College Heights Blvd. #11070
Bowling Green, KY 42101-1070


Can I attend any or all of the workshops?


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.


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 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.


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. We welcome graduate students as well.


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 a laptop?


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.


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 250GB of free space for Video storytelling workshop, and 100GB for the Photojournalism workshop.


Do participants need to provide their own equipment?


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.


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. 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.


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 and also on our social media outlets.


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 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.


Can I shoot as much as I want and in any format that I want?


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?

The application process started July 1, 2017 and will continue until all seats for each workshop sells out.


Interested applicants must fill out the online application to start the process to be considered for the 2017 Mountain Workshops. Video Storytelling participants are required to present a portfolio of at least 2 projects that represents an example of your current work. You must be proficient in editing software and basic camera use. Once you are accepted, you will be notified by email and be 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 space.

Apply Now

What you do

Draw a community member’s name from a hat and be encouraged to find “the real story”

Gather video during four days with intensive one-on-one critiques with your coach

Experience the pressure of a well-managed and guided production deadline of your project using Adobe products on a Macintosh platform that is provided for you

Capture beautiful moments by building a personal understanding of your story subject

Learn strategies to build trust with subjects

Develop your personal style

Use personal and public critiques to improve your videography and edit

Put humanity before videography

Construct a narrative arc of your story

Learn how to effectively use audio to convey emotion

Collaborate with visual journalists of different skill set

What you create

A two-to-three-minute short-form video documentary that will be published in the Mountain Workshops website and displayed in the traveling gallery

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 or commercial videographer in need of inspiration or a week away to experience visual immersion to rejuvenate their passion

College students interested in documenting communities and the people who live in them