Photo by Micah LeMasters, Instructor.
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Hey Summer Alumni,

Don’t forget that Dragons annual 1-minute visual story contest is officially open! See below for contest details, and check out this lovely submission by Lula Alhussein from the Madagascar Summer 2019 Program for inspiration!


Hello Summer Students!

Just wanted to share with you the details of our annual “1-Minute Visual Story” Contest…

The goals of Dragons Visual-Story contest are to:

  • Share visual story through student and in-the-field perspectives.
  • Highlight & offer gratitude/awareness to issues, stories, and people in our community.
  • Encourage more diversity in the perspectives represented by Dragons social media.
  • Offer insight into the Dragons program experience, culture, and character.
  • Encourage tools for story-telling the experience with ethical media creation guidelines.


  • “Visual-Story” can be interpreted as video, photo collage, or anyway you’d like. (Video examples at:
  • Contest submissions should be no longer than 60 seconds, (but see the next bullet…)
  • You CAN submit multiple entries to the competition. As many as you’d like! (Though you can only “win” once.)
  • Ensure that all content in your film/video/collage (including footage, music, images, props, etc.) is your own or that you have explicit permission to use it (audio/video recorded or written permission).
  • For video, minimum 1080p resolution. If you’d like an official/branded opening graphic/title from Dragons, email us.  Personally created graphic overlays and captions are okay. Entries may be in any language or have no dialogue at all. Closing credits not required.
  • Contest is open to anyone with Dragons Summer 2019 Program Affiliation(Students, Staff, In-Country Community Members)
  • Contest questions? Send an email.


  • There will be 3 winners in total. All three winners will receive a Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket with Dragons Logo and promotion of your submission/video with your credits.
  • The creator of ONE entry will be chosen by Dragons to receive a coupon for 50% off a Dragons program tuition that can be used either by themselves or transferred to a friend (Max Coupon Value: $4,000USD)
  • Winners will be announced on October 1st on Dragons Blog and shared via Dragons social media channels.

Ways to submit: You must submit your entry by September 1st at 12pm MST. Submit your visual-story to the contest by emailing the entry to christina@wheretherebedragons with the subject line: “1-Min Visual Story Contest Submission.”  You may email:

    1. A YouTube URL (subscribe to our YouTube channel while you’re there!)
    2. A Vimeo URL
    3. A link to your video on Instagram . Use the tags: #dragonsvisualstory and @wheretherebedragons.
    4. A link to your video on Facebook. Use the tags: #dragonsvisualstory and @wheretherebedragons.
    5. An actual video file or a link to a Google Drive folder where you’ve uploaded the video.

Video/Visual Making Tips:

  • Consider bringing a travel tripod & make sure your camera has enough storage space for footage.
  • Plan your shoot or gather as a group and come up with creative ways to collaborate meaningfully with communities
  • Throughout a project, seek patterns and sets of images that build cohesion.
  • Take the time to set up your shots, removing logos, water bottles, other distracting objects.
  • Choose landscape or portrait mode and stay in one mode. (Landscape is generally the preferred mode.)
  • Clean your lens! Drop solution onto cloth, not on lens, use damp cloth in circular motion, center to edges.
  • Try to optimize natural lighting. Avoid flash. Use tripods in low light. When shooting outdoors, keep the sun behind you.
  • Avoid background noise (wind, crowds, etc.) but also consider recording novel sounds.
  • Frame shots in interesting ways. Fill the frame, consider putting subjects slightly off-center, use angles to point attention.
  • If you move while filming, make sure it’s subtle and slow so your camera has time to focus on each scene as you move.
  • Take several shots of the same scene, from several different angles and distances; wide, medium, close-up, and details.
  • Hold your shots for at least 10-15 seconds after you have stopped adjusting the composition.
  • Time-lapses are great for scenes of prolonged time over an area that’s constantly changing.
  • Keep it simple:  Still shots with moving elements are often the best. If you move the camera, slow pans and tilts are best.
  • Never enable digital zooms; it makes videos blurry.
  • Take your time!  Steady. Calm. Connect with your subjects. Appreciate the beauty!
  • Use IMovie or other software or apps to edit, add sound/captions, adjust filters.
  • Use the audiovisual Release Form on the back of this flyer if/as needed.

Ethical Media Making Guidelines: People have the right to determine how they are represented. If you are taking video of people, seek to collaborate and establish informed consent. Video stories that don’t have people in them are entirely fine and encouraged! If you are taking video of people, consider the following guidelines and speak to your instructors for further advice:

  • Introduce yourself and your intentions to anyone represented in your video. Permission/consent should be free, prior and informed and should not happen until after a non-electronics-based relationship has been established. Consider showing another photo/video and telling them what it’s for, who will see it and why you want to share this image/sound.
  • Ensure the media cultivates a respectful, kind, reciprocal, relationship that is sensitive to local customs and traditions. Consult with instructors for advice on navigating the pitfalls of stereotype-reinforcing, exaggerating, or exoticizing media. Do no harm. Be accountable. Film with integrity. Offer gratitude.
  • Consider co-creation projects/elements by handing camera to others/locals — or even having them interview you! People love to be seen and heard if the exchange/listening comes with respect, equality, and the intention to honor. Offer others the mic and stage. And share the product with them!
  • A lens can help illuminate an experience or story. But it can also act as an unhealthy barrier or shield to hide behind. Seek guidance from instructors on establishing healthy boundaries and practices in your relationship with the lens.
  • “The quality of your product will be equal to the quality of the relationships that make it possible.” -Producer Vanessa Ragone

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