|Senior works with best photojournalists in the country
RELEASED: Oct. 28, 2004
DANVILLE, KYLast week senior Meg Fenton traded her textbooks and classroom desk for a camera and a bar stool.
Fenton, who aspires to be a photographer for National Geographic, attended the 29th annual Mountain Workshops held in Lebanon, Ky. The double major in French and anthropology/sociology from Louisville, Ky., was one of 55 photojournalism workshop participants from around the country who trekked through the small town in search of picture stories. (Go to http://www.mountainworkshops.org/.)
Each year dozens of nationally and internationally recognized professional visual journalists from around the country come to Kentucky to volunteer their time and provide a hands-on learning experience in documentary-style photojournalism. Participants in the workshop shoot picture stories about selected individuals from the community and receive intensive critiques from award-winning journalists from the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Rocky Mountain News, The Oregonian, the Orlando-Sentinel and the Courier-Journal.
Fenton received instruction from Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Barry Gutierrez from the Rocky Mountain News and writing critiques from Lynne Warren of National Geographic.
"Barry was awesome," Fenton says. "Because I came in an underdog as far as experience and formal training, I really lucked out in having Barry as a coach. He's laid back and patient. When there are 28 things you need to fix and only have time for five of them, it's really nice to have someone who appreciates your effort."
Fenton's photo story was on a father-and-son team who own and operate Hawk's Place, a restaurant and bar in Loretto, Ky. Fenton spent 11 to 12 hours a day with the pair documenting their daily activities and interaction with patrons.
"Meg's carefree spirit and positive attitude gave her a good opportunity to learn something at the Mountain Workshops this year," Gutierrez says. "It's the kind of experience that only works if the participants have a good attitude and leave their egos at the doorand Meg did both."
Fenton says she has a better sense of what to look for and how to incorporate compositional elements when making a picture.
"Capturing moments was the main thing I was missing," she says.
She also had the opportunity receive feedback on her portfolio from Centre graduate Tom Hardin '63. Hardin is the former director of photography at the Courier-Journal and the Detroit News.
"It was wonderful to have someone give you an honest opinion and to want to help you grow," Fenton says. "I think that criticism was one of the most beneficial things that happened in the course of the week."
Fenton's week wasn't without trials and problems. The first story she pursued didn't work out, and Fenton had several technical setbacks and some challenges in trying to convey a sense of place.
"There are frustrating parts in it, but that's part of the overall experience," she says. "If you didn't struggle, you didn't learn."
Centre communications staff member Kacie Powell, who has served as an administrator for the Workshops for four years, helped Fenton with the application process.
"It's always exciting to go back every year and see the participants struggle the first few days and then toward the end surprise you with images that take your breath away," Powell says. "Even though Meg isn't a photojournalism major, like most Centre students she was positive and confident, dove headfirst into the program, worked hard to improve and ended up having a great experience."
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