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One-Week Documentary Photography Workshop – The Mississippi Delta

Combine this workshop with the Three-Week Delta Documentary Film Workshop and save 10%. to learn more.


One-Week Documentary Photography – The Mississippi Delta







August 25th – September 1st, 2013
Clarksdale, Mississippi
Save $149 when you register by June 15th
$1,349.00 includes deposit. $700.00 deposit is non-refundable & non-transferable. Deposit must be in by May 1st, 2013. Balance due July 1st, 2013.
Meals eaten at The Shack Up Inn are included in tuition. Meals eaten out (optional) are the responsibility of the student.
Housing is NOT included and should be booked through The Shack Up Inn. Pricing on housing varies depending on your choice and what is available. Please see Housing section below.
9 students max
Ron Haviv
Les Stone
Amy Toensing
David Turnley
Chandler Griffin


NOTE: This workshop was created to be taken with the Three-Week Delta Documentary Workshop, but it can also be taken as a standalone workshop. We offer a 10% discount if you enroll in both workshops. Please if you are interested in signing up for both workshops.



The Mississippi Delta is rich in oral history and holds old and new stories waiting to be discovered and shared with the rest of the world. Explore new ideas at the birthplace of blues artists like Robert Johnson, B.B. King, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf, and Muddy Waters. Step into Juke Joints and hear how Delta and Hill Country blues still shapes the lives of North Mississippi. Walk the fields and film where cotton was king. Interview the people who lived and breathed the civil rights movement. Visit endless catfish farms spread across vast cotton fields. Tell stories about factories closing and the importance of preserving local economy. Meet local artists who call THE DELTA their home. Experience a historical place and meet people waiting to share their personal stories of hardships, inspiration and triumph.

Possible topics: Cuisine, civil rights, arts, blues, education, agriculture.

Program Overview


Based at The Shack Up Inn in the famous Mississippi Delta, participants will photograph a theme over a week in the life of this timeless landscape with individualized mentoring from the Barefoot Workshops instructor.


At Barefoot Workshops, students don't study textbooks, they create images and make films.

But we also say, “It’s not about film and photography,” meaning that the experience you have telling someone’s story, and how that experience changes you, your subject, and the community is what Barefoot is all about.

Learning how to tell a story well will move your audience, which is both exciting and a humbling experience. Students learn that the artist becomes "the keeper" of a person's story. Your subject will entrust you with their story and it becomes your responsibility to honestly tell that story.

At Barefoot Workshops, you stand in cotton fields and listen to stories about the difficult life of sharecroppers, you sit on the banks of the Mississippi River, you hang out in a juke joint and hear sounds that have defined American music. You are part of history in an incredibly rich area of the United States.

Those of us who teach with Barefoot have seen all of these things over and over and it's what brings us back every year.


Day 1 (August 25th) Sunday

Arrival Day

Day 2 (August 26th) Monday

Photographers meet in classroom. The day will be spent with introductions to one another, and a presentation of the instructor's own work, to serve as a launching off point, to begin discussing the fundamentals of photographing people to construct an essay or story with photographs. By the end of the afternoon, we will begin to work with each photographer to create a game plan to find, and begin photographing a week in the life of a subject of the photographer's choice- leveraging the existing diversity and vibrancy of the Mississippi Delta.



Day 3 (August 27th) Tuesday

9am - 10:30am

Photographers will begin the day reviewing each photographers game plan to begin photographing their essay, which can be defined by any number of constructs- a person, a community, etc... A week in the life of The Mississippi Delta.

11am - 5pm

Each photographer will begin photographing their project. The instructor will work each day in the field with two different photographers, accompanying them during their shooting.

5pm - 6pm

Photographers will reconvene at the end of this first day to download their first day's experiences. Ingest & Critique through the evening. Group participation and discussion is encouraged.

Day 4 (August 28th) Wednesday

9am - 12pm

Photographers return to the field to continue photographing their projects.

1pm - 6pm

Photographers return to the field to continue photographing their projects.


Evening Session - Ingest & Critique

Day 5 (August 29th) Thursday

9am - 1pm

Review Day 3's batch of photographs and to continue discussing the direction that the work is taking, with mentoring from instructor and the group.

1pm - 6pm

Photographers return to the field to continue photographing their projects.


Evening Session - Ingest & Critique

Day 6 (August 30th) Friday

9am - 1pm

Photographers return to the field to continue photographing their projects.

1pm - 2pm

Guest Presentation if appropriate given shooting schedule.

2pm - 6pm

We will continue to download and review the previous afternoon, and morning's work.


Evening Session - Ingest & Critique

Day 7 (August 31st) Saturday

9am - 4pm

The instructor will work with each photographer to edit their week's work and to construct an essay of photographs. The photographers will then gather to enjoy a group show of their work- with a summary of each participant's experience during the week.

4pm - 8pm

Break while the instructors prepare for the final screening.


