Exploring Ohio Through Photos

Hocking Hills State Park

1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. 

My STEP Project took place from May 1st – July 31st of this year, and it involved me learning the art of photography and exploring different areas of Ohio to create my own photography portfolio. Over the course of three months, I captured moments of cultural, environmental, and historical significance while practicing new photography techniques and camera settings.


2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

Through this project, I was able to explore more of Ohio than ever before. This changed my view of the state because I realized that there is so much more history and tradition than I have seen from campus.

This trip was also an amazing opportunity to explore an art form that is very technical and complex. It was exciting to see the progress in the photos I took at the beginning of the project compared to those I took toward the end. I learned so much about myself spending hours in gardens and at historical sites playing with settings and trying to capture the exact photo that I envisioned. I have a new appreciation for angles, positioning, and lighting and how each aspect interacts with the others to create unique interpretations of the same scene. While this project was short, I am looking forward to continuing to explore cultures around Ohio and the rest of the world through similar self-guided trips in the future! I owe this new confidence to the life experience I gained during this STEP project.


3. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?

Traveling around Ohio, it was interesting to see how culture impacts all aspects of life; I loved exploring new cultures in food, buildings, art, and nature. Exploring new areas and meeting new people introduced me to identities and experiences that I have never interacted with before. I met a number of other photographers while out on trips, and I was able to talk to many of them about their techniques and interests. While hiking in Hocking Hills, I had an opportunity to meet a young honeymooning couple with the same camera as me. As we talked, I was even able to show them some of the techniques I had learned in my photography classes to get better portrait style photos!

I also really enjoyed the opportunity to work one-on-one with my mentor during this project. It was nice to have an expert to talk to as I searched for a camera and lens that would be easy to work with and suit my photography interests. I was also nice to be able to show someone else my progress and get advice on new ways to frame a shot or play with natural lighting. Our discussions really helped me to learn from my mistakes and improve my speed and technique, and they were a huge factor in increasing my confidence behind the lens.

The photography classes I took over the course of this project also served as a great tool as I explored my camera and how to take advantage of certain subjects and lighting scenarios. While I initially planned to take a different set of in-person classes, that program filled up quicker than expected. To rebound from this situation, I found a similar set of online courses offered that were designed specifically for the camera that I purchased. What started off as a setback quickly became a highlight of my experience because I was able to watch and rewatch the class lectures as I became familiar with every knob and button on my camera. It also found it very helpful to rewatch lectures about certain subjects before going to each site. This allowed me to remember and apply the advice given from the lecturer during each shoot.


4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?

My main goal for this project was to be able to rekindle my love for art through photography, a medium I was never confident that I could pursue. This transformation is significant to my life because I now have a new outlet for releasing stress and taking time for myself. Art, photography in particular, is therapeutic because it allows us to look at the world differently. As I stood behind the lens of my camera, I often found myself paying attention to details that I don’t normally notice in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

This experience was also socially expanding because I built relationships with people of varying ages and backgrounds. This was transformational for me because I had the opportunity to become more confident in my ability to connect with new people and learn from their experiences – a skill that I will be able to use in my future personal and professional life.

The Columbus Park of Roses

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