2019 Capstone Senior Projects

Here at WKUPJ, we are excited to present a collection of the 2019 PJ436 Projects course final thesis. Students complete their photojournalism curriculum by enrolling in a semester-long instructional “workshop” that provides individual guidance and hands-on practical experience in producing a story that covers a topic of their choosing.


 

Life After Death

How grief forever changes a life

BY KATHRYN ZIESIG

Death is the one certainty everyone will one day have to face. However, when facing the death of a person you love, the grief can change your life forever. This documentary explores three stories of loss and chronicles the difficulties and years of heartache that come with the death of a loved one.

SEE MORE

 


 

For The Love of Jude

After a tragic accident, Katii Bishop searches for a new normal

BY ABIGAIL DOLLINS

Katii Bishop, a mother of four, copes with loss after the tragic death of her daughter from a car accident on December 28, 2018. The accident has left Katii searching for what life looks like without her daughter, Jude. Katii realizes, though, that although time moves on, the grief doesn’t necessarily get easier.

SEE MORE

 


 

High Hopes

Two stories of people in Kentucky who devote their lives to help those struggling from addiction in a state hit hard by the opioid crisis

BY KENDALL WARNER

This project brings together two sides of the opioid crisis in Kentucky. A personal story and a story about the epidemic on the frontlines accompanied with data on the epidemic in the state of Kentucky and resources for addicts and their families. The personal story is about Nikki Arnold-Strunck who lives in Richmond, Kentucky. Nikki lost her son, Brendan Strunck, to a heroin overdose when he was 24-years old. Now she travels around Kentucky to places like recovery centers and jails sharing their story and how his overdose effected her in hopes that she can change peoples lives. The story shares how she continues to cope with the loss of her son three years later and uses her story as part of that. The story on the front lines is through the eyes of members of the Louisville Fire Department about the multiple overdose calls they run on a daily basis, in a State hit hard by the opioid crisis.

SEE MORE

 


 

Spokes in the Wheel

Finding a balance between being competitive and having fun is something John and Jenny Lachowicz strive for as they raise their three sons Sam, Jacob, and Van, through BMX

BY EVAN MATTINGLY

In Clarksville, TN., the Lachowicz family are finding their roots and planting a plentiful garden. While juggling homeschooling, racing, and social interaction, bicycles bring this family closer in ways that cannot be explained but only witnessed. A wheel cannot spin without each spoke, much like a family cannot function smoothly without each member. Each individual, pulling and pushing at times, but always together in the end. The rambunctious family of 5, hold each other accountable and look at every day as a new day to make it a great one. This journey is far from over and they do not plan on stopping anytime soon.

SEE MORE

 


 

Revolving Doors

How a jail in rural Kentucky is working to break the cycle of addiction and recidivism

BY SKYLER BALLARD

In a state with the second highest incarceration growth rate in the country, Butler County Jail is seeing the direct effects of incarceration for addiction. In an effort to break the cycle of recidivism, the local jail is focusing on rehabilitation, offering many programs for inmates who want to start their road to recovery while serving time.

SEE MORE

 


 

A Mother’s Choice

Women across Kentucky fight for the legal rights of midwives

BY MHARI SHAW

In the state of Kentucky, midwives are not legally allowed to attend a home birth due to laws that have not been updated since 1975. Practicing midwives are put into a system that does not recognize the work that they are and have been doing for years. On March 13, 2019 senate bill 84 an act relating to Certified Professional Midwives, passed through the House and the Senate.

SEE MORE

 


 

Leaving a Mark

Accepting the spots that make them unique

BY EBONY COX

Spreading awareness about vitiligo in hopes that if someone sees another person who has it and looks different, they will be accepted instead of treated differently. Vitiligo is a skin condition that causes the loss of pigment in blotches. It can affect the skin on any part of the body regardless of age, race, or gender.

SEE MORE

 


 

Bound By Love

Defining the word family may be a hard task for some, but for Ashley Purcell, family is defined by one thing; love

BY KELSEA HOBBS

After having two children of her own and living a comfortable life with her small, but content, family, Ashley felt that something was missing. After talking with Scott and her two children, John and Ava, Ashley and her family collectively decided that what they were missing was an opportunity to share the wonderful life they had built for themselves. After being made aware of the foster care system in their community through their church, the Purcells decided the best way to share their lives with those in need was to become foster parents.

SEE MORE

 


 

To Be Like You

International students work to find their place in an American Society

BY TYGER WILLIAMS

Students at Geo International High School work to become more than just seen as an international, but to be someone like you. They seek to be successful in life, language, and learning to develop who they are in this diverse world.

SEE MORE

 


 

Just a Regular Joe

It’s not easy being a man. It’s especially not easy being a transgender man active duty in the US Army

BY JOSEPH BARKOFF

Follow Nic Maloney’s journey through finding himself and finding love. Stepping off the ledge, past the point of no return, transgender people, once certain steps are taken, there is no going back. Maybe he sometimes wishes he was born a man, but he wouldn’t be who he is today, and with who he is today. He has no regrets, and wouldn’t change a thing. “Even though it sucked.” It is not a cookie cutter life, or love. He met his wife when he was a woman. His wife identifies as a lesbian, after spending most of her life believing she was straight. To everyone on the outside, they appear as a straight couple. For her, she struggles with Nic’s identity taking the front, but feels she needs to protect him, so they don’t always tell new people the whole story.

