Mary Ann O'Bryan's granddaughter, Alexis Jones, 4, shares a secret while they read stories in the children's section of the Daviess County Public Library.
Mary Ann O'Bryan's granddaughter, Alexis Jones, 4, shares a secret while they read stories in the children's section of the Daviess County Public Library. Photo by Katie Meek

Reelin’ in the years at MWS

Things get a little fuzzy when longtime leaders and participants reflect on 37 years of Mountain Workshops: from film, to digital, to multimedia to a mental institution?

Oh, yeah, these things can drive you crazy — in a good way.

Great people, great pictures, great video, great fellowship and great parties to end the experience are all part of the package.

But there is one tiny problem.

What do you do to cap off the 2013 Mountain Workshops, year No. 38?

You brainstorm with a Web-centric editor and grab one of the latest buzzwords in the Internet vernacular: “listicles.”

And so as a (big) footnote to the extensive research and stories revealed by the 2013 Mountain Workshops visual journalists, we give you the best images, courtesy of the good folks of Owensboro, Ky., USA.

image: JD Beach cruises down the tire-worn track in the Gillim family's backyard.  Over the years, the Gillims have expanded the dirt track from an initial oval shape to include serpentine turns and jumps.

JD Beach cruises down the tire-worn track in the Gillim family’s backyard. Over the years, the Gillims have expanded the dirt track from an initial oval shape to include serpentine turns and jumps. (Michael Clark)

image: Owensboro Humane Society, Carmel McLeod started this animal shelter

Tonya Robinson begins her day with a trip into the fields to feed the cows on her farm in Philpot. “That’s why I work, to feed my animals,” Robinson says. (Katie Meek)

image: "These chidren have every right to be angry at the world and rebelious, but they are the swetest, most respectful and obedient children I work with." Sister Wilhelm comments of Augustino Morales' children during a visit to the families home. Some of the families she visits with suffer from issues of such as domestic violence and alcoholism.

“These chidren have every right to be angry at the world and rebelious, but they are the swetest, most respectful and obedient children I work with.” Sister Wilhelm comments of Augustino Morales’ children during a visit to the families home. Some of the families she visits with suffer from issues of such as domestic violence and alcoholism. (Matthew Hatcher)

image: Raines Shoe Hospital in Owensboro, Ky., maintains the same ambiance it did when Don Raines' father opened it in 1939.

Raines Shoe Hospital in Owensboro, Ky., maintains the same ambiance it did when Don Raines’ father opened it in 1939. (Brett Carlsen)

image:

Christon Woods sits at home alone late on a friday night. Woods lives with his grandmother and takes care of her throughout all of her health issues, making sure she takes all of her medicines and is eating regularly. (Katie McLean)

image: Seth Bickett (foreground) and KJ Simpson, both sophomores at Daviess County High School, practice tricks on their bicycles in a parking lot in downtown Owensboro, Ky.

Seth Bickett (foreground) and KJ Simpson, both sophomores at Daviess County High School, practice tricks on their bicycles in a parking lot in downtown Owensboro, Ky. (Kreable Young)

Nikole Gross prays with her husband, Michael, daughter, Lillian, and son, Lonnie, before lunch at their home in Owensboro. (Alicia Savage)

Nikole Gross prays with her husband, Michael, daughter, Lillian, and son, Lonnie, before lunch at their home in Owensboro. (Alicia Savage)

image: A bunkhouse for migrant workers stands empty after problems with the H-2A visa program left Elliott's Farms without migrant workers for the past three years. H-2A visas allow foreign nationals to enter the United States for up to eight months of agricultural work.

A bunkhouse for migrant workers stands empty after problems with the H-2A visa program left Elliott’s Farms without migrant workers for the past three years. H-2A visas allow foreign nationals to enter the United States for up to eight months of agricultural work. (Conor Ralph)

image: Owensboro residents play basketball at Legion Park. They played three-on-three.

