Let’s face it: your best shots so far include a familiar background and a handful of killer selfies. But once you go abroad, all of this will change. Sure, everybody loves a good landscape shot – but get a little creative and try to see things from a new perspective! The first step — getting away from home and away from your norm — will open your eyes to all the differences (subtle and not so subtle) between your home culture and your new adopted culture. This is when you really begin to notice how malleable and fluid the world is; how light reflects when hitting different surfaces; how the movement of people can influence a shot; or even how a touch of zoom can change the way you remember the moment forever.
The first noticeable change will begin with your focus; when you’re abroad there is so much to take in that you will inevitably want to capture it all. You will be running around with your DSLR (or smartphone – we work with what we’ve got) causing pedestrian traffic jams trying to capture anything and everything: from a charismatic local during their daily routine to a wall drenched in some of the finest local graffiti. Your desire to remember it all will leave you with well over 5,000 shots of every aspect of your experience in just under 4 months.
Those of you who have been abroad know that the streets are filled with moments waiting to be captured, but it’s all about getting the right frame and muting the unnecessary. Sometimes, some background noise can frame the main event, but other times it can really ruin an otherwise marvelous moment. You know that the nonna kneading raw dough for pasta in the restaurant window makes for a stellar shot, but that overflowing dumpster in the background will ruin the shot. No worries, though – now you’re a pro and your eye has been trained. You’re skilled at capturing just the right amount of frame to seize these intimate memories. Or that shot of the Pietà in St. Peter’s that you wouldn’t miss for the world, but you’re standing on your tiptoes behind 30 strangers, zooming frantically or exploiting your shutter speed in an attempt to drown out those protruding tufts of hair currently sticking into the bottom of your frame.
Going abroad opens your eyes to a new world, and in doing so you become exponentially aware of the little beautiful instants in life that you had previously taken for granted. These moments will translate to your photography – and the photos you take home with you will keep your study abroad memories alive forever.
“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson
Shelby Leigh Bradley
JCU Class of 2016
Hometown: Clinton, New York, USA