SEE MORE

 


 

Within Our Border

The Southern Border creates conflict between two countries, a president, and migrants seeking asylum

BY MICHAEL BLACKSHIRE

The Southern Border has been a hot button issue in American society in recent years. The project is a news piece which focuses on how the southern border affects society in recent years. The project does not focus solely on an individual, but is more of the bigger picture of how society functions between the United States and Mexico. The idea of the southern border between the 2006 Border fence Act and President Trump saying “Build that wall” in front of thousands of supporters shows the growth of the southern border fence; and how many asylum seekers every year wait for their claim. Within our borders, our society creates a conflict between two countries within the same continent.

SEE MORE

 

Our 2019 Senior Single Photo Exhibition

At the end of the semester, we ask our capstone PJ436 students to select one photo that means the most to them from their time here at WKUPJ and to tell us something about the image. Obviously, it is a powerful thing to graduate from our program – we could not be more proud of this year’s seniors.


 

ABIGAIL DOLLINS

Paducah, Kentucky | Photojournalism major; Political Science minor

INTERNSHIPS

  • The Paducah Sun [Kentucky]
  • The Chautauquan Daily [New York]

Katii and Kyle Bishop inform their daughter Hannah that her younger sister, Jude, had died a few days after a tragic car accident they were in. The three sisters, Hannnah, 9, Norah, 7, and Jude, 5, were in a December 28, 2018 car accident. The tragedy resulted in them being transported to multiple area trauma centers and treated for life threatening injuries. Taking her health into consideration, Katii and Kyle decided it would be best to wait until Hannah made enough progression before telling her the news on Feb. 7, 2019, at the Frazier Rehab Institute.

ABOUT THIS PHOTO

On Feb. 7, 2019, I drove to the Frazier Rehabilitation Institute in Louisville, Ky., to meet Hannah for the first time. As Katii paced anxiously and then laid down on the hospital bed, I knew what was about to happen. Katii had discussed with me earlier in the day that it was time to tell Hannah about Jude. The hospital room was quiet and sterile as Katii carefully began to ask Hannah questions like “Do you know about heaven and angels?” I stood there looking through my viewfinder with tears rolling down my cheeks. In that moment, I had to find the balance between knowing I had a story to tell and feeling the pain of what was happening in front of me.

I made this image not long after I began my journey with the Bishop family. It never ceases to amaze me when someone allows me the opportunity to document the most intimate moments of their life. This is the most difficult and meaningful image I have ever made. I have laughed with this family; I have grieved with this family. Over the course of my time spent with the Bishops, I have realized that sometimes being a photojournalist means picking up the camera to document a situation that’s unfolding in front of you, and other times it means sitting with people and being an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. I will forever be grateful for what the Bishop family taught me about storytelling as well as what they taught me about myself.

 


 

EBONY COX

Gainesville, Florida | Photojournalism major; Criminology minor

INTERNSHIPS

  • Gainesville Sun [Florida]
  • Lexington Herald-Leader [Kentucky]
  • Indianapolis Star [Indiana]

Lashay Brooks, 24, of Louisville, Ky, wears her African head wrap on April 22, 2018. “That wrap is an escape from not having to do my hair or my wig. I can dress it up, put make up on and still be confident without my hair being done. I can be me, a black woman,” she said.

ABOUT THIS PHOTO

This picture means a lot to me, it was taken in my advanced lighting class which helped me come to the decision to own my own portrait studio. Through the process of taking this image, it taught me how to blend background colors in order to highlight different skin types. Taking this photo helped me get out of my comfort zone by experiencing a different aspect of photography, fashion photography. It taught me the ability to be able to tell a story about an object instead of a person. With learning that, there are many more doors and opportunities that could be opened just by knowing a little more.

 


 

KATHRYN ZIESIG

Nashville, Tennessee | Photojournalism major; Entrepreneurship minor

INTERNSHIPS

  • West Brentwood Living [Tennessee]
  • St. Louis Review [Missouri]
  • The Post and Courier [South Carolina]
  • The Flint Journal [Michigan]

Jimmy Gayton stands and applauds as Zandrina finishes singing “Rise Up” during the Emanuel 9 Rally for Unity on Saturday, June 23, 2018 in Marion Square. Gayton’s sister-in-law was Myra Thompson, one of the nine victims in the Emanuel AME shooting in 2015.

ABOUT THIS PHOTO

On an extremely hot Charleston, S.C. day I went to this assignment while interning at The Post and Courier. I was sitting in front of the stage making images of the people in the crowd as one of the singers preformed the song “Rise Up.” The entire rally was filled with so much emotion and by the time she started singing I was tearing up while trying to keep taking pictures.

One of my favorite things to capture in images is raw emotion. Whether that is extreme joy or sadness, I always strive to capture those in a picture. One person in particular caught my eye that day, a man standing up front was pouring his heart out while singing along. As he sang, it almost looked like he was screaming to the sky while tears ran down his face.

Sometimes it is hard for me to make these images because it feels like I am intruding on a private moment, but after making this image and talking with the man I found out his sister-in-law was one of the people who died in the Emanuel AME shooting in 2015 and he was more than happy to talk to me about it and give me his name. He even thanked me as I left. After this I realized that while some images might be hard to take, the people in them sometimes just desperately want to tell their story and have people understand what they are feeling. I think that’s why I love this image so much, because I realized I am capable of being the photojournalist I want to be and produce work that can connect people.

