During Wednesday night’s critique, coach William Snyder scolded his team to “Get your damn gear out of the picture!”
But Nina Greipel might be forgiven if her pictures contain a camera or two—or 10. Nina’s main job this week is to take the pictures of the people taking the pictures. And to take the pictures of the people coaching the people taking the pictures. And to take the pictures of the people editing the pictures gleaned from all of the above. She uses a lot of those pictures for her other main responsibility: keeping the Workshops’ Facebook page fresh.
It’s Nina’s sixth year as the Workshops’ documentarian. The 2004 WKU graduate has twice served as a labbie, and also logged one stint as a shooting participant and another as an editing participant.
She admits the first few years as the Workshops’ photographer were intimidating. “I was a little under pressure because I was surrounded by so many talented photographers—way more talented than me,” says the 37-year-old from Louisville. “But in the end, I learned to forget about it and do my job, just have fun with it.”
Over the years, she’s figured out the rhythm of the week—what to shoot when, where to be to catch the pinnacle moments. Come day three, for instance, she’s usually getting up before dawn to accompany a shooting participant trying to catch the special early morning light. By Friday and Saturday, she says, “it’s just cranking.”
This Thursday was typical. After ducking in and out of the Henderson Community College Fine Arts Center all day, she hunted for features during the “golden hour” before the sun sets, grabbed a quick bite, then made the rounds. Her first stop was the dark cave that is the online lab. She consulted with editor Jonathan Woods about an upcoming blog post, and stepped back to fire a few frames when James Gregg came by to chat.
Her next stop was the multimedia lab. There, she dropped to her knees to get a good angle on participant Russell Scalf, who was sandwiched between coaches Liz Baylen and Lynne Warren, who were helping him figure out the best edit of an interview they were screening in Adobe Premiere Pro.
Finally, Nina circled back to the main stage to document the evening’s program. She straddled a chair to shoot the Nikon rep. And as each presenter took their turn, she shot over their shoulders, in their faces, circling them like prey.
Shooting each year’s Workshops, she says, gives her the journalistic juice she needs to fuel her freelance business. And when she gets back to being a pastry chef at her parents’ German restaurant, she’s excited to share with her own family what she got from “hanging out with my journalism family.”
“It re-inspires me. It gets me back in the game. It keeps my shooting fresh, keeps my skills fresh,” she says. “It brings back memories from back in the day when I was a student. You’re nervous. You’re tired. You’re exhausted. You also want to learn. You get that amazing lesson that hits you in the middle of the week. You come out of here thinking your life has just changed dramatically—that’s Mountain Workshops.”