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AFSPC hosts first ever Visual Storytelling Workshop

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Drew Osumi, commercial photographer, demonstrates different lighting techniques to Airmen during the inaugural Air Force Space Command Visual Storytelling Workshop in Colorado Springs, Colo., Nov. 1, 2016. The workshop was modeled after various Department of Defense and civilian photo workshops world-wide to provide Airmen an opportunity to learn from industry experts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Salanitri)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Drew Osumi, commercial photographer, demonstrates different lighting techniques to Airmen during the inaugural Air Force Space Command Visual Storytelling Workshop in Colorado Springs, Colo., Nov. 1, 2016. The workshop was modeled after various Department of Defense and civilian photo workshops world-wide to provide Airmen an opportunity to learn from industry experts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Salanitri)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Lt. Col. David Westover, Air Force Space Command Public Affairs deputy director, comments on the success of the inaugural AFSPC Visual Storytelling Workshop at the Leadership Development Center on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Nov. 4, 2016. Public Affairs photojournalists from every wing in AFSPC attended to reap the benefits of working alongside industry experts and learn how to tell a story through imagery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Manual Martinez)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Lt. Col. David Westover, Air Force Space Command Public Affairs deputy director, comments on the success of the inaugural AFSPC Visual Storytelling Workshop at the Leadership Development Center on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Nov. 4, 2016. Public Affairs photojournalists from every wing in AFSPC attended to reap the benefits of working alongside industry experts and learn how to tell a story through imagery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Manual Martinez)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Bob Houlihan, Airman Magazine editor-in-chief, discusses photo techniques with Airman 1st Class William Tracy, 50th Space Wing Public Affairs photojournalist from Schriever Air Force Base, during the inaugural Air Force Space Command Visual Storytelling Workshop in Colorado Springs, Nov. 1-4, 2016. The workshop was held for AFSPC photojournalists to come together with industry experts and learn how to tell a story through a camera lens. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Salanitri)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Bob Houlihan, Airman Magazine editor-in-chief, discusses photo techniques with Airman 1st Class William Tracy, 50th Space Wing Public Affairs photojournalist from Schriever Air Force Base, during the inaugural Air Force Space Command Visual Storytelling Workshop in Colorado Springs, Nov. 1-4, 2016. The workshop was held for AFSPC photojournalists to come together with industry experts and learn how to tell a story through a camera lens. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Salanitri)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – -- Air Force Space Command hosted nearly 30 Public Affairs Airmen who collectively represented every wing across AFSPC for the 2016 Visual Storytelling Workshop at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Nov. 1-4.

The workshop brought Airmen together with industry leaders to gain better technical knowledge on photography and learn how to tell a visually dynamic story through their photos.

“Each Airmen was responsible for coming up with a story that fit the theme of the workshop,” said Tech. Sgt. David Salanitri, AFSPC photojournalist. “The theme was ‘family’, derived from Gen. John Raymond’s speech during his change of command. The Airmen pitched their story ideas to their assigned mentor and were responsible for completing it over the course of 60 hours.”

Industry leaders mentored the Airmen and brought their own unique experiences to the workshop. Several luminaries in the photography field volunteered their time to coach photojournalists across the major command and sharpen their skill set.

Mentors ranged from a renowned freelance sports photographer and the current editor-in-chief of Airman Magazine to the chief photojournalists at Air Force Recruiting Command and the Thunderbirds. Collectively the mentors have been published in national level publications including Sports Illustrated, USA Today, New York Times, TIME Magazine and more, and have won national and DoD-wide awards for their work.

They were eager to pass along their knowledge to the aspiring photographers by focusing on helping the Airmen build on the foundation of the elements to a good story.

“In space command, it's very difficult to tell the story of objects in places that we cannot physically go to as photographers,” said Salanitri. “This training was geared toward helping photographers understand that every person has a story. In order to help audience members connect to a space command’s programs, it's best to tell that story through the eyes of actual human beings.”

With the high-level of experiences and skill the mentors were be able to provide, Salanitri said they hoped to help the Airman grow as visual communicators and storytellers.

Modeled after various DoD and other civilian industry photo workshops world-wide, the overall goal of the storytelling workshop was to have the attendees return to their bases excited to put their new skills to the test in telling the Air Force story.

“The workshop was a great opportunity for me to mingle with industry experts and glean as much knowledge from them as possible,” said Senior Airman Rose Gudex, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs photojournalist. “The biggest thing I learned is that while a photo may 'look pretty,' it doesn't necessarily advance the story at all. The feedback I received during the workshop will help me create stronger photos with a more impactful message."

Workshop organizers were grateful that PA shops across AFSPC gave the 30 Airmen the opportunity to attend the workshop for a full week in the hopes they return better equipped to carry out their mission.

“We want Air Force Space Command to be synonymous with the phrase expert visual storytellers,” said Salanitri.

With the inaugural AFSPC Visual Storytelling Workshop declared a success, the mentors are looking forward to seeing what their protégées produce throughout the coming year as they go on to tell the Air Force story.

*Editor’s Note: Senior Airman Rose Gudex and Alethea Smock contributed to this article.

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