The Workshop will culminate with a screening back to the public.

Day 8 (September 1st) Sunday

Departure Day.


Meals are part of the tuition booking but we recommend that you purchase snacks if you want something other than the three meals a day. There is a grocery store nearby so it's no big deal to purchase things locally. We'll occasionally go out to an optional "dinner out" where students are responsible for their own meal. If you opt out, there is always a meal at home. On designated days students will be allowed to go out on their own. You'll want to get out for meals when you can. We spend so many evenings in the classroom that it's nice to get out. But there is always dinner at home if you choose to stay in.

Please let us know if you have any dietary needs that should be addressed. * Vegetarian, gluten free, etc.

Research/Ideas For Stories

If you want to get a jump on ideas and learn about the "characters" in town please feel free to start looking around. Email us if you want to get started early.


Equipment is not provided in this workshop but we can recommend rental houses in the local area if you need to rent a body or lens.

Here is a list of what you should bring.

* Digital Camera with at least a 10 megapixel chip. Yes, more megapixels are better. The Canon 5D MarkII is an ideal camera but not required.

* Lenses to bring: A wide zoom lens is needed for this workshop. Something like a 24-70mm.

* Laptop Computer (PC/Mac), w/DVD burner or hard drives with free space

* Editing Software installed on your computer and be somewhat familiar with it - at the very least take the tutorial. If you can take the time to learn more, all the better for your experience with learning to edit your work. Adobe Lightroom and PhotoMechanics both have free 30 day trials available online.

* An External Mouse for your laptop. It will make your work faster and your hand happier.

* Memory Cards: at least two 8 GB

* Card Reader, Firewire or USB2.0 or 3.0 for ingesting your files faster.

* Power Adapters: any power cables for your laptop and digital camera and your battery chargers.

* Camera Manual... seriously

* Two Camera Batteries (at least) + Charger

* Blank DVDs or Portable Hard Drives for backing up images (3x more than you think you need) I would suggest at least 100GB.

Planning Your Trip

For the fourteenth time, the Barefoot is based on historic Hopson Plantation at The Shack Up Inn. Students are responsible for booking their own rooms and should contact The Shack Up Inn as soon as a deposit has been paid. Housing Options: #1 Shacks. A shack has two bedrooms and shares a bathroom. #2 Bins. A bin is more like a hotel room and is single occupancy. Shacks are considered more rustic and authentic. Both have heat and AC. All bins are designed the same way, while shacks are all different. Please visit The Shack Up Inn website for more information on housing options. Wireless is available at The Shack Up Inn. Washer/dryer is also available. Laundry detergent not provided.

The Shack Up Inn

(662) 624-8329


The easiest way to rent a car is through the Memphis airport. You must have transportation figured out for workshops held in Clarksdale, so unless you are driving your own car to the workshop, you'll need to rent something.


Please fly into the Memphis (MEM) airport. It is very easy to get to Clarksdale from Memphis, 80 minutes... assuming you don't get lost in a cotton field. Highway 61 runs from Memphis down to Clarksdale and we are right off the highway set back in a cotton field. Please visit The Shack Up Inn for directions. If you have a smart phone just enter "001 commissary circle, Clarksdale ms" in it and it will lead you down the highway.

When To Arrive & When Do We Start

The class runs from August 25th - September 1st. We recommend that all students arrive on Sunday the 25th in the early afternoon 1pm or 2pm arrival at the Memphis airport. This will give you enough time to get your rental car and get to Clarksdale in the late afternoon. If you have them time, consider coming down the day before (Saturday) and relaxing before it all starts. It will be a very long workshop once we begin on Monday morning. If you want to come down a day earlier, let the Shack Up Inn know by emailing them at If you are coming down a day early, check with the shacks before you book your ticket to make sure housing is available.

We will have an informal meeting after 7pm dinner on Sunday evening (the 25th) and class starts on Monday morning at 9am.

When To Leave

The workshop is over on the morning of Sunday the 1st. Checkout is at 11am. People pack up and are usually headed back to the Memphis airport in the late morning or early afternoon. A 1pm or 2pm departure is normal.


“What makes this workshop rise so far, far above is how fully all of the instructors give of themselves – they give not just what they know, but also who and what they are. It's one of those impossibly wonderful experiences that really does have to be experienced to be understood.”

Paula Froke, USA

Deputy National Editor Associated Press

“It was very well drilled that it's about learning and trying to understand the true story of a place or a person and connect with them. Also about the responsibility you have telling one's story. Barefoot Workshops was an eye opening, heart enlarging and taste developing experience. You learn so much you can feel the growth.”

Gabriella Willenz, Israel

“It changed my life... It is about the story, about people, about moving others.”

Yara Hannema, Holland

“Barefoot is beyond your expectations and brings your documentary dreams to reality!”

