The Perfect Mix

We started as 13 strangers in late June and now, after five short weeks, I consider all of these people my friends. I believe our group had the perfect mix of personalities in it. I cannot believe the study abroad program has come to an end and I have to say goodbye to a majority of the group. Although, I will never forget the laughs we’ve shared and the memories we’ve made.


Howard waves goodbye as he and Kathy leave after lunch

We finished the program with a farewell lunch at a delicious Italian restaurant after our critique wrapped up. I will miss the critiques because so many suggestions were always made about everyone’s photos and I learned so much.

From what I have observed, everyone in the group has developed as a photographer, including myself. I have taken so much away from the speakers, but especially the words they have spoken about determination. To be a photographer, you have to be committed and persistent. I will try my best throughout my life to have these qualities so that I can be the best photographer I can be.

This study abroad program has taught me to push myself as a photojournalist. It has helped shape the way I see the world visually, and has provided me with what I hope are lifelong friends. I could not have asked for anything better.









Eye in the sky

Last night we rode the London Eye, and the view was incredible. I thought that London would look similar to Paris from that high in the air, but they looked surprisingly different. Although they’re both large cities, I felt that London had a smaller sense and that the city didn’t run on forever. After the London Eye ride, some of us walked to the Old Blue Last pub. This was a pub that Shakespeare used to hang out in, and it also used to be a brothel. Knowing all of the history, it was hard to pass up. All in all, it was a wonderful night.

The London Eye at night

The London Eye during “blue hour”

Best of Britain

On Sunday the group was exposed to some of the best things about the United Kingdom: Stonehenge, beautiful villages, and a traditional British meal. To make it to Stonehenge for sunrise, we left the hostel around 4 a.m. and drove for about 2 and 1/2 hours.

Howard seen in the rear view mirror at the front of the bus while traveling during the day

Howard seen in the rear view mirror at the front of the bus while traveling during the day

The long drive was well worth the amazing sight of Stonehenge. Days before we visited, I did not think that I would be as blown away as I was by one of nature’s greatest mysteries. After experiencing it, it is hard to describe such a beautiful sight.

Myself pictured in front of Stonehenge

Myself pictured in front of Stonehenge

We then visited the town of Salisbury and the village of Lacock. They were both quiet towns, but filled with beauty. We were allowed to look around the Salisbury Cathedral, but photography was not permitted inside of the Cathedral. We also drove to Lacock and visited it’s main attraction, the Abbey. It was fascinating to be in such an old building with so much history, but also great to have walked through the same hallway as Harry, Hermoine, and Ron did in a few Harry Potter movies, as the Abbey was used as Hogwarts in some scenes.


The courtyard of the Abbey of Lacock that was used to film scenes in the first two Harry Potter movies

After finishing up at the Abbey and roaming around town, we sat down for a traditional British meal, which we all enjoyed.

Some of the group during lunch in Lacock

Some of the group during lunch in Lacock

Once we were dropped off at our hostel in the late afternoon, many of us chose to take a nap. It was a long, but very fun day, and my favorite day in England thus far!



Au revoir, Paris!

I woke up stunned that it was already our last day in the city of lights. It seems like just yesterday that Darcy and Jim led us down the streets of Paris for the first time to our hostel. Now that we’ve finally mastered the metro system, we’re already packing up and heading to London.

This morning I made some final photo choices and last minute edits before the critique in the early afternoon, like many others in my room. The critique went well because it seemed that we all made our opinions clear about each other’s photos. We gave advice on what could work better next time there is a similar photo opportunity, and pointed out what we liked about the photos. Howard even told us that he enjoyed the commentary that was being exchanged between us and that we were a lively group.

After the critique wrapped up in the late afternoon, Kristen, Marisol, Mandy, and I visited the Musee Du Louvre. We made it our goal to first see the Mona Lisa and then work our way around the museum. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to see all of the artwork in the few hours we were limited to due to our plans we made for the night.

Photo taken by Marisol Dorantes. Outside of the Musee Du Lourve
Photo taken by Marisol Dorantes. Outside of the Musee Du Lourve
The man who was singing right in front of our group on the way to the Eiffel Tower in the metro
The man who was singing right in front of our group on the way to the Eiffel Tower in the metro

A majority of the group met under the Eiffel Tower to eat our last dinner in France together. We sat in a circle on the lawn near the Tower and talked about how it’s so hard to believe we’re leaving France, and our excitement for arriving in London, among other random topics. We left after seeing the lights on the Tower twinkle at midnight. It’s hard to leave such a beautiful city, but the program is not over yet, and there much more to see and fun to be had! Au revoir, Paris!

