Every fall the Mountain Workshops draw a team of dedicated teachers and determined learners to a small Kentucky town, where together they explore the richness of community, the beauty of landscape, and the possibilities and challenges of visual storytelling.
The Photojournalism Workshop focuses on still photography, as coaches and participants explore individual character, the give and take of relationships, the deeply-felt sense of belonging to a place, and the pride of participating in a shared heritage.
The Picture Editing Workshop draws on the design sensibilities and electronic publishing expertise of its coaches to help participants learn to weave photograph s and text together into memorable narratives.
The Multimedia Workshop challenges participants to gather still images, record sound, and shoot video, then use cutting-edge digital and online tools to spin all these threads into stories that captivate.
In 1976, Two Western Kentucky University faculty members took a dozen photojournalism students into eastern Kentucky and Tennessee in 1976 to document the 11 remaining one-room schools there.
The teachers didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the beginning of an annual trek designed to sharpen students’ skills while documenting small towns in Kentucky. Over time the effort morphed into the Mountain Workshops — three concurrent workshops that fine-tune photography, picture-editing and multimedia skills of college students and mid-career professionals in an intensive weeklong effort that documents a town and its surrounding countryside.
WKU faculty members are joined by volunteer shooting, editing and writing coaches who travel here from across the country — from The New York Times, from the Los Angeles Times, from National Geographic and a host of other venues — to guide trainees and produce content for a photo exhibit, several multimedia productions, an extended documentary DVD and a 116-page book.
From their humble beginnings of travel with cameras, black-and-white film, and sleeping bags, workshop staff now spend months planning and setting up sophisticated facilities with state-of-the-art computing and digital imaging equipment.