A visual storytelling workshop documenting the historic city of the Palio and its people lead by Randy Olson and Melissa Farlow.

The Workshop

The focus of the workshop is to develop a deeper understanding of visual storytelling through lectures and field practice while documenting the Tuscan city of Siena. Participants will learn how a National Geographic story is created from inception to publication, and they will work on expanding the basic tools used to translate stories of everyday life into compelling images that create dynamic visual narratives.

Daily lectures provide instruction on the elements of visual storytelling and how to craft meaningful stories when combining images. Participants will practice various creative techniques while photographing people’s daily activities. This will allow photographers to engage and experience Siena, not as a tourist, but as a National Geographic photographer working to produce a captivating photo-essay. The structure of the daily schedule includes time for editing and writing critiques.

The workshop culminates in a final photo exhibit held in Siena featuring images created by all participants.

The Photographers

Melissa Farlow

Melissa Farlow

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Randy Olson

Randy Olson

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The 2018 Siena Stories Workshop will take place from October 29 to November 2.

To apply, please complete the following online application form. Be sure to include a portfolio with twenty (20) images. Please send it via email to [email protected]

The Application Deadline is July 1, 2018. However, we may accept applicants who meet the workshop criteria as they are received.

Workshop Tuition is €1200 (€1100 if you subscribe before May 1st, 2018). Tuition will be due when you confirm your participation.

Participants are responsible for their own food and lodging while at the workshop. Additional information on housing, the workshop, and the workshop site will be sent upon acceptance of your application.

If you have questions or need more information (or would like to submit payment via check) please contact us via email to [email protected] .


October 29th – November 2nd, 2018


Sala del Senato Accademico
Rettorato dell’Università degli Studi di Siena
Via Banchi di Sotto, 55

Program - Itinerary

Morning: 9:30am-12:30pm - Afternoon: 2:30-6:00pm

Day 1

Introductions and course explanation: Instructors share images from 25 years of various published assignments followed by participants’ portfolio review. The goal is for each photographer to be challenged individually to build on his/her strengths and work on a broader range of experiences to refine personal vision.

Presentation: The Building Blocks of Visual Language. Learn compositional concepts. Practice techniques through a photo shoot around the Siena.

Early evening welcome aperitif to socialize among participants and meet residents that will be photographed later in the week.

Day 2

Morning Review: Feedback/critique of first shoot intended to aid the artist in expressing his/her intentions.
Presentation: The Elements of a Story. Understand the fundamental concepts of building a cohesive body of work, then practice skills in an afternoon photo shoot.

Day 3

Morning shoot: Photograph Siena’s weekly market to refine photographs using advice from earlier lectures Building Blocks and Elements of a Story.
Discussion of participants work followed by Presentation: Photographing People

Day 4

All day photo shoot with various residents from around Siena. The purpose is to build relationships with subjects and to develop a narrative.

Day 5

Edit, critique and create a final photo essay.
End of the day: Final presentation and projection of the photo series made by the entire class. Celebratory farewell group dinner.

Contact us Reservation