As I sulked alone at home, the heartstrings tired, I wondered what would come from a relationship gone sour. Most people just fed me feel-good buzzwords about some hypothetical “growth”. That is until a close friend invited me to a photo shoot with him and a few other friends. I decided to go and have some fun, even if it was out of my element. A cool Autumn breeze filled the space between the buttons on the flannel I had bought just for the occasion. With pumpkins to the left and sunflower stalks bowing towards the sun to the right, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing and giggling like a much younger version of myself. Posing for the camera was awkward and clunky for me, but I went with it, miming my friend and the others that came with us. But, nothing compared to grabbing the camera for the first time. I had never used a DSLR(Digital Single Lens Reflex) before and had to stop myself from taking pictures of everything I saw. As the small, yet genuine compliments came rolling in about the photos I took, I felt the camera becoming an extension of myself. I felt genuinely happy as I got home and looked through the photos that I was able to take. I looked online for a starter DSLR camera and ordered one right away. I started with simple things such as, walking around the park, and Rutgers campus, just trying to learn as much as I could. I then took a class at Rutgers specifically for digital photography and editing, and I enjoyed every moment.
Then came the big opportunity. My friends and I wanted to make the summer of 2019 special. We were all going to be in graduate school or working full time the year after so we wanted to do something memorable, while we had the chance and we were fortunate enough to have done it before the COVID pandemic hit.
We shared a file folder with a few friends and deliberated on the guests, the itinerary, the weather, the culture, the food, everything we could. And that’s how “Japan 2019” came to be. Not only was this going to be my first time out of the country, but it was going to be an amazing time to do photography. With all the fantastic architecture we were going to see, I made sure that I bought a camera bag sturdy enough to stand up to the trials and tribulations of an international flight. Immediately after finishing my last final exam I drove home and made final adjustments for the flight that I would be taking in less than three hours. And after two weeks we returned exhausted and joyful. My camera was filled with memories and some of my favorite scenes.
Next came an opportunity to head to Greece through a Rutgers study abroad course called “Lifestyles of the Mediterranean”. Again, I was provided an international experience to harbor my photography skills. Of course, there was so much else to these two trips and to almost everywhere else I brought my camera to. Not only was it a way to take some pictures that people thought looked good but, it was a way to capture a scene, an instance in time. It was a lens into the lives of people walking through Kyoto or a stray dog laid on his back on the cobblestone streets of Nafplio, or even a small Rose bush on Livingston campus. Rutgers not only kept me connected to the people who have led me down this path, but gave me opportunities, in and out of the classroom, to work on this newfound passion of mine.
-Albert MAE ‘20