Owensboro residents Tyler Conkwright (left), 23, looks for a pass over Orlando Robinson (center right), during a game of three-on-three pickup basketball at Legion Park in Owensboro, Ky. (Nick Gonzales)

image: Daniel petino shelter each day...started in 80s, pastor of cathedral...then working with Rick Petino at UK, named after his Daniel his infant son who died at 3 months old.  For women and children, or families.65 people there now.  Staff is 11 + volunteers 100s.  Lots helping with school work.  Noon meal is for anyone who wants to come 125  ppl evening meal is only for residents...can stay up to two years in transitional housing..prgram is run by a HUD grant and donations...can find family or individual for story subject

Phoenix laughs with her baby doll as she is hugged and kissed by her parents, Shelly and Stephen, before he heads to work early Friday morning. (Al Drago)

image: The Ohio River winds through Owensboro at sunset. Construction on the riverfront aims to revitalize the downtown area.

The Ohio River winds through Owensboro at sunset. Construction on the riverfront aims to revitalize the downtown area. (Brigitte N. Brantley)

Two girls dance to Elliott Sublett and The Came to Play Band at McGrady's Bar in downtown Owensboro, Ky. (Al Drago)

Two girls dance to Elliott Sublett and The Came to Play Band at McGrady’s Bar in downtown Owensboro, Ky. (Al Drago)

image: Helen Kasey has worked the day shift at Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn for more than 19 years. At 61, she is often called "Momma" by co-workers, but underneath that good spirit, Helen is constantly reminded why she works as hard and as much as she does: her husband, Donald Kasey, 61, was diagnosed with leukemia nearly four years ago. "Itís not a burden to take care of him because I am helping him," Helen says. "I take the vows I made to him very seriously."

Helen Kasey has worked the day shift at Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn for more than 19 years. At 61, she is often called “Momma” by co-workers, but underneath that good spirit, Helen is constantly reminded why she works as hard and as much as she does: her husband, Donald Kasey, 61, was diagnosed with leukemia nearly four years ago. “Itís not a burden to take care of him because I am helping him,” Helen says. “I take the vows I made to him very seriously.” (Luke Franke)

image: Heidi Givens serves dinner to her children Jasmine (left), 5, Brooklyn (right), 9, and Maya (far right), 12, in her Owensboro home. Heidi said having the table cleared to serve dinner on is a rare occasion.

Heidi Givens serves dinner to her children Jasmine (left), 5, Brooklyn (right), 9, and Maya (far right), 12, in her Owensboro home. Heidi said having the table cleared to serve dinner on is a rare occasion. (Nick Gonzales)

image: Heidi Givens pulled preschooler Kelsey Gleason, 4, from her class walk down the hall as hey head to a one-on-one tutoring session to her listening skills with background noise is present, at Audubon Elementary in Owensboro. Givens said she aims to help Kelsey understand her teacher while she is accross a noisey classroom. Heidi Givens

Heidi Givens pulled preschooler Kelsey Gleason, 4, from her class for their one-on-one tutoring session at Audubon Elementary in Owensboro, Ky. Givens said she aims to help Kelsey understand her teacher while she is across a noisy classroom. (Nick Gonzales)

Alma Montgomery (left) shares a special relationship with her caregiver, Charlotte Carpenter. Alma was one of Charlotte's first patients, and she considers her a dear friend. (Emily Rhyne)

Alma Montgomery (left) shares a special relationship with her caregiver, Charlotte Carpenter. Alma was one of Charlotte’s first patients, and she considers her a dear friend. (Emily Rhyne)

A driver is being detained near the intersection of W. 5th and Frederica Street after being spotted driving in the wrong direction down a one-way. He was later arrested for driving while intoxicated. (Chandler West)

A driver is being detained near the intersection of W. 5th and Frederica Street after being spotted driving in the wrong direction down a one-way. He was later arrested for driving while intoxicated. (Chandler West)

Spencer Damme, 9, cringes as Steve Cooper cuts his hair with a pair of clippers at Cooper's Barber Shop in downtown Owensboro. Spencer was born with developmental delays and didn't talk until he was almost 4, but now he enjoys talking with Steve. (Isabella Bartolucci)

