Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody

In Prague, photography students learn a new way of seeing the world.

Every summer for the past decade, UT photojournalism professor Dennis Darling has taken a small group of students to Prague for a monthlong documentary photography course. He says that the proliferation of smartphones and digital cameras has made his role more challenging. “Because now it’s so easy to just press a button and make a picture, a lot of them photograph everything but look at nothing,” Darling says. “What I’m trying to do is switch that.” Before setting his students free to roam the streets, Darling encourages them to take fewer—but more thoughtful—photos. In weekly critiques, they learn to consider composition, lighting, and sense of place before they snap the shutter.

Each student chooses one shot to post on their daily blog alongside an extended caption on Czech culture. Their photos are due at 10 p.m. sharp—and because the majority of students are not journalism majors, it’s the first time they’ve had to work so quickly. “It takes them a while to get into the groove, but then they really get into it,” Darling says. “There’s a certain rigor about having to produce something every day on deadline.”

That rigor is balanced with the dizzying freedom of having one of Europe’s greatest cities as a classroom. Centuries-old architecture, cobblestone streets, and sidewalk cafes invite wanderers—making Prague the perfect place to slow down and look around. —Rose Cahalan

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Photos (from top): A child rides a tramvaje, or tram, in Prague; John Grewell

Photo by Claire Schaper

A street performer blows bubbles in Prague’s Old Town Square; Ye Jin Kim

Kitchen staff clean up for the night at a restaurant in Cesky Krumlov, South Bohemia; Taylor Rice

Newlyweds in the courtyard of St. Vitus Cathedral; A store-owner sits behind the counter in his antique shop; Claire Schaper

A store-owner sits behind the counter in his antique shop; Claire Schaper

Photo by Kelly Coles

 

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