New breath of life in photography

Dwayne Mactavious - Online Editor

Dwayne Mactavious – Online Editor

Dwayne Mactavious

Imagine spending the first five weeks of summer touring parts of Europe, taking photography classes with a renowned European photographer and visiting museums in the Scandinavian region that brings you face to face with art pieces you were only previously able to experience in books.

Imagine all that and you would have just taken a peek into the experience I had upon taking advantage of the “Summer in Sweden” exchange program through Missouri Southern’s art department.

The 17-hour trip across seven time zones from Houston, Texas, to Paris, France, was long but good.

It was great to have arrived safely and get settled in our hotel rooms.

Upon discovering the lack of connectivity via cellular phones and our laptops’ wireless internet, we were disappointed about temporarily having to go without the sense of security you get from and give to your family by contacting them to alert them of your safe arrival in a new country.

After resolving that small situation, we were able to get a bit of rest and look forward to enjoying the next few days of actually being in Paris!

It was interesting to see how small cars and hotel rooms were and how much graffiti there was. I took quite a few photos of some extraordinary graffiti artwork.

Our four-day tour of France took us through the expansive Louvre, the breathtaking Notre Dame Cathedral with its amazing display of stained glass, Napoleon’s Tomb at Invalides and eventually to the Eiffel Tower, where we took “too many” photos.

Later that night, we took a boat ride past most of the sites we saw during the day.

But by night I was even more awestruck by the beauty of the city and literally had to remind myself that it was all real, that I was actually in Paris.

After our four days in France, we continued on to Sweden, where we spent the majority of the remainder of our trip.

I had the honor of working with renowned European photographer Orjan Henriksson once again.

Orjan is such a wise and intelligible professor and he really helped me to infuse a new breath of life into my photos.

Two major lessons I learned from him were that your photography is supposed to be personal shots that are of some significance to you, and your photography is not bad as long as its execution is intentional and you communicate your message.

Sweden was so naturally beautiful and it presented many opportunities to take the nature shots I love so much.

Travelling to the Kalmar Castle and various museums in the Scandinavian area on the weekends was quite the indescribable experience.

The most memorable place to me was Copenhagen, Denmark, where my good friend Ulla is from. She was able to give us quite an extensive tour of parts of the city.

We visited a type of hippie community called Christiania where there was an awesome display of graffiti artwork on practically all the buildings.

If the daytime tour was not enough, the nightlife was even more memorable.

The first night we enjoyed the entertainment at a local karaoke bar and even sang a few songs ourselves, ending our performance with “Thank you, Copenhagen, we love you!”

The last evening we spent at the Tivoli amusement park, where we later listened to the smooth jazz sounds of a band and performer and then took in a play that was a tribute to the works of fairytale author Hans Christian Anderson.

Back in Habo, Sweden, Ulla showed us her farms and many apartment properties.

Having taken this trip, I was able to reconnect with some of the Swedish friends I met at Southern and make a few new friends as well. Overall, the trip was definitely not only an amazing opportunity but also the experience of a lifetime and I would encourage any art student to pursue it before their college career is complete.