West Slope Photojournalism Workshop

Session 1: May 31 – June 11.
Session 2: June 21 – July 2.


The West Slope Photojournalism workshop (WSPJ) is a summer-long photography and storytelling workshop put on by Abigail Harrison, a photojournalist based in the west. WSPJ is a continuation of the Paonia High School Photojournalism Workshop, a program Harrison ran at the local high school. For six months, a class of 15 students explored topics including long-form photo essays, journalistic ethics, and editing/review. The curriculum was responsive to local and national news, including special sessions on the election and the insurrection on the capitol. The intention of this workshop, at its core, was to encourage participants to reflect critically on their circumstances, and feel empowered to share their unique stories through photography.

This workshop is a continuation of the previous, and will empower participants to share stories from their lived experiences. In doing so, students address a fundamental question of modern journalism: “Who controls the narrative?” These young storytellers will learn to wield their visual voice in consideration of a larger social context. WSPJ provides students with hands-on experience using industry standard multimedia equipment and techniques. Participants will explore these topics with the guidance of several industry professionals introduced to them by Harrison. Through a combination of lectures, roundtable discussion, and photography excursions, participants will learn and build upon concepts of camera use, journalism ethics, writing development, and artistic presentation.

Participants are taught to use industry standard equipment and asked to think critically about the implications of those products. This prepares them to enter higher education and the workforce with critical reflective and professional skills. This workshop is meant to help youth in the North Fork Valley reflect critically on their own circumstances and feel that their voices are valuable, in order to ultimately place themselves in a larger, more complex world.

West Slope Photojournalism whiteboard image


Session 1: May 31 – June 11.
Session 2: June 21 – July 2.

Weekly Structure: each two-week session includes ten distinct meetings.

M1-2: Fundamentals: basic camera use, photographing using manual settings, camera care, composition, exposure.

M3-6: Execution: how to tell the story, who/what are we photographing, what is “capturing” a photo about, how are stories conceived and designed.

M7-10: Articulation: organizing, editing, sharing the work. How do we share things that are important to us? Presentation, visual literacy, composure.

Participants will meet every day from 9am-12pm. The first half of every day is a lecture and discussion. The second part is experiential (photography and videography).

8:45am – Arrive
9:15am – Module 1 (L + D)
10:30 – Module 2 (exp.)
11:45am – End

West Slope Photojournalism classroom image


Luna Archey image

Luna Archey – Luna is a visuals editor and designer for High Country News magazine. She has worked as senior photo editor and photographer at The Michigan Daily, as an intern at the Topeka Capital-Journal, and as a freelance photographer and videographer. She holds degrees from the University of Michigan in Biopsychology, Cognition, & Neuroscience, and Art & Design.

Forrest Czarnecki image

Forrest Czarnecki – Forrest’s childhood obsession with black and white photographs developed into a deep passion for storytelling and visual journalism. He graduated from Colorado State University, where he majored in journalism and media communication with a focus on photojournalism and Western American natural resources history.

Mary Mathis image

Mary Mathis – Mary is a freelance multimedia journalist in Santa Fe, New Mexico and she hosts, researches and produces Parks podcast, a long-form audio series on the history of dispossession of Indigenous land to create U.S. National Parks. She’s been a photo editor at Outside Magazine, NPR, and regularly works for The New York Times and The Washington Post as a photojournalist.

Kelsey Brunner

Kelsey Brunner – Kelsey is the staff photographer at The Aspen Times. She has worked as a photojournalist at The Greeley Tribune, a visuals editor for WOUB Public Media and interned for The Deseret News in Salt Lake City, The Gazette in Colorado Springs, and The Denver Post. Kelsey has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in international media and art photography from University of Colorado Boulder and a Master’s degree in photography from Ohio University. Kelsey contributes to publications like The New York Times, Washington Post, and Colorado Public Radio. Her personal work focuses on rural communities and agriculture.

Moe Clark image

Moe Clark – Moe is a reporter + photographer for the statewide publication Colorado Newsline, where she focuses on criminal justice and housing issues. Her work focuses on social and environmental justice. She has a degree in biology and ecology and a master’s degree in journalism.

Eli Imadali image

Eli Imadali – Eli is a freelance photojournalist based in Denver, Colorado. He is interested in exploring identity and culture, place, health and trauma through documentary and portrait photography. His interest in photojournalism stemmed from escaping the suburban sprawl to capture the natural world of the Colorado Plateau, and evolved into a passion for documenting the human experience in all its complexity and wonder.

JT Thomas image

JT Thomas – JT is an award-winning photographer, science journalist, educator, storyteller and media consultant who strives to produce images and films about scientific discovery and social and environmental issues. With a background in environmental biology, sustainable development and science & health journalism, JT frequently collaborates with scientists, politicians and, entire communities and artists in order to document the critical issues of our times with a human-interest, narrative-driven approach.

Shawn McCarney Alviz image

Shawn McCarney Alviz – Shawn is a Colombian American photographer and lighting director working in NYC for the last 5 years. He’s contributed to the photo teams for National Geographic, New York Times, Bloomberg, AARP, The Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine. His ongoing documentary projects focus on the intersectionality of underrepresented cultures as they chafe against the dominant modalities of the 21st century domestically and internationally. He graduated from The School of Visual Arts in NYC with a BA in Visual and Critical Studies.

West Slope Photojournalism outdoors image


We are asking for your sponsorship for the 2021 Western Slope Photojournalism Workshop. The curriculum has been developed, but needs your support to make it happen. With your help, the workshop will have the capabilities to compensate the instructor, acquire camera and computer rentals from the school district, and include professional photojournalists as guest lecturers. With your help, we can implement this program for all three sessions.

The value of this work in the community is palpable, as it is the only organized opportunity for young people in the North Fork Valley to learn the foundational skills of photojournalism. Rural areas tend to lack access to professional and technical development in specific industries. This workshop addresses this lack of accessibility directly, through hands-on experience using industry standard multimedia equipment/techniques, with the guidance of several industry professionals.Through a combination of lectures, roundtable discussion, and photography excursions, participants will learn and build upon concepts of camera use, journalism ethics, writing development, and artistic presentation.This prepares them to enter higher education and the workforce with critical reflective and professional skills.

By supporting these workshops, you are helping to support high quality youth art programs that are available to students on the gift model, so all interested students may participate. You will be able to keep up with student work through the Instagram, @phs_doc.

Please make your contribution via PayPal (select the Donate button below) or Venmo @The-LearningCouncil. Email questions to alicia@thelearningcouncil.org.

Or mail a donation to:
P.O. Box 1744
Paonia, CO 81428

Thank you for supporting arts programming for youth in the NFV!