April 6, 2015

Guest Blogger Series: Learn How to Make the Most of Picturesque Paris

As part of its Guest Blogger Series, WICE welcomes Member and Volunteer Isabella Grepp to share her experience in the Cultural Studies Department’s Online Communications Workshop series.

I was invited to spend an afternoon with one of our newest courses here at WICE, the “Smart Devices as Tools of Creative Expression” series. From these seminars, participants discover how to maximize the use of their smart phone and its camera.

Living in a foreign country is a special experience, something to remember throughout a lifetime.

My great aunt lived in a large number of countries during her younger years. Today, she is close 90 years old, but she still tell us tales of being an ambassador’s wife in places such as Libya, Hong Kong, Nigeria and many more. What if she had the same opportunity of sharing her special moments and beautiful views as we do today? To think of how many of those beautiful memories would be lost forever the day she is no longer with us!

In today's technological society, we have the option to capture that beautiful sunrise we see through our Parisian window every morning; instantly capture a once-in-a-lifetime moment you pass on the street; even share our everyday lunch! What is even more amazing is that we can instantly share them with our loved ones we left back home, and they can share familiar moments of their lives. Today, we are lucky in that we don't lose our memories and what we loved.

The problem many of us have is that all this new technology is still quite foreign to us. It’s a jungle of different phones out there, all with many different functions and applications; and having to dig into and learn all this can see quite daunting.

This is where Nancy Jochimek and Alastair Arthur come in. Nancy has a long background in communications, including social media, public relations and branding. She is a strong believer in the new ways of communication and wants to help people learn how easy it can be to share their memories using everyday tools. Alastair Arthur is a world-renowned portrait photographer and his work has been featured on the front page of Fuji X magazine. Armed with knowledge in both photography technology and art, together, they form a strong team.

We started the course by meeting at the WICE Office in the 15th, close to metro La Motte Picquet Grenelle. We were a decent size group composed of all different nationalities and time spent in Paris. It is quite funny and different to see my classmates with their phones in their hands, as it is usually something that is forbidden in class. But in Nancy and Alastair’s class, it is all about the phone. We go through all the different functions of Instagram – the filters, their names and how they can be used. “What was the best funcion of ‘Earlybird’ again?”

Alastair then presents us the challenges of the day: He has made a 4-level challenge, where only the truly brave will reach level four.
1. Take a selfie with a creative touch.
2. Take a photo of someone else
3. Take a candid street photo of someone else
4. Ask to take a street portrait of a stranger.

We then exchange numbers as we plan on splitting up into two groups – one for a more general overview with Nancy and one more advanced together with Alastair. But first we head over to the metro and travel to the famous Bir Hakeim bridge. It is a grey and windy day and we wander across the bridge together, taking many photos of both the surroundings and ourselves. Selfies are a must at a location like this!

After half an hour we eventually split up into smaller groups of five, where I tag along with Alastair and the other lovely ladies. We walk across the bridge to Passy, where you have beautiful architectural views of homes as well as over the Eiffel Tower and the Seine. Here we met a professional photographer and he was happy to stand model for us as he worked. We also experimented with different angles and shapes of photos as a way to capture what we want to show the most in a picture.

As our ears started to turn red from the cold wind, we slowly started to walk back towards the 15th and Beaugrenelle. On our way there we passed the tiny Île aux Cygnes and The Statue of Liberty.
We met the other group at a café and discussed our photos of the day. Over tea and coffee, we shared what we had learned of the different photo editing apps you can download to your phone . Alastair recommended Snapseed and Tinttype. The first is a version of Photoshop, made for smartphones by Google, and can help you edit your photos in more ways than Instagram on its own. The later imparts a vintage feel to your photographs, making them more personalized.

Overall it was a great day and the students took many beautiful photos, most of which can be seen on Instagram under #wiceparis. There will probably be another workshop series starting again before the summer. They’re not to be missed!