The 2017 Lens Collective was a multimedia workshop focused on cultural preservation in the Mississippi Delta through storytelling. The workshop took place on the campus of Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi.
The workshop combined 12 mentors, 28 students and 8 colleges from across the nation, including the University of Mississippi, Delta State University, Jackson State University, Allegheny College, American University, Guilford College, West Virginia University and Ohio University. The mentors included professors from the respective colleges, National Press Photographer’s Association executive director Akili Ramsess, international photojournalist Cheryl Hatch and The Dallas Morning News’ Smiley Pool.
The 2017 Lens Collective was a success because of the hard work and planning by the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, the Fielding L. Wright Art Center at Delta State University, Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning and many other people and organizations.
My partner and I chose a story about the associate band director at Delta State University who introduces percussion sounds from Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean to DSU students. My partner, Kamera Griffin — a recent graduate of the University of Mississippi’ Meek School of Journalism and New Media — took most of the photographs, while I shot most of the video. We both had a part in capturing audio of the unique sounds of drums from around the world. Altogether, we had one day to shoot and capture video, photos, audio and interviews. Kamera and I had approximately five hours to sift through and edit all of the footage to create our final multimedia project.
We presented our multimedia projects at the Grammy Museum in Clevelend, Miss. after the lens collective for locals to enjoy, and we also presented our work at the Overby Center in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media for our faculty and students.
The 2017 Lens Collective gave me the opportunity to learn more about the state I call home while sharpening my skills as a journalist. I was able to take what I learn in the classroom into the field, alongside classmates, mentors, and professionals. This experience gave me more confidence in my ability, and it showed me that I have what I takes to be a successful journalist across any medium. I hope this type of experience becomes a model and norm for more students and professionals to participate in.