Mountain Workshops gallery opens in Mass Media

(Above: One of the photos displayed in the gallery)Charlie Long moved to Frankfort with his wife when he was 20 and went to school to be a barber. After 50 years, he still works in the same barber shop in the Eastwood Shopping Center in Frankfort, Kentucky. Matt Lunsford/HERALD

Kalee Chism

Every year, students and professional photojournalists flock to a city in Kentucky for the Mountain Workshops.

The Mountain Workshops is a seminar and workshop series to help students learn the power of collaboration and storytelling. This year, the workshops travelled to Frankfort. Their work is now hung in the photo gallery of Mass Media and Technology Hall.

The workshop takes students from WKU and other universities together with 140 professionals to learn from each other and collaborate together.

“The very first day the participants arrive, there’s a big hat with all the story ideas that they’ve researched in it,” Lauren Nolan, a senior photojournalism major from Union said. “We all rush to the hat, and we pick one, and that’s our story. And it usually doesn’t have a full story on it — just a name and a description.”

The workshop provides a space for participants to collaborate, learn and critique while taking photos and learning about the city and its people.

Nolan said her favorite part of the workshop is the energetic atmosphere that comes from the time limit of four days to complete a story. She said the coaches for the workshop were amazing, encouraging and above all, constructively critical of the photojournalists’ work.

“By the end of the workshop, I am so motivated to keep working on whatever project I’m working on and not become unfocused,” she said. “It’s a good way to get started in a professional setting on getting feedback on your work and taking it well.”

Tyler Sanders, a sophomore photojournalism major from Owensboro and gallery manager at the workshop, said his favorite part of Mountain Workshops is understanding the full power of collaboration as people constantly receive help from and bounce ideas off one another.

Sanders became gallery manager to become more involved in his passion for photography.

“I’ve always just been interested in all the different aspects of photography: not just taking the photos but editing them and collaboration and even printing them out and hanging them,” he said. “I wanted to get involved with that.”

The workshop creates a traveling gallery of 50 images in addition to the exhibit in Mass Media.

Tim Broekema, professor, workshop producer and chairman of the gallery committee, said the gallery is unique in its ability to showcase journalistic photos.

“It’s a journalist gallery. It’s driven on what images exist in a journalism world,” said Broekema. “I appreciate … being able to have a home for that.”

Brokema said the gallery is about Frankfort and titled “The Land Between” because of the city’s placement in Kentucky.

“We really felt how the people of Frankfort feel.” he said. “They’re stuck between two big cities, halfway between Louisville and Lexington. They are between, but they’re their own. They’re independent. They’re fierce. They are proud of their family heritage [and] their connections with the town.”

Sanders said seeing the gallery come together is the most satisfying part of his job.

“Seeing it up is the best because it’s a lot of labor to get it ready. To see it just hanging … you kind of feel like you’re mothering it in a way,” Sanders said.

Broekema said he hopes people can use the gallery to feel a personal connection and reflect.

“Any gallery show is about personal experience,” Broekema said. “They find a little engagement, or they find something that interests them.”