Seeing Barcelona through his lens

Mount Tibidabo, overlooking Barcelona. Photos: Charles Gonzalez for the University of Miami
By Charles Gonzalez

Mount Tibidabo, overlooking Barcelona. Photos: Charles Gonzalez for the University of Miami

Seeing Barcelona through his lens

By Charles Gonzalez
Charles Gonzalez, a junior in the School of Communication, traveled to Barcelona this summer for a photography workshop.

My name is Charles Gonzalez and I am a junior at the University of Miami double majoring in Motion Pictures and Electronic Media. 

I grew up here in South Florida and started taking photos and videos in my freshman year of high school. I heard about this trip to Barcelona from my professor, Jim Virga, and being that it was a photography workshop in an amazing city like Barcelona I knew I had to go.

I wanted to take this trip to better my craft of photography, as well as learn the culture of this new city. Most of our class time was spent taking photos in rural areas of town, as well as local hotspots such as the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell and The Magic Fountain at Montjuic. Other portions of class were focused on editing photos and critiquing each other’s work. We also kept a journal for every day of the trip talking about our experiences and how we were seeing our photography improve throughout our time there.

We had a lot of freedom and were able to go out and explore the city and take control of our own ideas and places we wanted to shoot. We also took a group trip to Madrid during one of the weeks we were there, and being able to travel with your classmates is a great experience. We also had the weekends free to either travel or explore the city and take photos. 

Some of my favorite things to shoot were the different events going on in the city while we were there. We went to a human tower festival where people climbed up on top of crowds up to 40 feet in the air. We also visited a parade with people dressed up shooting fireworks in the streets. 

All of these unique cultural experiences were some of my favorite things I did during my time there. Barcelona is a very safe and easy city to find your way around. Ninety five percent of the places we went we either walked or took a short metro ride to get there. We were lucky enough to be a small group and be placed into apartments in a very local area right in the city.

A typical day in Barcelona for us was spent shooting somewhere with the class and then an opportunity to go shoot alone later in the day if you chose to. Some of my favorite experiences from the trip were when I got to decide where I wanted to go and shoot. The trip as a whole was a great learning experience, not only for my professional life as a photographer and videographer but for being immersed in a new culture. 

I know very little Spanish but if you have a positive attitude about it and do your best to communicate people can see it and they reciprocate that effort. Being in another country for a month you really start to feel like it’s your home. Studying abroad is a life experience that you can’t get by going on a vacation or a short trip. Being there and working on a portfolio makes you see more, and experience more than you ever would just by visiting a place. I would highly recommend any study abroad program for that reason.