Stepping outside of the classroom and traveling across the Atlantic, 20 Black Hills State University students and two professors gained advanced photography knowledge and an experience of a lifetime. For the first time, BHSU offered a unique course, “ART/MCOM 492: Iceland Photography Excursion” that allowed students to travel abroad to Iceland for 12 days.
Stepping outside of the classroom and traveling across the Atlantic, 20 Black Hills State University students and two professors gained an experience of a lifetime with a unique course, “ART/MCOM 492: Iceland Photography Excursion” that allowed students to travel abroad to Iceland for 12 days.
During their time in Iceland, BHSU students not only toured the vastly diverse countryside but an academic agenda was made to stroll through the historic areas of Dimmuborgir (the “Dark Castles”) and Seyðisfjörður, enjoy whale watching, and trek among steaming vents and colorful lava formations.
BHSU photography professors Jerry Rawlings and Skott Chandler challenged the students to take photographs beyond the “normal” tourist snapshots. Luna Brooks, a double major in photography and environmental biology from Rapid City, says Iceland has always been on her bucket list, so she decided to sign up for the opportunity.
“Honestly, the trip was a really great cultural experience. It encouraged me to pursue what I want to do with photography and the direction I wanted to take with both of my majors,” Brooks adds. Post-graduation, Brooks wants to become a park ranger. Visiting Vatnajökull and Snæfellsjökull National Parks and experiencing different approaches to land management in Iceland helped further her motivation to pursue her chosen career.
With the challenge from professors, students were encouraged to find new angles and approaches. Brooks explains, "They wanted us to come back with work we were really proud of. So as individuals we could make our own way in the world of photography by attempting new things."
As a graphic design major, Rapid City native Sydnee Dormann says the trip enhanced her graphic design skills and confidence. “I felt a little outside of my element, but Skott teaches in a way that helps build confidence in my ability as a photographer which I can apply through my designs,” Dormann adds.
The trip proved to be more than just a vacation but beneficial for all students. With days packed with learning experiences from sun up to sun down, students developed professional relationships that will last a lifetime.
An opening reception for their exhibit in the BHSU Ruddell Gallery was held Sept. 5, and is currently open to students, faculty, and community until Sept. 22.
To view a video about the students’ Iceland experience produced by Chandler with contributing footage from Rawlings, visit www.YouTube.com/BlackHillsState
About the BHSU Photography Program
BHSU is proud to have Canon USA as a sponsor of the photography program. Through Canon's generous support BHSU photography students have the opportunity to use the latest camera equipment and digital printers available.
BHSU has among the finest darkroom and digital imaging facilities in South Dakota and the surrounding region with three black and white and color labs, a film developing area, and an imaging lab. The digital imaging lab is complete with multiple Mac computers, scanners, and various large format and desktop printing stations. Students also have access to a 2,000 square foot commercial studio and a new alternative silver and digital printing lab.
BHSU now offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts for photography. The BFA offers many opportunities to students interested in photojournalism, commercial photography, or fine art photography. BHSU continues to offer the photography emphasis as part of a mass communications degree as well.
For more information about the BHSU photography program, visit www.BHSU.edu/Photography
or contact Jerry Rawlings at Jerry.Rawlings@BHSU.edu