Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Robbie Williams drives home after checking on his leased farmland just outside Hebbardsville. Robbie owns 600 acres of farmland and leases around 5,000 additional acres all over Henderson County. To oversee the land, Robbie does a lot of driving.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Julia Wall

Hal and Bobbie Branson share a morning blessing before breakfast. Hal is a retired minister, and both are very involved in the Spottsville Baptist Church.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Maddie Meyer

Kate Smith, 92, reads "People" magazine while she waits for her hair to dry at Kelly's Mane Event. As one of the regulars of the salon, she visits on Friday mornings.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Pinar Istek

Just before dinner, Seth Coomes, center, 10, was riding a RipStik being towed by his friend on a bike when he took a tumble. Carlos Krous, left, and Almarrow Talbott, 9, right, help him test out his ankle. "If we're not riding bikes, we're playing Xbox," says Carlos. "We laugh a lot."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jon Hernandez

Kyle Arnett and Jon Hittner, center, host a dinner party in their apartment in downtown Henderson where the main course was venison seasoned with rosemary and wrapped in bacon.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Maddie Meyer

Every morning Peggy Thomas makes breakfast for her 51-year-old son, Paul, right, before keeping him company on their Uniontown porch while he waits for a bus that will take him into Henderson. Her husband, Pat, center, occasionally joins the two. To help him deal with his mental disability and maintain an active social life, Paul takes a class at Henderson Community College and works at a bank and a job center for disabled adults.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolina Hidalgo

Herman Alles, 90, tends to his garden behind the house he shares with his sister Mary Frances, 92. Herman owns Alles Brothers Furniture Co. and still goes to work every day. When not managing his furniture company, Herman spends most of his spare time in his garden. "I just like to go out here and ride around on my chair," he said.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dorothy Edwards

Damien Moore leans back in his chair and disconnects from class during a video presentation. Damien is usually the most talkative kid during class, always full of facts and answering most questions the teacher asks, but every once in a while he will take a break to collect himself.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Connor Choate

Robbie Williams, from left, Steve Frank and David McLevain chat in the Hebbardsville Store, owned by Jerry Knott. The store is also known as Bryant's Grocery and Carter's Dry Goods & General Store. Robbie doesn't visit the country store every day and doesn't hunt deer. But when he arrives, he finds the same friends there at breakfast.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Julia Wall

Ruby Jewell Yates has lived in Henderson all 93 years of her life. Ruby moved to the downtown area after her husband, a farmer, passed away. She said she now fills her days by sitting on her front swing and having her children and grandchildren visit her. "I've got so many (grandchildren)," Ruby says. "I couldn't even tell you how many."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carter McCall

The final step in the Santiago Salpo family's morning routine involves a minute of relaxation before they start the day. Vicente and Mirka enjoy their video games and mother, Adelino, watches a Spanish-language news station.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katherine McLean

Vicente Salpo, 46, works as many hours as he can to support his family. This often means the limited time he gets with his family comes when he is already exhausted.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Katherine McLean

Mac's Barber Shop, a mainstay in the East End neighborhood, is home to two barbers, longtime patrons and daily laughs.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mika Chance

Henderson's super fan, Rick "Poncho" Lambert, an accomplished painter, almost always gives away his work.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jon Hernandez

After throwing a 30-minute tantrum, Caiden Williams, finally calms down when Constance Brooks lays down with him in her bed. "It's not easy. It doesn't get easier. You never just get used to it," Constance says.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Stephen Remich

Bobbie Branson joins her husband, Hal, with Lady, a foster dog. Three of Lady's puppies stay close to their mother.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Maddie Meyer

The work of Rose Wheeler, right, as religion educator at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in downtown Henderson melds her personal and professional life.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carter McCall

Ernie "Deacon" Lingerfelt performs an "anointing of the oils" on Ro Woodley during a church service. "I've been suffering. I've been angry," said Ro, whose son is facing a possible 50-year sentence for committing a violent crime. "I know God is good, but He has put me through so much and I said some horrible things. I'm so sorry for saying those things."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ian Maule

Workshops photo participant Pinar Istek, a second-year graduate student at the Missouri School of Journalism, works on a scenic picture in rural Henderson County. Pinar, who is from Turkey, says she used to be a city girl, but now enjoys the countryside.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Nina Greipel

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Coming to the Mountain: Educating the next generation of storytellers

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Coming to the Mountain: Educating the next generation of storytellers

by Rick Loomis, Los Angeles Times

Kentucky calls me home every year.  The funny thing is that I’m not from there.  But every year for the last 10 years, I still go. In theory I go there to teach, but in reality I go there to recharge.  The Mountain Workshop is the place and my role is that of a photo coach.

I go because as a young photojournalism student at Western Kentucky University I attended the same workshop not once, but twice.  My profound experiences during those times opened my eyes way beyond just improved photographic techniques.  I learned about drive. I learned about work ethic. I learned about heart.  This year I returned once again to try to pass this on as it had once been passed on to me.

