september, 2020

27sep10:00 am12:30 pmVisual Narrative and Your StoryPresented by Visual Thinking Collective

Event Details

Members of the Visual Thinking Collective will present a workshop geared toward the mid-career photographer. Presentations will focus on building editorial skills and will consider an array of issues, including the elements of the visual narrative, researching and pitching story ideas, exploring your photographic identity, sustaining and editing long-term projects, marketing your abilities, and working with clients.

Session 1. Lauren Steel and Shannon Simon
The first session will discuss brainstorming and pitching story ideas, and how to stay focused on your intentions and goals for a project. Lauren and Shannon will also examine long term project ideation and development, how to create and build your brand, and how to market yourself, and work with both editorial and commercial clients. They will also explore the value of finding a mentor or colleague to share the creative process.

Session 2. Sarah Leen and Elizabeth Krist
Sarah will start by presenting foundational ideas about the elements of visual storytelling and how editing begins while photographing in the field. She will show various projects to illustrate her ideas. Elizabeth will do a deep dive on one National Geographic story, looking at how it came together in the editing and sequencing. Through dissecting a set of images frame by frame, photographers will better understand how to build a narrative.

The morning workshop will end with Q&A.

Our Online Workshops are proudly supported by our partners PhotoWings with additional contribution by the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation.

Featuring: Sarah Leen, Shannon Simon, Lauren Steel, and Elizabeth Krist



Sarah Leen

Sarah Leen became the first female director of photography for National Geographic Partners Photography and Visual Media in 2013, leaving in 2019, to launch the Visual Thinking Collective for independent women visual editors, curators, and teachers. For nearly twenty years she worked as a freelance photographer for the National Geographic magazine until 2004, when she joined the staff as a senior photo editor.

Leen teaches photography and photo editing workshops at the Eddie Adams Workshop, Maine Media Workshops, Santa Fe Workshops, and the PhotoLux Festival in Lucca, Italy.

Leen was most recently the photo editor on the 2020 FotoEvidence World Press Book Award recipient Habibi by Antonio Facciolongo, and the National Geographic book Women: The National Geographic Image Collection. She is the primary photo editor for the VII Photo Agency’s visual series America, Again published on Medium. Leen mentors individual photographers on long term projects, and with contest and grant proposals.

Shannon Simon

Shannon Simon is the founder and director of Mantle Projects, a creative development and production company based in New York. For nearly four years Shannon was the global content director, and director of the Americas for Magnum Photos, where she managed a global content and editorial team, as well as the New York office. She previously held roles as the photography director for Interview Magazine and was a photo editor for The New York Times Magazine. For almost a decade she worked with multidisciplinary artist Taryn Simon, developing and producing projects, exhibitions, and publications. Shannon is currently a contributing photo editor for The New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Lauren Steel

Lauren Steel, a founding member of the Visual Thinking Collective. She is a visuals consultant for photographers, brands, media, agencies, foundations, and nonprofits, to craft authentic visual narratives. She is currently a contract photo editor at The New York Times, and she recently curated two floors of office space in Hudson Yards with compelling, socially relevant imagery from around the world. Previously, she was director of photography at Verbatim Photo, a subsidiary of Getty Images that she co-founded in 2016. Lauren was a part of the rebranding and launch of Getty Images Reportage, where she started the Emerging Talent program. She was at Getty Images for fifteen years. Lauren has collaborated with award-winning photographers to produce exhibits, photo-books, and campaigns worldwide. She has guest lectured at International Center of Photography, School of Visual Arts, and Columbia University, judged numerous photo competitions, and regularly reviews portfolios for various workshops around the world.

Elizabeth Krist

A National Geographic photo editor for over twenty years, Elizabeth Krist is a founding member of the Visual Thinking Collective. She is on the board of Women Photograph, helps program National Geographic’s Photography Seminar, and advises the Eddie Adams Workshop. She curated the Women of Vision exhibition and book. Krist teaches for the International Center of Photography and La Luz. Honors include awards from POYi, Overseas Press Club, and Communication Arts. She has reviewed for The New York Times PHOTOPLUS, and the Eddie Adams Workshop, and has judged for the Lit List, The FENCE, POYi, Ian Parry, Getty Instagram, and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards.



The Visual Thinking Collective is a community of creative independent women committed to visual storytelling. We believe in sharing our knowledge through collaboration and mentorship, and supporting the visual community.

Help us maintain accessible programming for all by supporting us & our photographic community!


Visual Thinking Collective