 


 

KELSEA HOBBS

Elizabethtown, Kentucky | Photojournalism major; Entrepreneurship minor

Martha Emmons, 63, of Paducah lies back on her bed to put on her shoes while getting ready for work with her husband, Hutch Smith, 67. Martha and Hutch own BikeWorld, a bike shop, which they opened together in Paducah in May 1987. With the shop’s 30th anniversary approaching this coming May, Martha says, “It wasn’t until we were about to have our 20th year that we thought ‘Huh, I think we’re going to be pretty successful in this.'”

ABOUT THIS PHOTO

As photojournalists, there is absolutely nothing like cultivating a meaningful relationship with the subjects that allow you into their lives. Personally, I feel like I have succeeded as a photographer when the relationship with my subjects progresses to the point where I am allowed to be a part of quiet, intimate moments in their lives. In this image, I feel like I achieved that special kind of relationship with the Emmons’. In this moment it was like I wasn’t even there. We were so comfortable with one another that it was nothing for me to be in their bedroom while they got ready in the morning. That is special. Although I might not remember the images that I made during this story, I will always remember the time spent getting to know Martha and Hutch and the connection I made with them. This is why I do what I do, because ultimately it isn’t the images you walk away with, it’s the relationships.

 


 

JOSEPH BARKOFF

Santa Rosa, California | Photojournalism major; Journalism major; Military Science minor

INTERNSHIPS

  • US Army; Fort Knox [Kentucky]
  • 101 Airborne 2 Battalion Combat Team; Fort Campbell [Kentucky]
  • Deb Dawson Equine Photography [California]
  • Discoveries West [California]

WKU Army ROTC Cadet Tom Pelkey, from Rochester, Minnesota, prepares to open the contents of his MRE (meals ready to eat) while taking shelter with his battalion-mates at Training Area 14 on April 14, 2018 in Fort Knox, Ky. A lightning storm descended over the area while Cadets conducted a platoon sized ambush lane. Luckily the Army had tents setup within range of retrograde movement. The tents would house close to 10,000 Cadets as they move through TA14 in the upcoming summer training. WKU Cadets, once a semester, travel to the base Army Cadet Summer Training Advance Camp is taught in Fort Knox, and conduct FTX (field training exercise). All Cadets under contract to be commissioned in the Army as 2nd Lieutenants must first pass Army Advanced Camp, often attended in the summer between junior and senior year.

ABOUT THIS PHOTO

This was my fourth of a final six FTX’s I was privileged enough to be allowed on while earning my degrees at Western. I was in the Navy when bellbottoms were still issued, and originally had no idea I was going to be a journalist when I went back to school in 2013. One of the three people who set me on the path to become a full package journalist, Thomas De Alba, died 29 days short of his 28 birthday this past week.

What started as just a class in photography, has turned into three collegiate degrees. Everything I have seen and done has prepared me to be a journalist. Because of Thomas, the other co-editor in chief, Nadav Soroker, and Anne Belden our professor, I came to WKU to pursue a degree in photojournalism. When I got to WKU I was told my photo work was “not even good enough to get the job done.” Thanks to WKU PJ, I have improved and hope to be able to cover troops as an embed journalist for a national news source. I would prefer to work as a civilian for a civilian company to better protect my sources, the troops, instead of being a PAO or otherwise government employee.

 


 

KENDALL WARNER

Woodbridge, Virginia | Photojournalism major; political science minor

INTERNSHIPS

  • Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department [Virginia]
  • Victoria Advocate [Texas]

Ellen Estill plays with the youngest cat she has in her home at the time who she calls Wild Man. He was found sick and injured in the road. Ellen took him in, got him veterinarian care, nursed him back to health, and has found a new home for the eight-week-old kitten. “They’re part of my family, I love every one of them,” says Ellen. 

ABOUT THIS PHOTO

This photo is from my second time participating in the photojournalism portion of the Mountain Workshops in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky in October of 2018. I was ecstatic when I drew a slip of paper with the keyword “kitty” on it out of the hat and the description said 35 cats. I met Ellen that day and immediately bonded with her over our mutual love for cats, coffee, chocolate, and what she was doing for these cats who may have gone without a home otherwise.

Ellen runs Kitty Lodge Inc., a retirement home for elderly cats. She takes in cats whose owners have passed away or have become too old to care for them. She even sometimes takes in younger cats because she of course would not turn one away.

“It’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do,” Ellen said. “I feel like God put on my heart that it was a service that needed to be done.”

Ellen is 71-years-old and returned to work as a veterinary assistant solely to provide for the cats. Recently Ellen was awarded a grant from the Doris Day Animal Foundation to help with the cost and care of providing for her cats. As part of the application for the grant, my photo story on Ellen was submitted alongside and helped secure the grant for her. While I was in town for the workshops, Ellen and I started off every morning together by sipping coffee and eating Honey Bunches of Oats. I was even in town for her birthday and we had a wonderful dinner at a local restaurant. Stopping to see Ellen on my way back home from school is always the highlight of my journey and I am always sad to say goodbye. Ellen and this story will forever hold a special place in my heart. Ellen and I are very similar in many ways which can be encompassed by this quote, “When I die,” Ellen says, “I want to come back as some crazy nuts cat just like me.”

 


 

EVAN MATTINGLY

Nashville, Tennessee | Photojournalism major; Creative Writing minor

INTERNSHIPS

  • Philmont Scout Ranch [New Mexico]
  • The (Owensboro) Messenger Inquirer [Kentucky]
  • WKU Football Videographer [Kentucky]
  • Kertis Creative [Kentucky]

Jockey Jose L. Ortiz rides the number 9 horse Yoshida as he beats out Beach Patrol (10)ridden by Joel Rosario during the 2018 Old Forrester Turf Classic at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY.

