HIGH POINT, N.C., June 11, 2015 – The Eiffel Tower may be one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks as well as one of the most photographed, but that didn’t stop High Point University rising sophomore Olivia Blandford from finding a new perspective. From behind her camera lens, she captured an abstract photo showcasing the interplay of iron and light from the underside of the tower.
Blandford’s approach is the perfect example of the way students on HPU’s Global Experience trip to France photographed Paris during the “Maymester” course on documentary photography. Their objective: to find a new way of photographing the city while exploring its past and future.
“The students jumped right in taking photos of famous sites, but tried to do it with a different viewpoint and with an eye for composition, color, texture and leading lines, all the things we had discussed in class before going,” says Benita VanWinkle, assistant professor of art, who led the trip. “They really did a great job of editing, learning and photographing Paris from the old to the new.”
While visiting sites like Notre Dame and the Palace of Versailles or going on a scavenger hunt to find the locations of photos taken a century ago by famous Paris photographer Eugène Atget, the students practiced working with natural light, photographing under all weather conditions and tried night photography. Then they worked with their instructors, VanWinkle and interior design faculty member Dr. Elizabeth Dull, to edit and interpret what they had recorded. Dull especially worked to help the students identify the art nouveau architecture, which had its birth in France and Belgium.
Caitlin Maressa, a rising junior and communication major, spent her time photographing Parisians in their daily activities. She also enjoyed photographing graffiti and street musicians. She says the trip enriched her knowledge of the French culture and helped her grow as a photographer.
“I could go on for hours about Paris, but what the trip really did for me was open my eyes,” Maressa says. “It made me think more about other cultures and different lifestyles. I found myself drawn to the style of the Parisians, and I was fascinated by everything they did. One thing I loved about the French culture is how social they are. I really enjoyed the aspect of going to a café for a cappuccino and sitting to take in the gorgeous streets of Paris.”
HPU’s Global Experience programs, also known as “Maymesters,” are short-term study abroad trips led by HPU faculty members. These two- to four-week classes provide exciting opportunities for students to travel in the U.S. and abroad. They engage students in cultures different from their own and connect what they learn in the classroom with relevant, real-world experiences.
This year, students and faculty participating in HPU’s “Maymester” courses traveled to six continents and 16 countries, including Chile, China, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom.