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Passion for Photography Pays Off with 1st Place

Passion for Photography Pays Off with 1st Place March 14, 2016

Madeline Huff took a lot of photos when she was in Italy last fall on the ACM Florence program.

“It’s my passion and I love being able to document my experiences,” said Huff, which is not surprising since she is majoring in studio art with a photography emphasis at Coe College.

The Blessing by Madeline HuffThe Blessing by Madeline Huff

Her passion has paid off, as one of her photos has won 1st Place — along with the check for $350 that goes with it — in the 2015-16 ACM Off-Campus Study Photo Contest.

The striking image, which Huff titled The Blessing, captured the statue of a saint, back-lit by sunlight streaming into the centuries-old church of Santissima Annunziata from above. She took the photo during a field trip for one of her classes on the program.

“We were standing behind this statue and the surreality of the radiating light caught my attention,” Huff wrote, “as did the way his hand is permanently raised to bless his viewers.”

According to Huff, her interest in photography led her to explore Florence in greater depth during her fall semester there, especially when she saw how tourists tended to congregate in the same spots to snap pictures of the city’s famous sites.

Madeline HuffMadeline Huff

“Seeing all these people taking the exact same photo motivated me to do it differently, so that I could still document my experiences while making my photos uniquely mine,” she noted. “For the same reason, I often sought out places that were ‘off the beaten path,’ to take photos of and experience parts of the culture that the tourists probably weren’t experiencing.”

The Blessing topped the field of 95 photos submitted by 35 students who participated in ACM programs around the world during 2015. Four other students were awarded prizes for photos they took in Tanzania, the Czech Republic, Costa Rica, and Jordan.

  • 2nd PlaceSerengeti Stars by Grace Brandt (St. Olaf College, sociology/anthropology major). She took her dramatic nighttime photo during the six-week field research phase of the Tanzania program.
  • See the winning photos and all the photos submitted to the 2015-16 ACM Photo Contest!

    3rd PlacePrague by Abbey Thomsen (St. Olaf College, art history major). While traveling during a break in the London & Florence program, she photographed residents enjoying themselves in the Old Town Square of the Czech capital.

  • 4th PlaceFelicidad by Erin Burk (Colorado College, environmental science major). On an excursion with her host family on the Costa Rica program, she took the photo while observing a celebration in a small farming town.
  • Fans’ Choice AwardLiving History by Karla Lorena Huaman Ruiz (St. Olaf College, political science major). Her photo of the Roman ruins at Jerash, taken when she studied on the Jordan program, received the most “likes” from visitors to the ACM Facebook during a week of voting for the award.

The annual Off-Campus Study Photo Contest, now in its eighth year, celebrates more than 50 years of collaboration in off-campus study among the ACM colleges.


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