ABOUT THIS PHOTO

The Kentucky Derby has always meant something to my family so when I was asked if I wanted to go and shoot the illustrious event I could not pass up the opportunity. Working for Dan Dry, a derby veteran, was nothing short of unforgettable. The freedom he granted myself and the other classmates that were on the team let me stretch my eye and try new things with my camera. The motion blur that you see in this picture was one of about 40 takes between multiple races.

I enjoy looking at life like I am traveling at light speed and that I am always moving forward. Some days it is not always like that but as long as I have this image, my life keeps moving and changing. In order to grow, I believe you need to take chances and always know that moving forward is the best direction. I have been told I like to take chances with my photography and this is a prime example of when taking a chance, timing, and position, all come together and a frame is filled with something exciting.

 


 

MHARI SHAW

Louisville, Kentucky | Photojournalism major; Digital Advertising minor

INTERNSHIPS

  • Waterstep [Kentucky]

Mary Duke, mother of two, comforts her youngest child while cleaning her home in Alvaton, Ky. Duke is a co-president of the Kentucky Home Birth Coalition, which is a social media platform that provides space for women to get involved in the midwife community. Duke owns My Sunshine Birth Services, which helps women in Bowling Green and surrounding areas with multiple services including pre and postpartum visits, lactation consults and labor.

ABOUT THIS PHOTO

I feel like everything I had learned in the program brought me to this moment inside Mary Dukes home. I woke up the morning of March 3, 2019 and headed out to the home of a woman I had been longing to meet for 6 months. I had spent countless hours and interviews talking to women in the community, where I was always asked the same question “Have you talked to Mary Duke?” Mary Duke is one of the leaders of the midwife and doula community in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Imagine my frustration, I was working on a project where I had not had contact with the main character of my story. As a freshman, I learned how to find your story. As a sophomore I learned the importance of character, as a junior I learned patience. All of these lessons brought me to Mary Dukes’ door. I was welcomed inside and instantly felt like I had known her and her family for years. This photo of her comforting her child in her kitchen, a small detail of her life, reminds me of my journey through this program, something I will never forget.

 


 

MICHAEL BLACKSHIRE

Louisville, Kentucky  | Photojournalism major; Film major; African-American Studies minor

INTERNSHIPS

  • The Center for Gifted Studies [Kentucky]
  • Las Vegas Review Journal [Nevada]

Patrick McGee Jr. holds his younger brother Arqueil Clark and Mother Aretha McGee as they made a makeshift memorial with a teddy bear and balloons tied to a liquor bottle, and spend the night in tears, remembering the highlights of LeeAndrew’s life before being murdered at the age of 26 at the Dino’s Gas Station in the Westend of Louisville. This day, they commemorate the one-year anniversary since his murder on March 28th, 2017. As nightfall brightens up the gas station lights, the McGee family place a teddy bear and balloons in LeeAndrew’s memory, of someone they lost way to soon. “I don’t even like going by Dino’s anymore. They killed Breezy. Watch the teddy bear we put down in the front of Dino’s be gone by tomorrow,” Patrick McGee Jr. said.

ABOUT THIS PHOTO

This picture means the world to me. During my time as a photojournalism student at WKU I have not seen a photo that showed black pain in the inner city like my photo has. That’s what I wanted to accomplish when I started my ‘broken branches’ project. I wanted a person in a different state to see the struggle my hometown of Louisville is going through. The photo almost didn’t happen. I didn’t have a car at the time so I had to catch a Greyhound bus back and forth from Bowling Green to Louisville as I worked on the project. I was originally taking photos of a balloon sendoff commemorating the one-year anniversary of LeeAndrew McGee’s passing at a local park in the Westend of Louisville but my bus was delayed so I had some extra time with the family.

My project up to that point was conversations and portraits. But this was the first time I was actually seeing first-hand the pain a black family in Louisville was going through. There was real pain there.

Upon arriving at the gas station, the family put down a teddy bear and a bunch of balloons tied to a liquor bottle were LeeAndrew was murdered. Two friends smashed two liquor bottles and screamed in anger over his passing. The moment happened so quickly. By the time I decided to take a close up of Patrick McGee Jr., his tears were almost gone and the hugging moment became more somber. Within five seconds of the image being made the mother said “let’s go.” In these five minutes, I experienced more pain and suffering than I have ever seen from any other photo I took before. I went home that night thinking I can’t believe that happened, I can’t believe I experienced that. The photo received an award of excellence in COPY but I was just happy a black student’s photo from his hometown could show black pain in Louisville. I love my black people and I love Louisville and that moment is dedicated to anyone lost by gun violence in the city.

 


 

TYGER WILLIAMS

Louisville, Kentucky | Photojournalism major; Sociology minor

INTERNSHIPS

  • Interlochen Center for the Arts [Michigan]
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [Wisconsin]
  • Philadelphia Inquirer [Pennsylvania]

Officer Charles Irvine Jr., 23, lies in the hearse as he is escorted by the Milwaukee police department and saluted by the Milwaukee fire department as he passes beneath the American flag over N. 9th St. on Fri. June 8, 2018. It has been 22 years since an officer died in the line of duty in Milwaukee, Wis. On June 7, 2018, Officer Charles Irvine Jr., died in a car accident while in pursuit of a reckless driver. His partner lost control which caused the squad car to flip 20 times before landing on its roof.

