Dordt College News

Student photographers take NYC by storm during spring break

August 17, 2011

“I had a wild dream that I would take my advanced photo students to New York City,” says photography professor Doug Burg.

“You know how your wildest dreams usually don’t come true? This one did.”

Burg’s dream was born when he visited his son in New York last fall. He shot a few pictures on the street, but since he was visiting with family, he wasn’t able to dedicate his time to shooting. Still, when he showed those pictures to his photography students, they responded positively, and the seed for the trip was planted.

Burg enlisted the help of René Clement, a professional photojournalist, to serve as a mentor to the photography students. Although Clement is originally from the Netherlands, he has lived in New York since 1998 and is very familiar with the city. He has a wealth of professional experience including photographing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, and other international locations. He is also no stranger to Northwest Iowa: his most recent project examines the Dutch heritage of Orange City, Iowa. 

With Clement’s guidance and expertise, Burg and eight Dordt photography students hit the streets of New York March 10-16.

“We had kind of a fuzzy plan for what we would do each day,” explains Burg. Clement had chosen general locations for photographing, but the students were also given a lot of freedom to find their Advanced photography students (bottom, left) Lindsey Folkerts, Kelly Campbell, Aanna Stadem, Jordan Edens, (back, left) Ellie Dykstra, Zac Edens, Keith Roghair, and Martin De Jong captured thousands of images during their spring break in New York City.own shots.

Senior Kelly Campbell explains, “We were all taking pictures of the same buildings and landscapes, so it forced me to look at things from different angles and to notice things I wouldn’t necessarily notice otherwise.”

Clement brought the group to many different areas of the city: Staten Island, Times Square, Canal Street, Wall Street, and Brooklyn Cemetery, to name a few. Sophomore Aanna Stadem appreciated the many different environments in which to take pictures, noting, “You would never guess New York City could vary so much between nature, city, poverty, and wealth.”

The students snapped pictures continuously, reaching up to 1,000 pictures a day. Despite the large quantity of photos, Burg and Clement also encouraged high quality. Stadem explains, “I learned the importance of capturing that one image that’s a winner, rather than taking a hundred pictures of the same thing until I get what I want.” Because they held critiques of each other’s work throughout the week, the students were forced to be discerning with their shots.

The critiques also helped the students to learn from each other and their mentors. This allowed for not only tremendous growth but also encouragement and pride in the final products.

The students’ ownership of their work continued as they prepared for the exhibit, which opened April 26. They printed their own work and mounted their photos in the art department’s gallery and the surrounding halls of the classroom building.

“This trip made me love photography even more that before,” notes Stadem, “and I learned more from this experience that I ever could have guessed.”


“We got to see things tourists don’t normally see, and I really valued the knowledge and perspective of a professional photographer.”
–Zac Edens

“Even when we weren’t taking pictures, we were thinking about images.” –Jordan Edens

“I liked catching the small details of New York and finding my best images when I least expected them.” –Ellie Dykstra

“I love taking pictures of people and trying to tell a story from what I capture.” –Kelly Campbell

“We were in Union Square Park, which was full of people, and we split up to find shots. That’s when I found this kid just going back and forth on the sidewalk. I think he saw me, and he got really excited because of the camera. I really enjoy all the emotion, expression, and feeling that you can sense from a face.” –Lindsey Folkert

“We were walking around Times Square on our first night in the city, and it was raining. I think this picture really represents New York with all of its energy and color. Being able to photograph the city was really exciting, and I learned a lot about composition and framing.” –Keith Roghair


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