An online experience in visual journaling, Once Upon a Time: Photographs have Stories to Tell, is a series of three online workshops offered by Kim Manley Ort and Sally Gentle Drew. The next session begins February 27th, 2017 and is now open for registration. You can sign up for one, two, or all three four-week sessions.

Here’s the Premise

We want to help bring to life a world where people live – and photograph – from a place of wonder, possibility, enchantment, and beauty; grateful for the miracle of life. How you see or interpret any type of visual or written art can give you clues as to what’s important to you and how you connect with the world.

In this workshop:

TSEliot* You’ll equip yourself with tools in the form of visual journaling exercises that are playful and fun. These exercises will engage your curiosity and imagination, and you’ll marvel at how each photograph’s magic reveals itself.

* You’ll practice as part of a safe and supportive community where everyone is encouraged to be themselves; in fact, the community is an integral, inspiring and compassionate part of the process. We help each other uncover the messages in the photographs shared and collectively delight in the ‘voice’ emerging from each participant.

* You’ll discover that your favourite photographs, even those that you might not care for, have messages to bear and stories to tell.

After the workshop ends:

* You’ll decide which visual journaling practices work best for you and make a plan for continuing the process.

* You’ll have greater confidence in creating and sharing your photographs and in articulating what they mean to you.

* You’ll be more self-aware as your thoughts, emotions and photographic voice become visible in the photographs you create.

These three months have been a most transformative time for me. I have loved photography since high school and I was always trying to figure out the technical aspects. But I never tried to figure out what a good picture was and why. What type of photography was mine. Why certain images moved me and others did not. I had not even thought of the underlying reason those images taken by others had moved me. This course was able to bring new insights into the nature of photography. It was now possible to say what type of photography I wanted to do, the emotional valence it evoked, and most of all why. I like reflective, abstract, contemplative photography that lies at the heart of visual poetry. Now after this wonderful session a direction has emerged!

Tom Marino

Tom Marino Photography

I feel a profound shift has occurred. I’m engaging with and embracing the world, but I’m also reflecting on it. In short, Visual Journaling has empowered me: to honour who I am. That’s not a throwaway comment. My confidence has been enhanced: I am taking better photographs and I’m writing about them. I had hoped to learn how to do the latter, but I had not nursed expectations that the former would be true, also.

Sophia Roberts

Participant in the 2015 Session

Transformation is a journey and a return. The path is filled with ruts and mud and pull outs. Not instant. Not sweet and easy. In terms of this course Once Upon A Time, although I had long ago explored these ideas and thought I had been transformed, I discovered that I had lost touch with much of the light during a time of painful, personal darkness. For me, the primary effect of the assignments in this course was the beginning of the cracking of the ice surrounding my heart and the understanding that I could be transformed should I choose to do the work required.

Dan Meylor

Participant in the 2016 Session

In 2017, we’ll be offering three distinct 4-weeks sessions, with a week off between each. You are welcome to sign up for one, two, or all three. During each session, there will be a weekly focus and exercise, with three emails per week (on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). While the sessions build upon one another, each is distinct on its own. Choose the one that most interests you.

The price is $125 USD per session OR sign up for all three for $350 USD (a $25 savings).

The Three Sessions

Session 1 – Introduction to Visual Journaling Practices (February 27th – March 25th)

  • You’ll choose 10 or more images to work with throughout the workshop.
  • You’ll write about your photographs using simple exercises.
  • You’ll identify the concept of your photographs by exploring symbols, metaphors, word associations and visual design.

Registration is closed. Session completed.

Session 2 – Exploring Meaning and Heart in Your Photographs (April 3rd – 29th)

  • You’ll explore the role of imagination and creativity in your photography.
  • You’ll discover meaning through storytelling and poetry (haiku).
  • You’ll identify the emotional pull in your photographs through exercises that help you to see with the heart.

Registration is closed. Currently in session.

