Do you think your images lack that “special something?” After all, you understand exposure, composition is a skill that is becoming second nature, and light is something you see and use whenever you can. Yet your images still do not stand out. This is where we come in. With a coach-to-student ratio of approximately 1:6, the Photojournalism Workshop can bring you to a new level of story telling, one you never thought you could reach. You will get closer to your subject than you could ever imagine, get up early and stay out late, get down in the mud with the subject, and ultimately climb into his or her heart.
Mountain is all about building relationships and using meaningful photographs to tell a story. If you want to be a photojournalist, 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 and editing, each evening includes inspiring presentations by the coaches, as well as critiques of a selection of images taken that day. If you find any down time it will be spent soaking up the knowledge of your passionate coaches and maybe sleeping a little bit.
"There is a spirit here that lifts people up and pushes them toward successes in their photography that they might not have achieved on their own." "
Rick Loomis, Independent Photojournalist | Photojournalism 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 five 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.
Three 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.
Kathleen Flynn is a New Orleans based photojournalist and documentary filmmaker, who focuses on stories of struggle and injustice. Flynn has spent nearly 20 years as a working journalist, including a decade at the Tampa Bay Times and three years at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune. She has covered in-depth community news, veteran’s issues throughout the country, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Thailand, immigration in Mexico, post-conflict Liberia, India’s booming pharmaceutical industry, and the war in Afghanistan.
Her work has been recognized with six regional Emmys, honors from the Overseas Press Club, World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International, the Edward R. Murrow awards, the Nieman Foundation, the National Press Photographers Association's Best of Photojournalism, and with a Casey Medal, which was awarded for the nation's best reporting on children, youth and families. In 2019 the National Press Photographers Association awarded their Humanitarian Award to Flynn, for her career covering human rights issues and injustices. She is a member of Women Photograph.
Scott Strazzante has been a San Francisco staff photographer since 2014 after spending the previous 13 years at the Chicago Tribune. Strazzante is a former POYi National Newspaper Photographer of the Year, 11-time Illinois Photographer of the Year and part of a Chicago Tribune team that was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting. Strazzante has published two books- Common Ground, a 27-year documentation of a piece of suburban Chicago farmland that became a subdivision, and Shooting from the Hip, a collection of black and white iPhone images from around the USA.
Daniella Zalcman is a Vietnamese-American documentary photographer based in New Orleans, LA. She is a 2021 Catchlight Fellow, a multiple grantee of the National Geographic Society and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a fellow with the International Women's Media Foundation, and the founder of Women Photograph, a nonprofit working to elevate the voices of women and nonbinary visual journalists.
Her work tends to focus on the legacies of western colonization, from the rise of homophobia in East Africa to the forced assimilation education of Indigenous children in North America. Her ongoing project, Signs of Your Identity, is the recipient of the Arnold Newman Prize, a Robert F Kennedy Journalism Award, the FotoEvidence Book Award, the Magnum Foundation's Inge Morath Award, and part of Open Society Foundation's Moving Walls 24. You can find her work in National Geographic Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, BuzzFeed, TIME, The New York Times, and elsewhere.
Daniella is a proud member of the Authority Collective and Diversify Photo, a co-founder of Indigenous Photograph, a co-founder and creative director of We, Women, and a co-author of the Photo Bill of Rights.
Daniella regularly lectures at high schools and universities, and was a visiting professor at Wake Forest University from 2018-2020 and the 2022 T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor at the University of Montana. She is a member of the board of trustees of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, the board of directors of the ACOS Alliance, and the board of governors of the Overseas Press Club. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in architecture in 2009.
Jack Gruber is a staff photographer at USA TODAY and the founder and executive director of Boyd's Station - a Kentucky nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization - which seeks to provide varied visual journalists and artists an environment to “live free and create” through programs to pursue the artist’s individual craft without distractions in a supportive community of like artists in Harrison County, Kentucky.
Gruber launched the Boyd's Station 306.36 Visual Documentary Archive in 2018, an annual project documenting Harrison County, Kentucky. This project awards student journalists the Reinke Grants for Visual Storytelling and the Mary Withers Rural Writing Fellowship.
Continuing in the documentary tradition of the Farm Security Administration Pictorial Project recording of American life between 1935 and 1944, the 306.36 Visual Documentary Project and collection of images taken by photographers over the course of many years will become an important historical record of the people and places inside the 310 square miles of Harrison County.