Spencer Damme, 9, cringes as Steve Cooper cuts his hair with a pair of clippers at Cooper’s Barber Shop in downtown Owensboro. Spencer was born with developmental delays and didn’t talk until he was almost 4, but now he enjoys talking with Steve. (Isabella Bartolucci)

Smokestacks at Owensboro Municipal Utilities create clouds of smoke over the Ohio River. (Emily Kask)

Smokestacks at Owensboro Municipal Utilities create clouds of smoke over the Ohio River. (Emily Kask)

image: Bob Roberts sits by the window of Gary's Drive-In and recollects childhood memories of playing Rook with his father and five sisters. His younger sister Taffy always accused him of cheating. "I wasn't cheating," he said, "I was watching the cards!"

Bob Roberts sits by the window of Gary’s Drive-In and recollects childhood memories of playing Rook with his father and five sisters. His younger sister Taffy always accused him of cheating. “I wasn’t cheating,” he said, “I was watching the cards!” (Rae Emary)

image:
Photo by Josh Meltzer

Stop, drop and roll

You may have seen an eclectic looking batch of shutterbugs scrambling at light speed toward the river at high noon on Saturday.

Do not call the Orkin man. All is well.

Tradition comes in odd forms, and that unsettling display of youthful exuberance is Ripley-esque when it comes to record oddness.

It’s called the “Drop,” and it involves the 2013 Mountain Workshops participants dropping their image-holding devices upon completion of the shooting end of the workshops.

None of those handy plastic bags available at the riverfront for your walks with Fido are necessary.

We clean up our drops.

image: Card drop and group picture

Mountain Workshops Producer and Director Tim Broekema peers through streamers as the cutoff time for participants photographing their stories approaches. (Nina Greipel)

image: Card drop and group picture

Segment producer Carrie Pratt waits for participants as the deadline nears. (Nina Greipel)

image: Card drop and group picture

Photographer Conor Ralph of Ohio University celebrates as the deadline for shooting passes. (Nina Greipel)

The faculty and staff of the 2013 Mountain Workshops (Nina Greipel)
The faculty and staff of the 2013 Mountain Workshops (Nina Greipel)

 

image: Cindy Fulkerson hands Kylie Hardin a .22 Cricket pink rifle at Whittaker Guns in Owensboro. Her father, John Hardin, bought the gun for Kylie's 4th birthday.  John received his first gun when he turned 6.
Cindy Fulkerson hands Kylie Hardin a .22 Cricket pink rifle at Whittaker Guns in Owensboro. Her father, John Hardin, bought the gun for Kylie's 4th birthday. John received his first gun when he turned 6. Photo by Chandler West

Getting under Owensboro’s skin

There comes a point in this visual journalism thing when the scale tips.

Observation shifts to preservation.

Disinterested becomes personal.

Adrenaline wanes and fatigue reigns.

Distance yields to close.

The train is rolling, and you better get on it.

Welcome to Day 4 of 2013 Mountain Workshops.

Good, better and the very best yet to come.

Temporary agricultural worker Pedro Lopez, 20, Chiapas, Mexico, stacks dried tobacco on a Daviess County farm owned by brothers Lynn, Grady and Jerry Ebelhar.

Temporary agricultural worker Pedro Lopez, 20, Chiapas, Mexico, stacks dried tobacco on a Daviess County farm owned by brothers Lynn, Grady and Jerry Ebelhar. (Austin Anthony)

image: Brittany Fulkerson coddles her dog, Mauly, in the Wills Animal Hospital on October 18, 2013. Brittany brought in Mauly because he was in need of a bath.

Brittany Fulkerson knows that her dog, Mauly, isn’t only “man’s best friend.” Brittany brought Mauly into Wills Animal Hospital because he needed a bath. (Michael Pronzato)

image: Ernie and Doris Bartlett (left) enjoy the live music at Norman McDonald's Country Drive-In's fish fry and Friday, Oct. 18, 2013.

