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Research for science, culture, and history stories

Photo research is one of the least understood — and most valuable — tools a photographer can learn. Especially if they seek to cover specialty topics such as science, environment, culture or history. Photographers who can take on complex, technical assignments and do the research necessary to identify, explore, and tell compelling stories will distinguish themselves from the masses.  This workshop will bring together distinguished Summit faculty who have built careers around creating visual stories for major publications like Smithsonian and National Geographic. They will share the skills that brought choice assignments their way because they could tell stories and make pictures that were beyond the capabilities of other photographers. From conceptualizing ideas, writing proposals, researching concepts and locations, to delivering hardworking images rich in context and background we’ll cover a wide range of directly useful skills.

One Day Workshop: June 19th, 2021

Two 2-hour sessions. 

11am-1pm Eastern Time 

Session One will feature Dennis Dimick and Jim Richardson: Dennis will discuss and show examples of visually driven editorial projects originating as published science on issues such as the carbon cycle, climate change, soil conservation, groundwater depletion, declining Western snowpack, population dynamics, and the future of food supply.

Jim will talk about the editorial photographic process, beginning with general research that leads to the conception of story ideas, the writing of story proposals, research of picture situations that will carry the visual narrative forward, how research aids in field work and how the background research brings greater impact and credibility to the pictures in the publishing process.

There will be ample time for questions and interaction.

2pm-4pm Eastern Time

Session Two will feature photographer and archeologist Matt Stirn discussing his work filling the roles of researcher, writer, and photographer for many publications including Smithsonian, National Geographic Traveler, and other feature magazines around the world. Matt will discuss a freelancing approach to research and story development which often involves shooting first and pitching second. By looking at recent work published in Archaeology Magazine and Smithsonian, Matt will explore ways to identify interesting stories, utilize personal expertise, build research networks, and publish pieces that reach wide audiences across multiple venues. 

Matt, Dennis and Jim will then begin a round table discussion exploring research and development of photographic stories and how to leverage this approach for rewarding assignments, greater impact, and building of a meaningful body of work.

Dennis Dimick

The son of fisheries biologists, Dennis Dimick has used his experience of growing up on an Oregon sheep and hay farm and his university studies in agriculture and journalism to underpin a four-plus decade career in visual journalism. His focus has been on environmental change at the hand of man, with scientific research as a foundation. In this workshop Dimick will discuss and show examples of visually driven editorial projects originating as published science on issues such as the carbon cycle, climate change, soil conservation, groundwater depletion, declining Western snowpack, population dynamics, and the future of food supply. His work as a National Geographic Magazine picture editor and environment editor has been recognized by the Society of Environmental Journalists and Pictures of the Year International. He has been on faculty of the Missouri Photo Workshop for nearly a quarter century, and he is teaching a University of Oregon science journalism class on increasing effects of wildfire in the West.

Jim Richardson - Summit Photography Workshops

Jim Richardson

Workshop Faculty

Jim has work appearing regularly in National Geographic magazine and National Geographic Traveler in addition to Geographic books. Jim is on assignment for Nat Geo projects almost full time and for good reason. Richardson, a onetime newspaper photographer in Kansas and Colorado, brings amazing story-telling techniques along with detailed research to his pictures. Thirty years ago, he began photographing the area around his hometown in north central Kansas.

Matt Stirn

Program Manager

Matt is a photographer, writer, and archaeologist from Jackson, Wyoming. The majority of his work focuses on travel, nature, and cultural and environmental conservation. He is a National Fellow for the Explorer’s Club and has worked as a senior photographer and on assignment for archaeological and conservation projects on four continents. Matt’s work has been published with Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, GEO, BBC, Archaeology Magazine, Outdoor Photographer Magazine, and more. Matt’s work at Summit is diverse and ranges from assisting at our core workshops to planning and running many of our international and destination workshops.

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