During a break on the fall 2012 ACM Tanzania Program, Lawrence University student Abby Guthmann and several other students headed north for a few days of hiking. As they trekked, children often came up, asking to have their pictures taken.
When one pair of girls kept tagging along, Guthmann turned and said to them “Moja tu, sawa?” (One more, OK?). The girls were delighted, and now the photo has been awarded the Grand Prize in the sixth annual ACM Off-Campus Study Photo Contest.
“Girls in the Shambaas” was selected for the top prize from among 109 photos entered in the 2013-14 contest through the ACM colleges’ off-campus study offices. All the photos were taken by current students at ACM colleges while they were studying on off-campus programs around the world, from Thailand to Chile to Spain.
Other photos were awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes in three categories – People, Places, and Cross-Cultural Encounters – and 12 photos received Honorable Mention recognition. Along with creativity and artistry in the composition of the images, contest judging favored photos that demonstrated cross-cultural learning – a student actively engaged with the local culture – and the interdisciplinary nature of liberal arts education.
Fans’ Choice Awards also were given based on “Likes” from visitors to the ACM Facebook page. During the ten-day voting period in early December, hundreds of people went to the ACM website to browse through the entries and cast their votes.
Looking through the full set of photos submitted by students for the contest brings into brilliant focus the breadth and variety of students’ off-campus study experiences. With their cameras, they captured scenes that ranged from sweeping vistas to the precise, compact geometry of a London “Tube” stop to the pristine surroundings of a white-washed church on a Greek island.
The images reveal students’ attention to the daily rhythms of the working world – a tannery in Morocco, a busy fishermen’s wharf in Ecuador – as well as events outside the ordinary, such as parades, weddings, and protests.
Each photo was accompanied by a description to set the context. For her Grand Prize photo, Guthmann recalled the interaction on a path near a small village in the picturesque Usambara Mountains in northeastern Tanzania:
“A group of girls ran laughing towards us, asked me to take their picture, and then proceeded to pretend not to care as I snapped a couple photos. These two girls followed me through the shambaas, hoping to get a few more pictures. I turned around and told them, ‘Moja tu, sawa?’ (One more, OK?) They grinned and clenched their fists with excitement as I took the photo and showed it to them.”
Two of the photos awarded 1st place prizes in the contest were taken by students on off-campus programs in Italy. Megayn Ray from Ripon College wrote that traveling in Venice “reminded me of a make-believe world brought to life. A city floating on water couldn’t be anything but whimsical. My favorite moments in Venice were the moments that I let myself get lost.”
Her picture titled “Venetian Girls” topped the People category by catching a moment when two young sisters wearing ornate masks played together, bringing to mind “that the magical places we dream of as a child will always find ways of calling us back.”
St. Olaf College student Elizabeth Brindley received 1st place in the Places category for a photo that depicted the majesty of the Duomo in Florence as reflected in a pool of fresh rainwater. The fleeting shadows cast by people pausing for a moment to gaze up at the building – the “Passersby” in the photo’s title – contrast with the centuries-old paving stones that provide a canvas for the image.
In the Cross-Cultural Encounters category, the 1st place photo captured the steady, straight-on gaze of a Turkish food seller at a park in Istanbul, regarding the photographer from behind neat stacks of chestnuts arrayed on his cart. “The Late Night Vendor” was one of two photos by Luther College student Imsouchivy (G.V.) Suos that the judges selected for prizes. The other was “The Tannery,” his textured study of Moroccan leather producers at work in their vats, which was awarded 3rd place in the People category.
Suos’ artistry with the camera proved popular in the balloting on the ACM Facebook page, as well. When the results were tallied, Suos swept the Facebook Fans’ Choice Awards, taking 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places for photos he took while traveling and participating in Luther College’s off-campus program in Malta last spring.
The top vote-getter was “The Berber,” a photo by Suos of a pair of tour guides he met in the Sahara Desert, followed by “The Tannery” and “The Late Night Vendor.”
A passionate photographer, especially when it comes to street photography, Suos has taken photos in more than 20 countries during his travels around the world. See his website and this Luther College video for more about his work.
The 2013-14 Off-Campus Study Photo Contest webpage has links to all of the prize-winning, Honorable Mention, and Fans’ Choice photos.
- 2013-14 Photo Contest:
- Off-Campus Study Photo Contest webpage