Ernie and Doris Bartlett enjoy the live music at Norman McDonald’s Country Drive-In’s Friday night fish fry. (Nick Fochtman)

image: Mr. and Mrs. McDonald Sr. guide their 1936 Chevrolet into the restaurant's parking lot. The Friday night fish fry at Norman McDonald's Country Drive-In is a long standing tradition that attracts people from near and far.

Mr. and Mrs. McDonald Sr. guide their 1936 Chevrolet into their restaurant’s parking lot. The Friday night fish fry at Norman McDonald’s Country Drive-In is a longstanding tradition that attracts people from near and far. (Nicht Fochtman)

image: Kim Jagoe (center) runs the A Simple Path program, which aims to teach homeless women how to cook and earn jobs in the food industry. Kim started the program in December 2012 after she realized there were few opportunities for women who live in shelters.

Kim Jagoe (center) runs the A Simple Path program, which aims to teach homeless women how to cook and earn jobs in the food industry. Kim started the program in December 2012 after she realized there were few opportunities for women who live in shelters. (Kellie Lafranchi)

image: A handmade rosary hangs on the wall of the Centro Latino. Sister Fran Wilhelm recieved this rosary as a gift from a friend in South America.

A handmade rosary hangs on the wall of the Centro Latino. Sister Fran Wilhelm recieved this rosary as a gift from a friend in South America. (Matthew Hatcher)

image: Josh Kuegel, 11, practices basketball in front of his home while family dog Maggie watches and finishes chewing up a stray Frisbee.

Josh Kuegel, 11, practices basketball in front of his home under the watchful eye of the family dog Maggie, who took a break from chewing up a stray Frisbee. (Jonathan Holt)

image: Temporary agricultural workers remove plastic liners from a watermelon field in preparation for wheat planting near Owensboro, Ky.

Temporary agricultural workers remove plastic liners from a watermelon field in preparation for wheat planting near Owensboro, Ky. (Rafael Luevano)

image: Mark McCrystal has worked for four years at Dahl & Groezinger Scrap Iron & Metals. "It's all right," he says. "It pays the bills."

Mark McCrystal has worked for four years at Dahl & Groezinger Scrap Iron & Metals. “It’s all right,” he says. “It pays the bills.” (Katie Meek)

image: Brittany Fulkerson, veterinarian assistant and surgical technition at Wills Animal Hospital, cleans one of the large kennels as closing time draws near. Brittany has four dogs and a cat of her own.

Brittany Fulkerson, veterinarian assistant and surgical technition at Wills Animal Hospital, cleans one of the large kennels as closing time draws near. Brittany has four dogs and a cat of her own. (Michael Pronzato)

image: JD Beach jumps up onto the oval track from the lower half of the track in his backyard.  JD monitors his heartrate while he practices, believing that he rides faster when he is calm and his heartrate remains low.

Dirt bike rider JD Beach goes airborne on the backyard track he uses for practice. He monitors his hear rate while he practices, believing that a calm rider is a better rider. (Michael Clark)

image: Officer Sean Schlachter is pushed on a swing by Newton Parrish Elementary School children, the age group that served as Sean's inspiration to become a D.A.R.E. officer. "That was my in --- the little kids. That's who I was doing it for."

Owensboro Police Department Officer Sean Schlachter says school kids such as those at Newton Parrish Elementary School served as his inspiration to become a D.A.R.E. officer. “That was my in — the little kids,” he said. “That’s who I was doing it for.” (Katharine Lotze)

image: Terry Walls sits in the empty hall of the old chapel building at the Boulware Mission Center. Walls says his faith in god is what drives him to help other people and to stay sober. "I'm here for a reason and I know god wants me here to help people get over their hurdles," he said.

Terry Walls seeks sanctuary in the chapel at the Boulware Mission. Walls says his faith in God drives him to help others and to stay sober. “I’m here for a reason, and I know God wants me here to help people get over their hurdles,” he said. (Tyler Essary)

 

image: Katharine Lotze, a freelance photojournalist from Los Angeles, shoots photos at sunrise on Friday.
Katharine Lotze, a freelance photojournalist from Los Angeles, shoots photos at sunrise on Friday. Photo by Nina Greipel

A New View of Owensboro

I’m looking forward to seeing Owensboro through a different viewfinder this week.

