The Grand Cayman Islands have beautiful beaches, a variety of ocean life, and is one of our featured OGO blog articles this week! Ohio University students work with an alum who is a professional photographer and gain experience in fashion and water photography. I was able to ask a few questions to one of the students who went there this year. I had the opportunity to ask questions to a few of the students who went. Mack, who is a junior studying Commercial Photography (with a social media certificate), was happy to answer a few of my questions. Kasey Klug is a senior from Dayton majoring in Commercial Photography with a specialization in sociology. Nicole Dinan is also a senior studying Interactive Design and minoring in marketing. Wagner is a junior and is from Amelia, Ohio, a suburb near Cincinnati.
Q: What professional skills did you develop during the trip?
Mack: The professional skills I learned from this trip were being a team lead which involved leading a team of photographers, assistants and models as well as assigning roles, gathering products and making sure they got to/from Cayman and distributing final photos to the client and models. Something very valuable I got to experience was working one-on-one with a client who is a working professional in the "real world" which is something you can't experience in a classroom.
Nicole: During this trip, I developed my project management skills by being a team lead for one of our clients. I reached out to the client to set up the shoot and communicated back and forth with the company and the models to get everything ready for the shoot. I learned a lot about the logistics and preparation that go into a successful photo shoot.
Kasey: I was the team lead for the Margaritaville pool floats shoot. Throughout this trip, I learned a lot of valuable lessons. For example, I learned that in order for any shoot to be successful, you have to learn to problem-solve. Not everything that you plan for will happen accordingly, but it is important to figure out solutions to those problems instead of simply giving up. Building relationships with models and clients is also extremely important and communicating with your team is crucial for bringing to life the vision of the client(s). I was able to develop communication skills as well as work on editing and shooting techniques. I also learned the value of working as part of a team. It’s okay to ask for help!
Q: What are your career interests/goals?
Mack: My career interests are working at a publication or working in the creative part of a company. I originally was only interested in fashion and beverage photography but after being a team lead for O'Brien Waterski I have expanded my interests to water spot photography.
Nicole: I am planning to start my career as a user experience designer after graduation. I am interested in working with user testing and website design.
Kasey: I am interested in quite a few different kinds of photography, but as of right now I am hoping to work in a fashion field doing mostly commercial work for clients. However, I am also interested in the forensic photography field.
Q: How will you use the Cayman experience to help achieve those goals?
Mack: One part of the Cayman experience which is extremely beneficial is the content you get for your portfolio. I would have never been able to get photographs I did in Ohio. Being able to say that I was a team lead and also a primary photographer for 4 different companies photoshoots makes me stand out from the rest. Having this experience on my resume and in my portfolio will help me immensely in finding a job/internship.
Nicole: My experience in Cayman taught me a lot about project management and working with people. It helped me get a better understanding of the workflow and processes that photographers go through, which will help me have a better understanding of the content side when I am working on web projects.
Kasey: I will use this experience to help achieve my career goals by applying problem-solving to every shoot I do. I will also use my communication skills to ensure that my deliverables match the vision that the client has. This program taught me that work can be fun and the more passionate you are about a shoot, the better your images will turn out.
Q: What was an unexpected part of the Cayman Island experience?
Mack: Something unexpected on this trip was learning more about myself and how I operate in the field. 90% of the time everything went as planned for the shoots but there was another 10% where things didn't go as planned and you had to adapt quickly. Through this, I learned what skills I am good at and what I need to work on.
Nicole: Everyone we met on the island was so nice and welcoming. I didn’t know what to expect from the local people we were working with and I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming and helpful they were.
Kasey: An unexpected part of the trip was swimming with stingrays and scuba diving. We got the chance to go on multiple excursions over the course of the 10 days we spent in Cayman and we had a lot of fun. We rented a boat and spent the day on the water. I even got to kiss a stingray for 7 years of good luck!
Q: Any good stories from your time there?
Mack: So for our shoot for O'Brien Waterski we planned a shoot on the beach to photograph the products (lifejackets, still photos of water skis, etc.) but I also wanted a boat to that we could pull someone behind using the O'Brien skis. After a couple of months of searching and talking to different contacts, I had been given I finally found SWS Cayman which is a charter company. They told me they would pick us up on the beach right outside of our hotel but what I didn't know was that we would have to go into the water at the waist with all of our gear to get onto the boat. My other two teammates and I were carrying at least 10 life jackets, a pair of skis and all of our photography equipment above our heads while the waves crashed against us and the boat. Its something I look back at now and I laugh about but at the time I can remember panicking when I underestimated the height of a wave and it came crashing into my camera bag (everything was fine in the end).
Nicole: On one of our excursion days, our program advisor rented a boat for us and we got to go swimming with stingrays, snorkeling at a coral reef and swimming with starfish. It was an unforgettable experience!
Kasey: There were a lot of good stories from the trip but the one that stands out the most would be New Year's Eve. All ten of us spent the night at a beach club called the Royal Palms. It was a great experience and I made a lot of new friends. We were able to have fun and see fireworks on the beach. I was fortunate enough to spend my birthday there as well and we all went to Margaritaville restaurant for dinner, it was a lot of fun!
Q: What was your favorite part of Grand Cayman?
Mack: I guess I could say my favorite place on the island was Smiths Cove. Smiths Cove is a beach with a lot of rocks which makes it a great place for marine life to inhabit and snorkeling was beautiful there.
Nicole: My favorite parts of Grand Cayman were the crystal clear water and all the local restaurants we got to try. There was a great variety of food and drinks everywhere we went and you can’t beat the beach views! My favorite parts of Grand Cayman were the crystal clear water and all the local restaurants we got to try. There was a great variety of food and drinks everywhere we went and you can’t beat the beach views!
Kasey: Georgetown is a beautiful town, right on the ocean. Everything is relatively close and easy to navigate and it is very safe.
This is part of the Office of Global Opportunity series. If you are more interested in these types of programs, check out the site here!