ABOUT THIS PHOTO

It was a Thursday night when I received a phone call from the director of photography, Berford Gammon, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, telling me about a death of a police officer. He needed me and fellow WKU student Chris Kohley, to go down to the medical examiner’s office to capture photos and videos. We showed up and the whole street was filled with police officers waiting to hear of any news. After that night, I was sent to cover a press conference with the Chief of Police.

I was told that the image I’m capturing would be running center A1. It was a nerve-racking feeling, but I felt confident in my ability to create a strong image. I showed up early to scout an area I wanted to set up to capture the image. I knew I needed to get the hearse driving underneath the flag, so I got down onto my stomach and pointed the camera up hoping for the best to get everything in frame. If it weren’t for WKU Photojournalism I wouldn’t have known to show up early, stay late, or how to compose a photo, get close, step back and try new angles. This image is a constant reminder of how far I have come in this program.

 


 

SKYLER BALLARD

Bloomfield, Kentucky | Photojournalism major; Criminology minor

INTERNSHIPS

  • Philmont Scout Ranch [New Mexico]
  • Chesapeake Bay Program [Maryland]
  • The Denver Post [Colorado]
  • The Los Angeles Times [California]

A portrait of my grandfather, Bennie Goff—or Pop to us grandkids—on our family farm in Bloomfield, Kentucky.

ABOUT THIS PHOTO

I was born and raised on my family’s farm in rural Kentucky, where I was fortunate enough to experience all that a kid can on farm—space to run and ride horses, a love of nature, and the type of motivation that can only come from being surrounded by the hard labor it took from my family to keep a farm running. Of course, I took all of that for granted for most of my childhood, until my aunt gave me my first camera. She taught me to take pictures on our farm, where we would practice aperture and shutter speed by photographing chickens and cows. I came to love photography then, the way it made me love where I was from and want to keep it with me in photographs. This photo is of my grandfather, Pop, taken for a project in picture stories class. I credit so much of my creativity to him and to the farm he has kept alive for all of us. Without it, I may never have found my passion for photography and I certainly would not have done so well on my intro to photojournalism class egg picture.

 


 

Beyond Graduation: Naomi Driessnack

A RECURRING SERIES

In an April 5, 2019 email interview, Naomi Driessnack, a 2016 WKUPJ graduate sat down for a few moments and told us about her path from the classroom at WKUPJ to her current position at Apple. While Naomi cannot disclose exactly what she works on as a photo editor with Apple’s Media Content photo team, she finds the job extremely rewarding and fascinating. 

Where were you born?

I was born in State College, Pennsylvania.

What High School did you attend?

I went to Virgil I. Grissom High School in Huntsville, Alabama. My dad was in the military and we moved around a bunch growing up, but I claim Huntsville as my hometown.

Is there an interesting story that brought you to WKUPJ or photojournalism in general?

Hmm, actually it is a pretty good story. I had expressed to my dad that I was interested in photojournalism. I had just watched a documentary in high school called Born into Brothels and was completely blown away with the impact of photojournalism, the reach and the opportunities. My dad, being the researcher that he is, found WKU among the top schools with photojournalism programs, and he also found that they had a workshop for high schoolers during the summer. He immediately signed me up.

When it came time for me to go, I refused. I was nervous to be in a strange place, surrounded by people I didn’t know, focusing on a subject that I did not feel confident in. I distinctly remember crying in the car (I’m a drama queen). My dad told me that I did not have to go, but that I had to call the workshop coordinator and let them know I would not be attending. The idea of confronting an adult and telling them I didn’t want to go because I was nervous was so lame that I couldn’t do it.

I attended WKU’s high school workshop and I loved every second of it. I met amazing people, made lifelong friends, became acquainted with the school I would later choose to attend, hung out with the professors and learned how to use a freaking camera.

After attending the workshop, I knew that I needed to be at WKU and I really wanted to be a part of WKUPJ.

When did you start attending WKU and what year did you graduate?

I started attending WKU in the fall of 2011 and graduated in the spring of 2016. Just one victory lap. [smiley emoji]

Why did you require the “victory lap”?

I took an extra year, which allowed me to study abroad for a semester in Harlaxton (England) my sophomore year. I was also able to complete a winter term in Cuba and a Summer term in Germany. Having an extra year gave me the flexibility to take advantage of these programs. Another bonus of having a victory lap year meant that I had more chances to take internships before graduating. During my time at WKUPJ I interned with TIME, CNN.com and InStyle.com leading up to graduation. I also worked as a freelance photo editor for InStyle.com my senior year, working the morning shift 5 am to 8:30 am Monday through Friday. My extra year was extremely worthwhile, giving me work experience and a definite edge to separate me from other recent graduates.

Naomi Driessnack’s life as a photo editor finds her in exciting spaces and places, like here in 1 World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan in a conference room at GQ, an incredible view of the Hudson River over her shoulder. “No, I’m not cruising my Instagram account during a meeting,” Driessnack said. “This is a pretty accurate picture of what it’s like to be a photo editor – buried in my phone answering emails every chance I get.”

Immediately after graduation I …

The day before my graduation I flew to and from NYC for an interview and started at GQ as a photo assistant a week after. I mostly assisted the magazine’s director of photography (who is still my boss – now we are at a different company), but also was able to edit a small section of the magazine. I worked for GQ and GQ Style magazine for a year as a freelance photo assistant and then one year as a full-time assistant photo editor for GQ and GQ Style magazine as well as GQ.com.