The workshop is a unique learning environment for photography students as well as experienced pros.  For 37 years, the Mountain Workshop has been held in a different, small Kentucky town.  This year it was in Henderson, Ky., a scenic town along a bend in the Ohio River that was exploding with full fall colors.

Fifty-three students — some shooting video and some shooting still images — descended on the town for an intense week of honing their craft. A dedicated team of professional educators, writers, editors and photographers — all unpaid and doing it for the right reasons – came from all over the country to make certain the students got what they came for.

The week begins with the famed hat draw where each student makes a mad dash to draw a pre-researched story idea from a hat.  This piece of paper, with merely a sentence or two on it, will be their focus for the entire week.

Students are divided among the coaches and I am assigned six of them. My goal is to prepare these future storytellers, encouraging them to sharpen their skills, to be ethical and to pursue the important stories with a tenacious zeal.  I urge them to be curious, to shoot with their minds and their hearts.  I push them to push themselves – to get out of their own comfort zones.

They worked hard. Typically, we were the last group there each night intently discussing tactics, techniques and strategies until 2 or 3 in the morning as we poured through the days take of images.  And each morning, they all dutifully got out of bed after just a few hours of sleep to make use of the first light, that golden hour, to photograph their story subjects.

Meanwhile, my wife, Liz O. Baylen, also a photojournalist with the Los Angeles Times (yes, it runs in the family) was in a separate wing of the operation working with multimedia students.  Some days she would make my 2 a.m. departure from “work” look insignificant as she spent the entire night up working with students to make certain that their projects would come to fruition.

“It’s an extremely intense week.  We start off going over the art of video storytelling in a classroom environment, then we expect them to go out in the field and put these practices into effect,” Baylen said.  “It’s a lot to absorb in a short amount of time, and it’s exhilarating to see what they are able to accomplish and how much they grow from Day One to Day Five.”

At times it’s frustrating, trying to drill home basic skills that should be part of the muscle memory of a young photojournalist.  But sometimes you can see the magic happen right in front of you.  The light bulb switches on, and they just come alive, get past the gear, and get to the story.

“The character or subject and the story they tell is always our first priority,” says Tim Broekema, a professor at Western Kentucky University who has played a major role in 28 workshops.  “With so much new technology, video, audio, fancy cameras – the heart of the story has always remained our primary objective.”

In the end, all of the effort by the staff and the students proves worthwhile on the final night.  It’s time for the work of Broekema to shine, for he’s been hard-charging all week to put on one final presentation that showcases the work that was generated during the week.

Broekema chose student Benjamin Brayfield’s video piece about an elderly couple that just got married to close the evening.  Brayfield, an up and coming photojournalist had just started a new job at the Rapid City Journal in South Dakota before coming to the workshop.

“I came hoping to gain clarity when identifying a narrative and intent while reporting the story,” said Brayfield after the week was over and he was back to work. He added that the workshop “refined my vision to work efficiently and push to find the deeper, emotional layer to a story. Future projects will be fueled with purpose, subtly reassuring viewers that they aren’t wasting their time pressing play.”

The week, when it closes, is always as sad for me as it is energizing. And the work generated is never anything short of amazing. The final show is just part of what is produced during the week.  There is also a 50-image gallery that returns to the town and hangs somewhere for its residents to see.  Then there is the website, www.mountainworkshops.org , a living, breathing historic record of small-town Kentucky. There is the book, with stories and images designed onto pages and ready to be sent to the printer before the workshop closes.  It’s a beautiful document, one that is often used to help persuade the next small town we want to visit to welcome us with open arms, ready to have their stories told.

As for me, I’ll be back next year, ready to drink from the well once again. In the meantime, I’ll keep my eye on those new faces I met as some of them end up being our interns here at the Los Angeles Times. And I get to see my wife again, unless one or the other of us is busy practicing what we preach.

Samples of the students’ work are in the above gallery as well as Benjamin Brayfield’s video piece.  More work from this and past workshops can be found at www.mountainworkshops.org

Photos: (Top) The madness begins! Students randomly draw their stories from a hat. In one hat are still-photography stories and in the other are multimedia stories. This year, 37 shooting and 16 multimedia participants signed up for the workshops. (Bottom) Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist William Snyder, a native of Henderson, and writing coach Tom Eblen, far right, go over key pointers on the first day.  Eblen is a columnist at the Lexington Herald-Leader and long-time workshop staffer, and Snyder is chair of the photojournalism program at Rochester Institute of Technology. Credit: Nina Greipel

2 Comments

  1. November 1, 2012, 4:24 pm

    The people who run the Mountain Workshop are really good people and it is a great thing.

    By: planethendrix
  2. November 3, 2012, 7:21 pm

    Right on target, Rick! There is really nothing quite like the magic on the Mountain.

    By: james gregg

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