The lights twinkling at midnight on the Eiffel Tower
The lights twinkling at midnight on the Eiffel Tower

Pursue Your Passions

The Eiffel Tower at night

The Eiffel Tower at night

Our first full day in Paris could not have been any better. We started the day by heading to the apartment of Jim and Millie Casper. Jim was the man who started the website, Lens Culture, and our speaker of the day. He told us all about his life prior to moving to Paris and pursuing photography, as well as his life now. His wife, Millie, also told the group many stories of their life before Paris and their current lifestyle as well. The couple were both very kind-hearted and willing to share so much information about their lives, which made the morning very enjoyable for all of us.

The main point that I took away from listening to Jim speak was to always pursue your passions in life. Jim had two well-paying jobs before he decided to explore photography. Even though his salary was high, his spirit was low, as he mentioned he was never happy until he chose to follow his dream. I took this to heart because my dream of becoming a professional photojournalist is bound to have ups and downs, but if I pursue it, I will be doing what I love: talking to others and telling their stories visually.

After we left Jim and Millie’s house, we ate lunch and then met with Howard and Darcy to split into two groups for a tour of our neighborhood. In my group, we talked about project ideas that could be found in our neighborhood. After chatting, I have a few ideas in mind, but have not chosen a specific topic to focus on yet.

Once the tours were over, we met back at our hostel and relaxed before dinner. After we ate, about half of our group (including myself) chose to take the metro to the Eiffel Tower. We arrived at sunset and were able to see the twinkling lights on the Tower just minutes after.  We waited in line for quite some time until we finally made it to the very top. Once we were there, I could not grasp the reality of the situation, and being so thankful that I had the opportunity to be in such a beautiful place doing what I love.

Although it was unfortunate that we missed the last metro ride back to our hostel, it was a fun experience riding back in a taxi. The driver was crazy, but he returned us safely to our hostel, and that is all that matters. Overall, I had an amazing day, and I’m sure Paris will just keep getting better!

Sergio Larrain

Sergio Larrain


– Retrospective

– Église Sainte-Anne

This exhibition is based off of Larrain’s entire career, from his early apprenticeship years to his “Magnum years.” He agreed to display documentary images to freer images and drawings. I enjoyed viewing this exhibition the most because the documentary photos captured my attention. The entire time I knew that he was passionate about what he was taking photos of and wanted every aspect of the subject he was covering. He had a lot of variety throughout his photos that made me want to see more.

I am very interested in photojournalism, and after seeing this exhibition, I am even more passionate about it.  I am conscious about adding variety to my own photos, so this exhibit taught me why that is important. A viewer wants to see life from all different perspectives. He not only has wide shots, but he has medium shots and detailed, close-up shots.

I am interested in the way that Larrain tells stories with his photos as well. He finds emotion on a subject’s face and draws the viewer into the photo. Some say that photojournalism is a dying profession, but Sergio Larrain’s work shows viewers why it absolutely should not be. Larrain’s photos make is seem as though he wanted to show others how the world really is and how he saw it himself. He found a way to make his photos intriguing and almost beautiful even if he was in a developing country.

Not all people can be as confident behind the lens as Sergio Larrain, and I am proud to say that I viewed his photos.


Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh, Rozenn Quéré

Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh, Rozenn Quéré


– Possible and Imaginary Lives

– Location: Parc Des Ateliers

This collection of photos is particularly unique because it tells the story of four sisters who are exiled to four different parts of the world.  It is somewhere between documentary and fiction, biography and drama, based on family photographs and taped interviews.

This exhibition is a reflection upon ways of gathering information and making stories emerge. It is an attempt to convey the imagination of the four women, trying to give their imagination the same status as reality. The two photographers were not aiming to write their story, but to create their myth.

I thought this exhibition was interesting because our project in Arles could relate very well. We chose a concept, and it did not have to be complete reality. We tried to imagine a story or point to prove through photographs and would then pursue it, using friends as models or people off of the street to stage a photo.

I am personally not one to stage a photo myself, but this exhibition shows that it works if one has a brilliant idea in mind and a plan on how to create their vision and make others interested. The picture frames around each photo make the viewer feel that the story is real and that no part of it was produced from the minds of the photographers.  The amount of photographs scattered throughout the exhibit made me feel as though I was in one of the sisters’ living rooms rather than an exhibit. DSC_3844