I have lived in Owensboro for nearly seven years, and I have gotten to write about many of the amazing people and events who shape this community. Several of my co-workers, along with me, are Western Kentucky University alumni, and we’ve all worked in a variety of roles at the Mountain Workshops. We pitched some of the ideas that are being pursued by photographers and multimedia participants.

These are stories I know — or at least I think I know them. I’ve read about them in the past, or I’ve heard talk about them around the community.

But, in reality, I don’t know the whole story. I’ve been able to tell about points in people’s lives. And these students are going to be documenting Owensboro and Daviess County in a whole new way.

I’m so excited to see Owensboro and its residents told through Mountain Workshops. I’ve seen the caliber of stories that past Mountain Workshops participants have been able to produce, and I am confident Owensboroans and Daviess Countians will enjoy seeing their community’s stories told in a new way.

These students will see things differently than a long-time resident does. They’ll find new perspectives and new stories that haven’t been told.

I can’t wait to see them.

image: Time-lapse coach Grant Kaye frames a shot from the roof of the Owensboro Area Science and History Museum.
Time-lapse coach Grant Kaye frames a shot from the roof of the Owensboro Area Science and History Museum. Photo by Nina Greipel

Time ‘capsulized’: tech advances crunch the clock

Jeffrey Brown tinkered with his Nikon camera on the second floor of the Owensboro Museum of Science and History, a quartet of life-sized barbershop figures following his every move.

“Almost set,” he says.

A telephoto lens slid into place with a click.

“There. Ready to go.”

Jeff, a junior photojournalism student at Western Kentucky University enrolled in the 2013 Mountain Workshops’ inaugural time-lapse track, is working with coach Grant Kaye.

The time-lapse photography technique captures frames at a frequency much lower than those used to view the images. When shown at normal speed, time appears to move faster –– to lapse –– which creates a surreal final product.

Jeff and Grant plan to complement the Mountain multimedia pieces with time-lapse sequences. The participant hopes that by doing so, he can walk away from the experience with a better understanding of message delivery.

“The experience has been great so far,” he says. “I was anxious at first –– I mean a one-on-one workshop is really nerve wracking. Once we started scouting locations and going out on assignments though, I realized that this could be the only time I ever get such close attention from a professional journalist.”

The 2013 Mountain Workshops mark Jeff’s third year of involvement with the program. The student previously participated as a lab technician and picture editor, both of which he believes have helped him gain a better grasp of his role as a visual journalist.

“At the end of the day, we’re here to tell stories,” Brown says. “Time-lapse is a technique that many journalists are only just starting to explore. I think it could be a unique way to attract viewers and keep their attention, and that makes my job much more exciting.”

(To follow Jeff’s time-lapse journey and to view additional content from the Mountain Workshops, visit our website at http://mountainworkshops.org.)

image: Velma Smith is a taxidermist. She owns Smith Wildlife Artistry and is currently working on a large piece.
Velma Smith is a taxidermist. She owns Smith Wildlife Artistry and is currently working on a large piece. Photo by Casey Toth

Satisfaction Guaranteed, or your ‘Cashback’

In the not-very-good film “Cashback,” Ben imagines having the ability to stop time.

Still images do that for real.

And better yet, through the wonders of technology, and a lot of work, we can gather all those frozen moments — different points in time, different places, different people — and put them all in one place.

Right here.

It’s the best of Day 3 at the 2013 Mountain Workshops in Owensboro, Ky.

We promise you won’t be shortchanged.

Grady Ebelhar, 61, holds corn shelled the night before as he dried and stored the kernels at the farm he owns with two of his brothers.

Grady Ebelhar, 61, holds corn shelled the night before as he dried and stored the kernels at the farm he owns with two of his brothers. (Austin Anthony) 

image: Alma Montgomery and her childhood friend, Hettie Krask, get their hair done together every Thursday. Hettie lives in the Roosevelt House across the hall from Alma.
Alma Montgomery and her childhood friend, Hettie Krask, get their hair done together every Thursday. Hettie lives in the Roosevelt House across the hall from Alma. (Emily Rhyne)

image: This is a retirement center for nuns.  The nuns run a pretty good size farm too.