Nina Shah, India

“Overall something has shifted inside of me in a positive way - which if you could put that in context - is huge. But as I am still processing - having just got home last night - it has changed me in ways that are still intangible. I have a fire in the belly that hasn't burnt in five years. So that's quite something... If you want to learn to create films spend three years at film school, if you actually want to make films spent one to four weeks at a Barefoot Workshop, It's quite a ride, but worth it.”

Edwina Mason, Australia

“Making a film about a subject you have not yet decided, with someone you have never met before, and who obviously has a different approach and point of view than you, in a town and state you have never been before, learning all the process from basic camera operating to lighting and interview techniques, ending up in editing in FCP, all in less than 2 weeks, is quite of a challenge. And this is the interesting part of it. It is real. You have to make a film, a real film, about 10 minutes long, and you have no choice, but it has to be a good film and it better look good, because you are showing it to over 50 people at the end of the course. The structure of the program, its flexibility, its friendliness, the informal and unique aspect of the location, the sharing between students, and the learning from the teachers who are all talented professional, makes this workshop unique and fully worth it. I have validated a lot of my previous technical skills during the workshop, and we have concluded it with an 8 minute film which I liked a lot, sorry but I am just sincere here. It is the result of a combined effort with my partner student, where we fully dedicated our efforts to reflect a small side of someone's life into this short film, and we succeeded. I am extremely motivated in continuing further in this direction, and making this a new starting point in my career. ”

Jean-Hugues Houdin, France

“documentary workshop experience is about honoring the creative process, collaboration, and being a conduit for the sharing of people's voices. I think the name "Barefoot" implies walking in this world with a sensitivity and respect for different cultures and people. I think "It's not about the film" to imply that it is not just about the external manifestation of a story told through film, but rather the transformation of self in relationship to others through the act of listening. Thanks to the Barefoot Workshops, I successfully got my feet wet in learning the basics of documentary filmmaking. I walked away with a short, ten minute, documentary that has impacted my life, profoundly connected me to a place (Clarksdale, Mississippi) and hopefully inspired those who told their stories. Thank you for providing me the opportunity to discover the power of listening and storytelling”

Hilary Cline, USA

At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I want to tell everyone that this workshop inspired a confidence and freedom to create I haven't felt in years. I came to Mississippi hoping to complete something from start to finish - to have a finished product. I left feeling simultaneously more capably human and artist than I have in years. Worlds have opened up for me I didn't know existed, and now I see the potential for documenting Stories everywhere.”

Susan Fritz, USA

“It's about the experience of learning the craft, engaging with your surroundings, and collaborating with your peers. It's commendable to create an award-winning doc but the experiences listed above far outweigh awards and nominations. Chandler, his selection of top-notch instructors, and phenomenal support staff create the most worthwhile environment and experience for learning documentary filmmaking. These educators are infinitely passionate about not only creativity and craft, but also the latest technology. Most important, Barefoot Workshops creates a comfortable environment where collaboration, communication, learning, and progress come naturally because of the instructors' ability to instill passion in creatives of all ages and ethnicities.”

David Wright, USA

“Exceptional quality and value for those interested in expanding their knowledge and ability in documentary story telling.”

John Buffaloe, USA

“I asked virtually no questions ahead of time; just went on a very strong gut feeling and instinct that this would be something very, very special. To say it and you came through is the understatement of the century. As I've said many times, words just can't possibly do it justice. Floyd in the cotton field. Lighting lessons at midnight. Dinosaur tails and spectacular sunsets and soul-rocking music and the 24-hour pure passion and dedication of four fantastic instructors. Total immersion, an instant family, friends for life - it was the spirit as much as all the phenomenal technical knowledge that made this so extraordinary. What makes this workshop rise so far, far above is how fully all of the instructors give of themselves - they give not just what they know, but also who and what they are. It's one of those impossibly wonderful experiences that really does have to be experienced to be understood.”

Paula Froke, USA

“It has made me realize that the responsibility of telling a truthful story supercedes all obstructions, distractions, and doubts. The world today is so prone to skip the most valuable aspects of humanity, and we are compelled to capture and illustrate those very moments on film. If you want to tell a story that matters, a story that changes the world, come to Barefoot and let your voice be heard.”

Stephen Moody, USA

Photos & Examples

Please visit our Photo Gallery to view examples.


Barefoot Workshops will not assume responsibility or liability for any loss or damage of personal effects or for any injury or loss during your program. Barefoot Workshops is not liable for any loss, damage, or injury caused by war, weather, sickness, government restrictions or regulations or any other causes over which we have no control. Barefoot Workshops recommends that each participant carry personal travel insurance to cover the cost of any unforeseen emergency, damage to or loss of baggage, cancellation or sickness. If a participant becomes ill or incapacitated, Barefoot Workshops may take whatever action it deems necessary to preserve his health/safety, including medical treatments, hospital transfers at the participant's expense.

* By paying deposit and tuition and/or by attending this workshop, students agree to these non-negotiable terms. *