Inside USD

Toreros Picture Paris Firsthand

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It’s typical for University of San Diego students participating in a study abroad program to take photographs as a keepsake of the journey and places they visit. Surely, this summer is no exception as Torero undergraduates are studying and exploring in countries such as China, Jamaica, England, France and Turkey.

But for one particular summer class, delving into a foreign culture requires mandatory visual images. An upper-division course, Digital Photography, is being taught in Paris by Duncan McKosker, a professor in USD’s Department of Art, Architecture + Art History. During this course, McKosker has students immersing themselves in the culture but doing it by observing Paris life through digital photography.

Students are given the opportunity to be flexible and creative in their picture taking with the incorporation of Adobe Photoshop to produce descriptive digital prints. The Paris program differs from others where students usually lodge with a host family.

One USD student, Kirsten Crowe, explains how the experience differs from living with a native family but does not take away from the experience.

“Every day I walk from my sweet little apartment that I share with three other fellow photography students and go about my business as if I were native to this wonderful city,” she said.

Students go on field trips to document their experiences through photographs. The group explored the Luxembourg Gardens, one of the largest public parks in Paris, the Trocadero, and Paris’ largest cemetery, the Pere-LaChaise, where notable figures as The Doors’ singer Jim Morrison and writer-poet Oscar Wilde are buried. The group has been immersed in Paris’ vast art culture. They’ve visited museum and gallery exhibitions such as the Musée d’Orsay, the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson that’s dedicated to photography and also the European Museum of Photography.

The history of photography and its connection to the French culture dates back hundreds of years. The USD course incorporates the history of photography to give students a good background of the art form and its overall connection to Paris.

“Our time spent in the classroom for printing and learning about great French artists is fantastic and before we know it we are out on the street photographing and taking in the city,” Crowe said.

In 1826, Frenchman Joseph Nicéphore Niépce was credited with the invention of the first permanent photographic image. Niépce partnered with a Parisian, Louis Daguerre, on the photographic invention process. Students have familiarized themselves with other famous photograph contributors as well as those in the contemporary photography world.

While the course is only a month long, students are being exposed to an exciting and rich culture that they’re free to explore.

“Living and photographing in Paris has been nothing short of a dream come true,” Crowe said. “Though this class is only a month long, not only have I experienced a genuine taste of French life and photographed the most beautiful city in the world, I have made memories that will last me a lifetime.”

Ann-Marie L. Auger-Andrews ‘12

Photos by Kirsten Crowe ‘13. Follow her blog at

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