Family and Sisters of the Mount Saint Joseph retirement home pay respects at the funeral of Sister Jean Mudd in Owensboro, Ky. (Bria Granville)

image: John Edge is Head Coach of Catholic High School football. Coach Edge says to his players, "You practice how you play." Here Coach plays super heros with Daughter Avery (7; front left) and Hayden (2, middle) with JT (6, far left) having earned his computer time while wife Lauren and daughter Anne (4) watch on.

John Edge, head football coach at Catholic High School in Owensboro, Ky., gets a “W” when it comes to family time — playing super heroes with daughter Avery, 7, and Hayden, 2, while JT, 6, enjoys his earned computer time. His wife Lauren and daughter Anne, 4, take on the spectator roll. (Jeffrey Kerekes)

image: Alma Montgomery, a 101-year-old resident at the Roosevelt House, gets ready before a potluck lunch with friends. Even at 101, she loves putting on makeup.

Alma Montgomery, a 101-year-old resident at the Roosevelt House, gets ready before a potluck lunch with friends. Even at 101, she loves putting on makeup. (Emily Rhyne)

image: The Owensboro Fire Department simulates a chlorine leak as a part one of a hazmat technician level course. Two "contaminated" hazmat technicians went into a shed filled with theater fog simulating a chlorine leak and then went through the process of a decontamination station.

The Owensboro Fire Department simulates a chlorine leak as a part one of a hazmat technician level course. Two “contaminated” hazmat technicians went into a shed filled with theater fog simulating a chlorine leak and then went through the process of a decontamination station. (Isabella Bartolucci)

image: Burmese Community, Somewhat large Burmese population. First Christian Church works with them, and had a fire in their sanctuary last year, still rebuilding   Subject will be Zaw Zaw, Win is interpreter  wife has high blood pressure , ESL classes for both...thinks they have kids   interpreter is Win Khine 270-256-7997

Soon after arriving home from school, Cing Sian Lun, 6, (left) tackles her homework with her sister, Cing Ngaih Kim, 3, by her side at their home in Owensboro, Ky. (Leah Voss)

Veterinarian Summer Buckner juggles a personal phone call before an emergency surgery on a dog with a laceration from a dogfight at Wills Animal Hospital in Owensboro, Ky., on Thursday October 17, 2013. The call was regarding her son who had come down with a fever during school hours and needed to be picked up.

Veterinarian Summer Buckner juggles a personal phone call before an emergency surgery on a dog with a laceration from a dogfight at Wills Animal Hospital in Owensboro, Ky., on Thursday October 17, 2013. The call was regarding her son who had come down with a fever during school hours and needed to be picked up. (Michael Pronzato)

Ahreon Gant (from left), 10, participates in a touch football game with his friends Mickiel Burney, 10, Tamarra Jackson, 11, and Nathan Tong, 13.

Ahreon Gant (from left), 10, participates in a touch football game with his friends Mickiel Burney, 10, Tamarra Jackson, 11, and Nathan Tong, 13. (Tyler Essary)

 

image: An aerial view of Owensboro shows how its citizens live as well as ongoing revitalization efforts.
An aerial view of Owensboro shows how its citizens live as well as ongoing revitalization efforts. Photo by Brigitte N. Brantley

River spins the thread for a town’s fabric

River towns have a way about them.

People provide the heart of a town, but rivers provide a big vein for that heart.

Life — noticed and unnoticed — flows by on the river. It’s a constant parade filled with pleasure boats, fishing boats, barges and debris.

The river rises and hides its banks, like a kid pulling a bedcover overhead. Then the river falls, scattering the bank with treasure from who knows where. That same kid will revel in it.

The townspeople take on the river’s personality.

They meander. They run hard.

They rise. They fall.

They use the river to get healthy, to get introspective, to calm — as potent a sedative as anything a doctor could prescribe.

River towns have a history rich in legend and tethered to exploration.