Who do you currently work for?

Currently I work for Apple as a photo editor on the Apple Media Content Photo team based in Cupertino, California. Unfortunately, I can’t talk more about what I do at Apple. I know, it’s silly, but I can only mention the team that I am on.

Since graduation, tell us about some of the more interesting places you have visited as part of your work being a visual storyteller?

Maybe not so much as “places” that I have visited, but as a photo editor I am able to assign photographers to cover stories. A few of my favorite commissions have been commissioning Grant Cornett to photograph the two highest rated American restaurants, Devin Christopher to photograph the culture around “Donks,” in Miami, Grant Hindsley to photograph Steve Aoki’s workout routine while on tour and Wayne Lawrence to document New York City’s beachgoers.

In hindsight, is there anything you learned while in a PJ class at Western that still resonates with you now?

WKUPJ taught me to constantly be searching for the beautiful and unique parts of people. Everyone on this planet has a story if you listen well enough. The unique, wacky parts of people are what is fun to photograph, but the best part of storytelling is discovering the similarities that connect us all.

What has changed in your professional plans from the time you enrolled at WKU until now? Did you ever expect to be where you are today?

I always thought I would be working in journalism, specifically breaking news. Now, I work in tech (ha!), an industry I never thought photojournalism would take me. I definitely did not expect to be where I am today while I was in school.

Do you have any immediate future work plans that you can disclose? What awaits you in 2019?

I cannot disclose. [smiley face emoji]

If you could have any “dream” freelance assignment, what would that be?

I would like to curate a gallery show of photography that focuses on niche culture studies.

What is your favorite memory from WKUPJ?

An amazing benefit of being in WKUPJ meant that I had the opportunity to work as a staff employee for student publications, including our campus yearbook The Talisman. Working with a bunch of weird, talented, hardworking people who cared about creating meaningful and honest work that represented WKU accurately was a dream. I made my closest friends and my favorite memories brainstorming ideas to capture our campus in unique ways and helping students discover what set our school on a hill apart, both good and bad. I cannot stress enough how significant the experience was. I do not think our student publications would be as highly regarded without strong programs like WKUPJ equipping students with the technical skills needed.

A close second favorite memory would be pulling all-nighters and staying on campus over Thanksgiving break to work on a documentary I made alongside my short-form documentary class called Beyond Breath. Because we were documenting our subject’s Thanksgiving, we all missed the chance to celebrate on the actual calendar day. Instead, a day later after we were finished documenting, we all pitched in and cooked a HUGE Thanksgiving meal and ate together. WKUPJ was and continues to be my family. [smiley face emoji]

How can we see more of your work?

My website is mainly work I produced or shot for GQ before joining the team at Apple. You can find mostly pics of my dog here and some lame jokes I make here.

 

The Wrongful Imprisonment of Jose Luis Garcia

The Wrongful Imprisonment of
Jose Luis Garcia

Story by Gabriel Scarlett and Skyler Ballard

Residing in in the Unites States for 50 years and a current green card holder, Jose Luis Garcia was arrested by ICE as part of a new Trump administration policy targeting legal and illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds. The policy put in place to deport gang members ended up arresting people like 62-year-old Garcia who had a minor infraction 17 years ago.
For the complete story visit:

 

Jose watches fireworks from his rooftop on July 4th. For weeks after his imprisonment, he suffered from nightmares and sleepless nights. But he remains positive and says that achieving his full citizenship is his number one priority. “I will continue to do the right things with my family and I will become a U.S. citizen in no time.”

 

More than a week after the arrest of her father Jose (who is a green card holder), Natalie Garcia tries to console her daughter Marley outside their home in Arleta, California from which Jose was taken. He had been watering his lawn and preparing for a shift driving for Uber, one of his three jobs, when ICE officials detained him for deportation for a charge from two decades ago. Since his arrest, Marley has slept in his bed and lays out his clothes each day to pretend that he is there.

The Pain We Cause

The Pain We Cause:

The entanglement of addiction and incarceration in Kentucky, told in two parts.

By Morgan Hornsby and Gabriel Scarlett

Upon her release from jail for drug-related offenses, Amy McKeown struggles to adjust to life at a home with a family she has alienated during decades of addiction.
At the Warren County Jail, volunteers and staffers try to prepare inmates for reentry into society, but the challenges of life on the outside still prove daunting for most.

 

Once a month, the Warren County Jail allows local churches to come to the facility to hold a baptism service for inmates who wish to participate. Part of Miles’ job is to coordinate with local groups, like churches, recovery groups, local businesses, and a community college

Mountain Workshops 2019

THE WKU PHOTOJOURNALISM PROGRAM’S MOUNTAIN WORKSHOPS ANNOUNCES CYNTHIANA, HARRISON COUNTY, KENTUCKY AS THIS YEAR’S WORKSHOP LOCATION

OCT. 29 – NOV 3, 2019

The Mountain Workshops, now in their 44th year, is an internationally recognized collection of simultaneous workshops on photojournalism, video storytelling, picture editing and collaborative digital storytelling.

In what started as a class project to document one-room schoolhouses in Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, the Mountain now hosts roughly 100 visual storytellers each year as they explore a different Kentucky community.