A graduate of 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 before moving to USA TODAY's headquarters in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C.
Melissa Lyttle is an independent visual journalist based in Washington, DC. As a native Floridian, she earned a journalism degree from the University of Florida and worked at Florida newspapers for nearly 15 years before going freelance. In 2021, she was honored to receive the W. Eugene Smith Grant Fund, the National Press Photographer’s Foundation’s Alan Hagman Grant, and a Pulitzer Center for Reporting grant for her work on the dismantling of Confederate monuments across the U.S. in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Over the years her work has been recognized by Pictures of the Year International, NPPA's Best of Photojournalism, the Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism, the Alexia Foundation and others. She also won an Emmy for a short film on a high school football player trying to make it out of a small Florida Everglades town.
Lyttle is the founder of APhotoADay and GeekFest, a member of Women Photograph, a two-time International Women's Media Foundation US-Mexico border reporting fellow and grant recipient, and she was an Eddie Adams Workshop faculty member for over a decade. She also served on the board of the National Press Photographers Association for seven years — including two as president.
Tom Eblen is a writer, editor and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky. He was metro/state columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader from 2008 to 2019 and the newspaper’s managing editor from 1998-2008. He now works part-time for the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, creating projects to promote the literary arts and managing the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.
Eblen, 64, returned to his hometown in 1998 after 14 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he was a regional and national writer and a business reporter and editor. Before that, he worked for The Associated Press in Louisville, Nashville and as correspondent in charge of the Knoxville bureau. He has won many awards, including the 2013 media award in the Kentucky Governor’s Awards in the Arts. He was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame in 2016.
Eblen has written chapters for two books about Kentucky history and edited several books. His photographs have appeared in newspapers across the country, as well as in books and magazines, including Newsweek and Garden & Gun.
He is a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a former president of the Bluegrass Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
He formerly served on the national board of Associated Press Media Editors. Eblen taught journalism ethics at the University of Kentucky for four years and has been on the faculty of The Mountain Workshops since 1995. He leads the team of writing coaches.
Liz Hansen will be a MWS photojournalism writing coach for the eighth time in Leitchfield. She is the retired chair of the Department of Communication and Foundation Professor Emerita at Eastern Kentucky University where she taught journalism from 1987 to 2014. Before going to Eastern, she taught at Iowa State University, the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Kentucky.
Hansen has worked as a reporter and feature writer for daily newspapers in Arkansas and Louisiana and as a freelance writer, frequently taking her own photographs. She has won numerous awards for writing, editing and photography and is a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. She and her husband, Gary, operate Two Profs Photography as a hobby and are active members of the Lexington Camera Club.
At Eastern, Hansen conducted 14 semester-long community journalism projects with students. In addition to community journalism, her research interests included media ethics and libel. She is former head of the Community Journalism Interest Group of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and chairs the Steering Committee of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues. She has served on the national board and the ethics committee of the Society of Professional Journalists and is past president of the Bluegrass Pro chapter.
Hansen received a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Kentucky (2000), a master’s degree from Iowa State University (1976), and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas (1972).
Ron Mitchell began his journalism career in 1971 at The Kentucky Kernel, daily newspaper at the University of Kentucky that was then the third-largest daily circulation paper in Kentucky. Was police/higher education reporter at Daily News in Bowling Green Ky. for two years before transitioning into specializing in Thoroughbred horse racing/breeding/sales as a writer/editor from 1985 - retirement in 2021, last 29 years at BloodHorse magazine. Developed and was first online editor for Bloodhorse.com 1995-2015, the first Thoroughbred industry website. Began weekly podcasts in 2000 before there was a term for the concept.
Beth Feagan teaches General Studies at Berea College. This is her sixth year serving as a Writing Coach at the Mountain Workshops Project. Gardening, meditating, doing yoga, and writing haiku help her breathe her way through this life.
John A. Nelson is the recently retired editorial director for Landmark Community Newspapers, now a part of the Paxton Media Group. Formerly based in Shelbyville, Ky., Landmark at one time owned 51 publications in 12 states — 19 in Kentucky.