Yellow Banks became Owensborough and it became Owensboro.

The town served as a launching point for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The Owensboro Wagon Company became a nationally known manufacturing operation in the late 1800s.

But none of this without the river, the mighty Ohio — the “Good River” to the Iroquois, the “Beautiful River” to the French.

“In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes — so with the present time,” Leonardo da Vinci said.

Yes, rivers have that way about them.

image: Chandler West hunts for decisive moments inside Whittaker's Gun shop in Owensboro on Wednesday.
Chandler West hunts for decisive moments inside Whittaker's Gun shop in Owensboro on Wednesday. Photo by Nina Greipel

Behind the Scenes at the Mountain Workshops

Ignore the advice offered by the Wizard of Oz to not look behind the curtain.

A look behind the curtain at the Mountain Workshops 2013 in Owensboro, Ky., reveals a scene similar to the one that greeted Dorothy and her crew: an array of gadgets and more than one wizard turning raw into polished.

What you get is what the wizards see.

And through the course of the workshop, they see and hear a lot: thousands of images, hours of audio and video, and too many words to count.

They transform that — with heart, courage and brains — into a visually powerful, weeklong slice of life in a unique river town.

You’re not in Kansas, Dorothy.

You’re in Owensboro.

image: Jason Chow photographs subjects out for a walk in Owensboro, Ky., on Wednesday.

Jason Chow photographs subjects out for a walk in Owensboro, Ky., on Wednesday.

image: Michael Pronzato photographs at Wills Animal Hospital in Owensboro, Ky., on Wednesday.

Michael Pronzato photographs at Wills Animal Hospital in Owensboro, Ky., on Wednesday.

image: Coach Michael Williamson pleads with Katie Meek, right, as picture editor Ashton Songer, and participant Evey Wilson listen.

Coach Michael Williamson pleads with Katie Meek, right, as picture editor Ashton Songer and participant Evey Wilson listen.

image: William Kolb watches as guest editors Rodney Curtis, Kathleen Flynn, and Mick Cochran review for a weekly edit of Western Kentucky University's weekly best-of photojournalism gallery, "Through Our Eyes."

William Kolb watches guest editors Rodney Curtis, Kathleen Flynn and Mick Cochran review for an edit of Western Kentucky University’s weekly best-of photojournalism gallery called “Through Our Eyes.”

The Mountain Workshops for dummies

image: Grant Swertfeger, Carrie Pratt, Tim Broekema and Justin Winter discuss photo options under the watchful eye of Kentucky Governor Wendell Ford and his family.

Grant Swertfeger, Carrie Pratt, Tim Broekema and Justin Winter discuss photo options under the watchful eye of former Kentucky Gov. Wendell Ford and his family. (Rodney Curtis)

My name is Rodney Curtis, and I live outside Detroit. My photojournalism career has taken me through a passel of newspapers, but never in all my time have I had to share work space with so many dummies.

Each year I get the opportunity to invade a different small Kentucky town with the prestigious Mountain Workshops. Sponsored by Western Kentucky University, we parachute into a ready-and-willing city with 100 or so professionals and students. Less than a week later, we’ve photographed, videotaped and written about that town, up one street and down another. We leave them with a new website featuring their burg, a host of multimedia projects about their people and, incredibly, a beautiful and slick black-and-white photo book portraying a slice of their community frozen in time from that October week.

In the process, we teach the students how to document the town as unobtrusively as possible, taking only pictures, leaving only memories. Students and faculty have been taking part in these workshops since 1976, back when they traveled Kentucky photographing the disappearance of one-room schoolhouses.

This year, in Owensboro, we were asked not to disturb the dummies. We’ve set up shop(s) at the Museum of Science and History.  The museum features racecars in a “Speedzeum,” as well as a “Playzeum” for kids.  And, speaking of being frozen in time, there’s a replica of an ice-age Mammoth, parts of which were dredged from the Ohio River, which borders the town to the North. I learned the real-life model probably weighed more than all of us workshoppers combined, at least before we ate the cooking made for us by two incredible volunteer chefs.

