Gaining cultural perspective through a camera lens
In the age of digital photography, Katriina O’Kane is a film holdout. Because of the higher cost of supplies and processing, she must carefully consider every frame when taking photographs during her travels.
“I think a lot before I click and search for beauty in my surroundings. I try to capture a feeling, and in order to do so, I have to figure out what inspires that feeling. So in that way, photography helps in my discovery of cultures and places I find myself in,” says the third-year physical geography student.
Ms O’Kane captured the life and colour of Kathmandu in June 2009 during a stopover en route to a volunteer placement in Pokhara, Nepal. One photograph from that trip, “Bright Cultures,” won the People and Culture Category of the 2010 Queen’s University International Centre International Photo Contest.
Ms O’Kane has travelled extensively and always with a camera close at hand.
“Each place provokes a different emotion or has a different characteristic that stands out. I like taking pictures to preserve those memories of my journeys,” she says.
Nadine Compton also uses photography to gain a better cultural understanding when she travels. While volunteering in Tanzania in Grade 12, Ms Compton was told by her guide that pictures of people were not allowed because of cultural beliefs. However, some young students wanted their pictures taken and she agreed only after getting the permission of their parents.
“This experience proved to me that culture can be fluid, dynamic and, ultimately, a little bit flexible,” says Ms Compton, a third-year Global Development Studies student, whose picture from that trip won the 2009 QUIC International Photo Contest.
The annual photo contest showcases the numerous student international experiences at Queen’s.
“The contest is a wonderful opportunity for both Canadian and international students to convey some of the valuable experiences they have had both abroad and in Canada,” says Rowena Selby, the education abroad coordinator at QUIC.
Submissions for this year’s contest will be accepted until Friday. The contest details can be found online.