This October, these participants and faculty will tell the stories of the small northeastern Kentucky town of Cynthiana. Established in 1793 by Robert Harrison, it is believed he named the town after his two daughters, Cynthia and Anna. Home to 6,200 residents (18,000 in Harrison County) Cynthiana is a quiet community nestled in the middle of the Louisville, Lexington and Cincinnati “golden triangle.” A rich history of tobacco and bourbon whiskey still lingers here.

Each participant will tell a story about a community member that, as tradition dictates, they draw out of a hat. Participants typically have journalistic training and come from a variety of journalism schools and professions, but it is not limited to those in the newsgathering business. Attendees come from various storytelling backgrounds and sometimes come back to the workshop several times. It is the rich traditions of this workshop that make it one of the oldest photojournalism workshops in the country.

Scott Applewhite, a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist with the Associated Press, said the workshop environment is crucial to the next generation. “Where would any of us journeymen (photojournalists) be if we had not been guided by seasoned pros who had walked the path before us. Bless you for always giving so much of yourself to our emerging photojournalists, especially this week at the Mountain Workshops,” said Applewhite in an open letter to the workshop faculty last year.

Industry challenges over the last 25 years has changed the structure of the Workshops. Where once film was processed in tiny bathrooms, digital labs full of computers and high-end digital cameras now fill the headquarters which are provided by the communities each year. As the business of photojournalism has changed tremendously, the multitude of mentors and coaches that volunteer their time have kept the Mountain Workshop’s values intact. It’s always about the story.Mountain Workshops Logo WKUPJ WKU

Nicole Raucheisen who attended the 2018 Video Storytelling Workshop, worked on a story about a volunteer fireman. He was burned in an explosion over 30 years ago receiving burns over 30% of his body. Raucheisen was touched by her time with her subject.

“When someone is more open to the process it allows you to take more risks. It allows me to think of more interesting ways – to push a little deeper – to go underneath surface-level storytelling. The interactions that I’ve had here will inform how I produce stories in the future, particularly when dealing with sensitive subject matter,” said Raucheisen.

About 150 participants, faculty and staff will gather in Cynthiana in October, a community sitting on the Licking River and priding itself on its close-knit community. The Mountain Workshops will produce documentary shorts, still images and collaborative projects in the hope of capturing the spirit of the people and their love for who they are and where they are from. There will also be a book and a traveling gallery.

“Only well-informed, warm-hearted people can teach others things they’ll always remember and love. I think the most important thing participants will learn isn’t about gear, or lighting, or technique — those are valuable in the short term. By (Mountain’s) example, they are learning how to give back,” said Applewhite.

For further information, please contact: mountainworkshops@wku.edu or visit www.mountainworkshops.org.

Beyond Graduation: Emilie Milcarek

A RECURRING SERIES

In a March 25, 2019 email interview, Emilie Milcarek, a Flemington, NJ native and a 2018 graduate, provided us with her story about her time here at WKUPJ.

 

Is there an interesting story that brought you to WKUPJ or photojournalism in general?

Prior to attending WKU,  I was at Wesley College in Dover, DE working towards a degree in Exercise Science. I had become very sick with an autoimmune disease that kept taking me out of school for a semester at a time. I found myself in a position where I had to relearn to walk every time I got sick and I needed to find a way to push myself.  During this time I picked up a camera I had not used since I was a photography student in high school and I loved it. I then went back to school at Wesley, changed my major to Media, realized I needed a school that was more specialized and enrolled at the New York Film academy. While there discovered that I loved what I was learning, but not what I was doing. I was creating scripts and storylines when I was truly passionate about sharing stories that already existed in the world.  I started going to workshops and talking with professionals in the field who spoke highly of WKU and how it would be a great fit for me. They were right.

Immediately after graduation I …

… started working for NC2 Media in Franklin, Tenn. working for their Lonely Planet Digital Platform team, making text-led videos for social media.

Who do you currently work for?

I am still employed by Lonely Planet, but have expanded my responsibilities within the digital platform team. As the demand for all things visual got greater, we started creating videos for clients and partnering with other countries as well. I’ve since taken assignments on all levels of platform videos and assignments as a camera operator and assistant producer.

Since graduation, tell us about some of the more interesting places you may have visited as part of your work being a visual storyteller?

The most interesting place I’ve been so far has been Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. I traveled there in August for the Beluga whale migration and then again in November, as you see me above, for the polar bear migration onto the ice. Both trips felt like I had traveled to two different locations because of how drastic the seasons were. The stories behind this town, which is so tiny and remote, and their lives co-existing with these incredible animals was truly life changing. I want to go back because there are so many more stories to be told.

In hindsight, is there anything you learned while in a PJ class at WKU that has resonated with you now?

Keeping to deadlines and never having excuses are the reasons I keep being offered more opportunities. I’ve proven myself to be a very reliable employee in every aspect and that is something that was instilled in us as WKUPJ’s. Never miss a deadline, no excuses.

What has changed in your professional plans from the time you enrolled at WKU until now? Did you ever expect to be where you are today?

Honestly, I always saw myself as a photojournalist and particularly a sports photographer. As I completed my senior year I realized how much I cared about storytelling and connecting with people. Now, my job most of the time is editing. My favorite thing to edit has been videos called “Just Back From.” It’s an interview with the writers of Lonely Planet and making use of their mobile phone content. Being able to listen to them and figure out what they’re trying to communicate through their on camera interviews (as they’re not on camera personalities) is challenging and rewarding to me. I never thought I would love the process of editing, this came as a surprise to me. It goes to show that life plans can change.

Do you have any immediate future plans for work? What awaits you for 2019?