But back to the dummies: they stand around here doing absolutely nothing. Well, that’s not precisely true. They stand, stopped in time, depicting an earlier era of Owensboro life. There’s a family eating breakfast, plastic eggs sunny side up, former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford giving a speech and several others.

They help the museum tell Owensboro’s story, but I would be lying if said they didn’t creep me out. At least I don’t have to work with them staring over my shoulder, second-guessing my photo choices for the book.

By Sunday, most of us will be gone; Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers, writers, editors, two guys working on time-lapse photography and all of the “labbies” who helped us pull this traveling road show together. If we’re lucky, we coaches will have learned as much as our students.

Only a dummy could be left unchanged by this experience.

image: Award-winning photographer RJ Sangosti takes a snap of the Mammoth replica to send to his five-year-old son Nick -- who loves dinosaurs -- back in Colorado.

Colorado photographer R.J. Sangosti takes a snap of the mammoth replica to send to his 5-year-old son, Nick, who loves dinosaurs. (Rodney Curtis)

Getting ready for bed comes with a bonus for 1-year-old Savannah "Scooter" Tucker – a kiss from her father, Clint Tucker, 33. They live 17 miles south of Owensboro.
Getting ready for bed comes with a bonus for 1-year-old Savannah "Scooter" Tucker ñ a kiss from her father, Clint Tucker, 33. They live 17 miles south of Owensboro. Photo by Lexi Namer

Searching for Moments in Owensboro

The Marketplace of Ideas philosophy hinges on the premise that when everyone gets a voice, the best ideas eventually rise to the top.

The Marketplace of Photojournalism works the same way.

Dozens of photographers in search of the perfect “moment” have descended on Owensboro, Ky. They pitch hundreds of images they think fit the bill.

And through the editing selection process, the “best” rise to the top.

Granted, it can become a subjective exercise, but the decisions come couched in objective standards.

These images represent the day’s “best” in the Marketplace of Photojournalism called Mountain Workshops 2013 — Owensboro, Ky.

But here’s a secret: a lot of the photos not chosen are pretty darn good.

image: Alma McGomery, a 101-year-old resident of the Roosevelt House in Owensboro, Ky., prays before breakfast on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. The house was originally founded for Union employees, but now provides retirement home services to approximately 221 senior citizens.

Alma Montgomery, a 101-year-old resident of the Roosevelt House, prays before breakfast on Wednesday, Oct. 16. The house was originally founded for union employees but now provides retirement home services to more than 200 senior citizens. (Emily Rhyne)

image: Ben, a 6-year-old therapy dog, gets a kiss from a student at Country Heights Elementary School in Owensboro, Ky. on Wednesday.

Ben, a 6-year-old therapy dog, gets a kiss from a student at Country Heights Elementary School on Wednesday, Oct. 17, in Owensboro, Ky. (Brigitte Brantley)

image: Emily Farmer, 8, plays with two of her siblings (not pictured) at the Dixiana Court Apartments playground on Wednesday, Oct. 16 in Owensboro, Ky.

Emily Farmer, 8, plays with two of her siblings (not pictured) at the Dixiana Court Apartments playground on Wednesday, Oct. 16 in Owensboro, Ky. (Leah Voss)

image: Cing Lam Nuampi rests her hands on the head of her nephew, Tau Sian Tuang, while surrounded by relatives spending time at her home in Owensboro, Ky., on Wednesday.

Cing Lam Nuampi rests her hands on the head of her nephew, Tau Sian Tuang, while surrounded by relatives spending time at her home in Owensboro, Ky., on Wednesday. (Leah Voss)

Heidi Givens and Jonah Edge, 16, a freshman at Daviess County High School, celebrate Jonah earning his fifth star for good behavior and work ethic during a tutoring session. Students earning five stars get to play on Givens' iPad.

Heidi Givens and Jonah Edge, 16, a freshman at Daviess County High School, celebrate Jonah earning his fifth star for good behavior and work ethic during a tutoring session. Students earning five stars get to play on Givens’ iPad. (Nick Gonzales)