Session 3 – Emerging Voice and Vision (May 8th – June 3rd)

  • You’ll practice using exercises that will uncover themes and patterns in your photography.
  • You’ll determine the five core words that define your photography.
  • You’ll identify 5 core photographs that represent your vision and you’ll write a personal statement.

Note: Sessions 1 and 2 are not pre-requisites.

Meet Your Workshop Facilitators


Once upon a time, in a land called Scotland, a girl named Sally was born. Her family moved to many wondrous places, including various cities in the United States and Canada – and this experience nurtured a life-long feeling of ease in new communities.

Sally’s love of reading and writing led her to develop her education in English Literature and over the years, she brought her gifts of communication and compassion to such services as human resources, event planning, and marketing and communications. The miracle of being a parent brought out natural abilities in healing and creation; gifts she continues to explore and engage with to this day.

Sally has an inner Magical Child, who sees things others often miss and she is getting braver at sharing that wonder with others. For this workshop, Sally will bring her gifts of written communication, sensitivity to tone, context and nuance, identification and interpretation of symbols, appreciation for the power of metaphor, and the noticing of patterns, themes and seemingly disconnected dots that, when connected, tell a meaningful story. She is discovering a love for photography as a conduit for capturing beauty and revealing messages and stories that inform, lift, and heal the heart.

Once upon a time, Sally wished for a magical experience in a wondrous community – a magical experience, like this …


Once upon a time, a young woman named Kim left her homeland of Canada for a 25 year adventure living in the United States. While there, she discovered a passion for photography that sparked an inner flame that has never wavered. Kim’s camera serves as a portal to ‘seeing’ life around her in beautiful new ways. With presence, skill and mindful attention, Kim (along with her husband, her dog, and her camera) returned to Canada in continued exploration and discovery of the wonders of contemplative living.

For the past six years, Kim has been creating and facilitating online and in-person workshops; inviting all who feel a call to have their cameras lead them to fuller presence, expanded seeing and photographic technique. This year, she self-published her first book.

Kim will blend practiced organizational and facilitation skills, her love and passion for photography and her background in visual design to this workshop experience. She firmly believes that reflecting on what we’re drawn to in photography can bring greater self-awareness and confidence. She wants others to see that they have something unique to offer the world, their community, and themselves.

Once upon a time, Kim wished for an experience that would help others see the brilliance inside of them, an experience such as this …

Learn More about Visual Journaling


A Tool for Self- Discovery – Here is an example from my photographs, as well as a downloadable worksheet for you to work with.

What’s Your Line? Lines as Symbols in Photography – An exploration of the meaning of lines and what they mean in my own photography.

Photographs with Soul – tell a story or express an emotion or universal theme.

Frequently Asked Questions


  • How many participants will be in this visual journaling workshop? We will be capping the number of participants at 25.
  • What is the price for this workshop? $125 USD per session or $350 USD for all three.
  • How do I pay? Payment is made through PayPal and you can use a credit card through PayPal if you wish. If you would like to discuss other payment options, please email me at kimmanleyort@mac.com
  • What if I am away at some time during the workshop? You’ll be able to reflect on the topics and assignments wherever you are. However, if that’s not possible, the emails will be waiting for you when you get back. And, you can always catch up with the discussion at the Flickr group.
  • Will you be offering this visual journaling workshop again? Yes, beginning February 27th, 2017.
  • Is there homework? There will be photographic and other simple writing exercises each week. These are fun assignments for your own personal growth. There are no deadlines and there will be no grades. Like most things, it is up to you what you do with it. It will be to your benefit to upload photos and participate in the discussions.
  • Will I have access to the lessons when the workshop is over? You are welcome to keep or print the emails sent.
  • How is the content for the workshop delivered? You’ll receive a welcome email and links to the private Flickr group and private course page. Then, you’ll receive emails and assignments on each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We’ll be doing the workshop right along with you and sharing our experiences and photos.

Contact me below if you have unanswered questions.

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