Nelson served in that capacity from 2016-2021. For 19 years prior, he served as managing editor of The Advocate-Messenger in Danville, one of four Central Kentucky newspapers owned by Schurz Communications Inc. of South Bend, Ind. He supervised day-to-day newsroom operations in Danville and and provided administrative support to editors of The Winchester Sun, The Jessamine Journal in Nicholasville and The Interior Journal in Stanford. Nelson was the editor of two weeklies before joining The Advocate in 1997. From 1987-97, he was editor and co-owner of Pulaski Week in Somerset.
He was president of the Kentucky Press Association in 2004, and served two terms as president of the Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2006-07. He remains a member of its board of directors.
Nelson was presented the Bingham Freedom of Information Award in 2004 by The Courier-Journal, and the James Madison Award for Service to the First Amendment in 2010 by the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center at the University of Kentucky. In 2013, the university named him to the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame and later that same year he was presented the Al Smith Award for Public Service through Community Journalism by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and Bluegrass SPJ.
Kim Parson is a consumer experience professional and health care industry consultant. Using human-centered design and experiential learning techniques, she facilitates ideation workshops and futuring sessions to stimulate innovative thinking. This results in insights that fuel strategy development and create experiences that balance the demands and complexities of health systems with the skills and abilities of healthcare consumers. Previously Kim was a journalist with Knight Ridder at The Lexington Herald-Leader, Gannett at The Courier-Journal and Tribune Co. at The Orlando Sentinel, where she led designers, copy editors, graphic artists, news editors and reporters in collaborative storytelling of the news of the day and investigative projects. A Society for News Design award winner, she has served as a judge for SND’s international design competition. Her first job after graduation from Western Kentucky University was at the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer. She has a B.A. in Journalism, a B.A. in English, and completed coursework in WKU’s Master’s program in Communications Management.
You are required to provide your own lodging and dinning arrangements during the Workshops. Because of the remote location of the Mountain, there is limited housing options available, so we recommend that you reserve your room as soon as possible.
Our headquarters, Rough River Dam Resort State Park has a limited number of lodges available for workshop participants. To reserve a lodge room, contact the resort directly by calling (270) 257-2311 and indicate that you are a PARTICIPANT for the 2022 Mountain. You cannot book these rooms online; the resort has blocked off the entire resort for our use. (If you try to book online it will only indicate the resort is sold out, phone reservations only)
If you are into rustic camping, the Rough River Dam Resort State Park is offering tent-camping opportunities along their airport runway for $10 a night. You will be able to make use of the pilot’s lounge and shower facilities.
On Highway 79 near the State Park entrance is St. Clair Motor Lodge, a recently remodeled hotel.
In Leitchfield, about 18 miles from our headquarters, the Hatfield Inn has approximately 30 rooms.
Once you have been accepted AND paid to attend the workshop of your choosing, you will be invited by your registration email to join a PRIVATE Facebook group for all the 2022 participants. It is in this social space that many of our workshop attendees coordinate hotel and optional transportation arrangements.
This area of the state is a popular destination location. This time of year attracts a large amount of hunting and fishing enthusiasts and rooms can sellout quickly. It is important that you reserve your room as soon as possible (we suggest as early as July) to guarantee you have housing close to our headquarters. We do not offer refunds due to lack of nearby available housing.
The nearest airports are Louisville (SDF), a 74-mile drive or Nashville (BNA), a 127-mile drive. We have noticed drastically different rates depending on where you are coming from, so be sure to shop around for the best deals.
You will need to have a vehicle for the workshop and there are car rental places at the airports.
If you are in the Picture Editing workshop you may be able to share a car rental with others in that workshop to commute from nearby hotels, restaurants, and ground transportation from the airport to the headquarters and back. The participants in the picture editing do not travel for their assignments but will need to provide their own transportation for all other activities. If you are in Picture Editing and you book a room at the resort, you will not need transportation during the week, everything is within walking distance.
Keep in mind that the video and photo storytelling workshops will require working at various locations each day and it is mandatory to have your own car during the week.
The headquarter location at The Lodge at Rough River has a dining hall, Grayson Landing, and will be offering buffet style as well as menu options for all our participants at their published rates. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
There are several other local locations for dining while attending the Mountain.
Lake House Restaurant
14033 Falls of Rough Road
Falls of Rough, Ky.
Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
406 S. Highway 79
Hot Dog and Soda Shop
Tom & Al’s
8637 S. Highway 259
Rough River Dam Resort State Park
450 Ic-1003, Falls of Rough, KY 40119