Photo by Nina Greipel

About

Each October, as the leaves begin to turn, the Mountain Workshops of Western Kentucky University visit a different region of Kentucky to document its life and culture in a way that is rarely attempted. Raw and live, it’s all about the people, not the institutions.

It is a documentary of the here and now, and it is created by participants who join the Mountain Workshops for a week of high-octane education in visual communication and storytelling skills, guided by the top professionals in their fields.

We invite you to join us for our latest project: The Mountain Workshops in Berea, Ky., from Oct. 21 to 26. With a coach-to-student ratio of roughly 4 to 1, our participants can expect an intense personal experience with some of the very best talents and teachers in the business. This is not for amateurs. We expect our participants to be good when they get here and great when they leave. Many of them report a life-changing experience.

To join this year’s Mountain Workshops, visit our application website. We also encourage you to check our work on the web. Our last two workshops were in Henderson and Owensboro, two Ohio River towns.

Our Workshops are open for the professional or student alike from around the country or the globe. Some courses require a portfolio review and a certain level of visual fortitude while other courses require a keen interest in improving your story-telling skills.

This year, we are offering workshops in five disciplines:

Photojournalism: Our core discipline, which influences everything we do, focuses on still photography, factual reporting and writing, as participants learn how to “discover” a story, explore character and relationships while revealing a sense of place and the pride of a shared heritage. A small portfolio of your work and resumé is required to be considered for application. This course starts at noon, EDT, Oct 21.

Picture Editing: What may seem like a lost art in these days of websites and multimedia, editing is key to effective publishing on paper and on the web. Understanding how presentation works in storytelling – design, visual content, cropping, size, flow of images, news judgment and ethics – is essential to create interest and keep readers coming back. News organizations are begging for these skills. Workshop faculty draws on design sensibilities and decision-making in weaving photographs and text into meaningful narratives. Participants also work collaboratively to publish a book on the community. No portfolio is required. This course starts at noon, EDT, Oct 21.

Video Storytelling: A skill and software-intensive workshop challenges participants to record sound, shoot video and study narrative arc. Participants use state-of-the-art equipment and software to create narrative video. The result can be stunning. A small portfolio of your work representing a basic knowledge in software competency and resumé is required to be considered for application. This course starts at 9:00 am, EDT, Oct 21.

Time-Lapse Photography: Introduced last year, this workshop teaches participants how to use evolving technology in digital cameras and equipment to drive the narrative of visual storytelling. Participants learn techniques in motion and static time-lapse technology and discover ways to effectively incorporate these skills into their work. A small portfolio that indicates your ability to understand basic in-camera exposure and DSLR work is required to be considered for application. This course starts at 9:00 am, EDT, Oct 21.

Data Visualization: New in 2014, this five-day program will highlight the latest techniques in converting data into visual formats that are attractive and easily assimilated by the audience. New techniques and software make it increasingly accessible to storytellers who want to reveal complex issues through creative and interactive presentation of data. No portfolio is required. This course starts at noon, EDT, Oct 21.

On July 1, 2014 the application process will open. Sign up quickly and lock in a spot at the 2014 Mountain Workshops.

Frequently Asked Questions





QUESTION

Can I attend any of these workshops even though I am not a student?

ANSWER

Yes, the workshop is open to anyone who wants to improve their storytelling abilities. We have had participants from major newspapers and magazines as well as freelance visual story tellers who run their own business and see the workshops as a way to give them an edge over the competition.


QUESTION

If I am a student but not at Western Kentucky University can I attend any of the workshops?

ANSWER

Yes. In fact, almost half of our college age enrollment comes from universities other than Western Kentucky.


QUESTION

What do tuition fees for each workshop cover?

ANSWER

Tuition covers educational costs only. You will need to pay for your hotel, travel and food costs during your stay.


QUESTION

Do I need to bring a laptop?

ANSWER

The Workshops have a network of computers for participant use. If you are in the video storytelling or picture editing groups you will have a computer set up for you with all the necessary software. If you are in the shooting workshop you will view your work on your coach’s workstation. Participants write photo captions and stories in our writing area, which is provided with a number of shared workstations. All the images from the shooting portion of the 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.


QUESTION

Do I need to bring an external hard drive?

ANSWER

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 500GB of free space for video storytelling participants, and 50GB for the shooting workshop.


QUESTION

Do participants need to provide their own equipment?

ANSWER

We expect participants to have their own still camera bodies, lenses and flashes. For many years Nikon and Canon representatives have been at the Workshops with a wide range of loaner gear for still shooters, but nothing is guaranteed. Canon and Nikon provide DSLR bodies for those in the video storytelling workshop who need them. A limited amount of audio gear is provided by our Sennheiser sponsors, and Manfrotto supplies a limited number of tripods for participant use. Every year the Workshops depend on sponsor support, for which we are deeply grateful. However, we encourage all participants to bring as much of their own equipment as possible.


QUESTION

Do I need a car?

ANSWER

Yes. Covering your story and shooting features will require that you’re able to travel to different locations in the county throughout the week.


QUESTION

Who will the coaches be?

ANSWER

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 (http://www.mountainworkshops.org/apply) and also on our Facebook page.


QUESTION

Do I get to pick my coach?

ANSWER

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.


QUESTION

Do I have to find my own story?

ANSWER

No. We have story researchers scouring the county well in advance of the workshop.


QUESTION

How are stories assigned?

ANSWER

Names, descriptions, and contact information for story subjects are piled in a hat, and each participant randomly draws an assignment at the opening of the workshops. (Be sure to watch our “About” video.) 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 of the Workshops come together to help you find a compelling way to tell that story.