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Torsten Kjellstrand

MMW 09: Mar 2011

Torsten Kjellstrand has supported a documentary photography habit, and his family, by working as a newspaper photographer for more than two decades. He’s been on staff at The Herald in Jasper, Indiana, The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, and is now on staff at The Oregonian in Portland, Oregon. And immigrant from Sweden, he is still fascinated by the surprising and wonderful mix of cultures and peoples in the United States. He’s worked on projects on Native American Communities in The West, small towns in the Midwest, on a project on African-American farmers in the Mississippi Delta and many more. He has recently gone part-time at The Oregonian so he can spend more time on the longer documentary projects that lured him into visual storytelling in the first place.


Torsten participated in the March 2011 MediaStorm Storytelling Workshop. He had the following to say about his experience:


I came to MediaStorm thinking that I needed to learn technical stuff - how to use microphones and DSLRs and software and whatever new gizmo just fell from the sky. I did learn a lot about those crucial tools, but the most important thing that happened during the week was that my love, and enthusiasm, for visual storytelling woke up and came out to play. I haven't been as excited about my work for years and years. It's hard to believe until you see it, but the MediaStorm team really does want us all to get better, to tell real stories, thrive, succeed, smile like we’re in love. I think our whole team did just that: fall in love with storytelling all over again.

The MediaStorm folks expected and celebrated going into our complicated world to discover real people with meaningful stories, tenderly gathered and truthfully told. They also expected us to work really hard - and they matched our efforts by working every bit as hard. And that's the other thing about this workshop: you learn how important it is to be an effective, respectful member of a team. It was incredible to work not only with the big heads at MediaStorm, but also with talented storytellers from other parts of our world. It's simply fun to work alongside people whose work is so good it makes the hair on the back of your neck dance with joy.

This workshop is the antidote to the dumb-it-down journalism taking over too much of our profession. MediaStorm convinced me that we have to master our new tools because doing so makes us better, more sophisticated, more robust conduits for stories that matter.

The Amazing Amy by Espen Rasmussen, Terje Bringedal, Torsten Kjellstrand and Finn Ryan

Using humor and a love of fantasy, "The Amazing Amy" Harlib connects with audiences through performing strenuous yoga-based contortion acts in New York City.