My photography changed during my semester there on Paros in a whole host of ways.

First, I learned to slow down and take my time when taking a shot. Maria’s advice had really sunk in, and I would sometimes study a scene for 15 minutes before taking a photograph of it. By doing this, however, I had time to get my aperture and shutter speed just right, and I was also able to anticipate how the wind and lighting were effecting my shot. My process of taking a photo lengthened drastically, but I became a better photographer because of it.

I also became a more detail-oriented person with my manual camera than I ever was with my digital because I spent so long studying my subjects before photographing them. With a manual camera you have drastically fewer shots you can take, and so each one is planned and taken with care, something that I was not used to doing with my Sony.

Another thing that changed during my time on the island was my turning into a night owl who loved working in a darkroom for hours at a time. I found that the atmosphere in the darkroom was calming, a welcome respite from the often-rowdy nightlife that other students in my program engaged in. I would stay in there for hours at a time some nights, softly playing indie reggae music and creating art that made me joyous.

Lastly, practicing manual photography made me appreciate digital photography that much more. I had a few mishaps, both on the island and while traveling, in which my roll of film ended up ruined and all the photos that I had taken were lost. I always knew I had loved digital photography, but learning to take photos with a manual camera made me love it even more. With my Sony I didn’t have to wait days to see what an image turned out like, and I could take as many shots of something as I wanted, not restricted to a mere roll of film.

While digital photography still holds my heart, manual photography taught me oh so much during my time abroad.