My plans for 2019? I plan on staying with this company as long as they’ll have me and keep advancing within the company. I also have decided that giving is as important as receiving and am seeking out non-profit clients that represent similar beliefs as mine and give back to their cause by donating my skills as an editor and visual story teller.

If you could have any “dream” freelance assignment what would that be?

My dream freelance assignment would be to produce, shoot, and edit a series of short docs.

What is your favorite memory from WKUPJ?

My first year as a participant at the Mountain Workshops in Franklin, Ky. I was the only time-lapse participant with Grant Kaye as my coach. Years later I still talk about that experience. It was the first time I pushed myself to tell a story in a medium that doesn’t usually do that. I pushed myself as hard as ever in every possible way. I remind myself of that feeling whenever I’ve hit a wall with my projects.

Where can we find you?

www.emiliemilcarek.com

Instagram: @emm_milcarek

LinkedIn: Emilie Milcarek

Ali Exhibition starts it’s nine-week run

The Muhammad Ali photo exhibition at the School of Journalism & Broadcasting had its opening reception on Monday, March 11. The publisher of Picture: Muhammad Ali photo book Warren Winter gave opening reception remarks thanking Courier Journal photographer Pat McDonogh, the books editor, for realizing the importance of the collection they uncovered in their archives. Courier Journal photojournalists C. Thomas Hardin, Keith Williams, Bill Luster and Sam Upshaw Jr. joined McDonogh for a roundtable to discuss the experiences around covering Ali during his 4-decade career as a boxer and humanitarian.

The exhibition is open Sunday, 1:00 – 9:00, Monday – Wednesday 9:00 – 9:00 and Thursday – Friday 9:00 – 5:00 thru May 3. The book can be purchased by visiting here.

RECENT PRESS

WNKY-TV: Bowling Green

College Heights Herald

Bowling Green Daily News

From left, Courier Journal photojournalists Pat McDonogh, Bill Luster, C. Thomas Hardin, Sam Upshaw Jr. and Keith Williams talk about their experiences photographing The Champ during his 40-year career.  | Photos by Jonathan Adams

More than 60 prints make-up the exhibition of rare, never before published images.

Photojournalist Keith Williams, left, talks with colleague C. Thomas Hardin about images in the exhibition they took more than 40 years ago.

Students and members of the community study images in the exhibition.

Students explore a near life-size reproduction of what is believed to be the first photograph of a 12-year-old Cassius Clay as a boxer.

From left, Courier Journal photojournalists Pat McDonogh, Bill Luster, C. Thomas Hardin, Sam Upshaw Jr. and Keith Williams talk about their experiences photographing The Champ during his 40-year career.

Photojournalist Keith Williams, lower left, and C. Thomas Hardin sign copies of Picture: Muhammad Ali after the roundtable lecture while photojournalist Sam Upshaw Jr., right, talks with a WKU student.

 

WKUPJ Career Day turns 15-years-old this spring

WKU student, Abigail Dollins, meets with Tennessean photo editor Marcia Prouse as fellow students and portfolio reviewers go about their business at Career Day.

Career Networking, 101

Fifteen years ago, WKU Photojournalism program coordinator, James Kenney, was concerned that many of the students in the program had never applied for an internship or even interacted with a photojournalism professional. As a result, he invited a handful of photographers and editors from area publications to WKU’s campus so that students would have an opportunity to show their work and practice their interviewing skills. What started as a one-time event has evolved into an annual spring-semester program tradition.

Kenney said that he expected that this experience would be beneficial to the students, but he did not anticipate the value it would bring to the professionals.

“The opportunity to meet face to face during WKU’s PJ Career Day is extremely valuable to not only the student but also the professional,” said Mykal McEldowney, who is the Visuals Manager at the Indianapolis Star. “It’s exciting to see students’ current work but to also see their growth year-over-year. It’s not simply a career day, it’s a job/internship interview.”

The day of the event, McEldowney takes off from Indianapolis in the wee hours of the morning in order to make it to the 9 a.m. start time. He joins his colleagues – who number from eight to 17 in any given year – in Room 127 in the PJ lab to get ready for a line of well-dressed students waiting for an opportunity to meet with them. Students are encouraged to interact with as many of the professionals as they can to receive feedback about their portfolio and advice concerning their future. After lunch, there is a roundtable discussion with all of the professionals and students, where questions are answered and more general advice is given about what it takes to be a successful photojournalist. After the roundtable, one-on-one meetings continue until late in the afternoon.

Though the Career Day experience alone is a valuable step in the students’ future careers, the experience can also result in an actual job. This was the case for WKU senior, Ebony Cox, who has faithfully attended the event since she started in the program. “Career Day has been instrumental in my growth as a photojournalism student here at Western,” she said. “Being able to network with staff photographers and editors can open many doors to some amazing opportunities. I highly recommend going all four years too. You are able to create a bond with these professionals and they are able to watch you grow year after year in your shooting. I became the Indianapolis Star’s 2017 summer Pulliam Fellowship recipient thanks to Career Day!”

WKUPJ Senior Skyler Ballard tells a story of immigration

En Muerto En Vida

BY SKYLER BALLARD

In the thirteen years that Jorge and Christina Zaldivar have been married, the family has been fighting for Jorge’s legal residency in the U.S. With a changing administration and an increasing focus on ICE and immigration policies, the family fears that Jorge’s time in the U.S. will soon be up.

Ballard began documenting the family during her summer internship at The Denver Post. See the entire story here.