Goodbye, Barcelona!


It’s hard to believe but we are already done! Oh what photographers we have created! Their talents were showcased tonight in our gallery show, visited by friends, family, and the general public. Everybody was surprised at the caliber of photography, and our students really enjoyed the evening as well. But tomorrow we are already flying back home, so we already are saying our goodbyes to beautiful Barcelona. But we will always cherish the memories of this evening. Here are some photos of our memorable night.


Students learn how a gallery show is hung.


Laura next to a portrait of herself, by Christina Hastings.


Tino Soriano and Emily next to Emily’s gorgeous photo.


Visitors flooding the Barcelona Visions gallery.


Crafton and Alexia with their photos.


Kelly with her photo.

We would like to thank all of the Nat Geo Barcelona participants for their enthusiasm and dedication. This trip was great, because YOU were great. You were an awesome group to work with, and we wish you all the very best in your future endeavors.

All our best wishes,

Kate, Michelle, & Gaston

Spa Day!

So that was the secret…to soothe sore feet and achy shoulders, everyone got to relax in a spa today. It was so much fun to see the look on the students’ face when we arrived at the spa. So many gasps and squeals! Then for most of the rest of the day, we worked in groups preparing for our gallery show tomorrow. One group is curating the show, another one is working on marketing, and the third is organizing the reception. That means we did not take so many photos today after all…but we still have some pics to share, of course!


Nina, Sadie and Sylva.


Jorie and Beatrice feeling tropical.


In case you wondered what our diners for 30 look like. Imagine also a lot of laughter, and often signing too. For real.

And we unfortunately don’t have a photo of the day today, since our students have been working hard until late, and haven’t had time to send photos over. But to compensate here is a photo by our National Geographic expert Tino Soriano, of expedition leaders Kate and Gaston, striking their best super-model poses.


Photography in High Places


Photo by Alexia L.

Our work hit some new highs today altitude-wise! The Pyrenees were our goal, and Mother Nature cooperated too. To avoid absolute exhaustion, a bus drove us up to the top of a mountain, and we hiked about three miles down to the village of Castellar de n’Hug. The surrounding scenery was gorgeous, and the alpine meadows were covered in colorful wild flowers. Other than the cow patties we often had to step over (some of us more successfully than others), it was an idyllic setting for a hike and for photography.


Climb the mountains, avoid the cows!

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the village doing a photographic scavenger hunt, playing soccer, swimming, or just enjoying the mountain air. It was refreshing to enjoy temperatures much lower than in scorching Barcelona.


A local dog gets the attention of all our Nat Geo expedition participants.

What do we have in store for tomorrow? Huh… it’s a secret. Even the expedition participants don’t know yet…what could it be?

Our Photo of the Day today is from Emily! Congrats!  By the way, we’ve been putting more photos from the expedition participants on the blog, and we are thrilled to see the work they are creating. The authors of the photos are mentioned underneath. (If there is no author mentioned, the photo comes from one of the leaders.)


Photo by Emily V.

Ready for the Show


Ella, Emily, Laura, and Sydney melding into the decorations at La Perdrera.

Like yesterday, today was mostly spent behind the computers, editing, critiquing, toning, and cropping.  Photos for our gallery show had to be selected today, so they can be printed and hung by our opening date Wednesday. And we did it!  We are all ready for the show!

But we didn’t deprive ourselves of Barcelona sunshine long, as we went for an evening excursion at La Perdrera, one of Antonio Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces. The highlight for everyone was wandering around the fanciful structures on the roof, which serves as chimney hatches and air vents. It was a great place to practice portraiture and architectural photography.


Tania at La Perdrera.


Jordan and Anu at La Perdrera, with la Sagrada Familia in the background.

Tomorrow we hit the mountains, and we are looking forward to slightly cooler air, as well as some great new settings for photography.  But before we leave you, here is our Photo of the Day, by Carolyn M., an evocative portrait of a photographer in the village of Besalú.  Congrats, Carolyn!


Photo by Carolyn Mason.

Hitting the Computers


Nat Geo Barcelona students busy editing photos.

Sixteen of us started very early today, waking up at 5:30 AM to be on the beach before sunrise. Good photographers all know that the best light is early in the morning and late in the evening. Instructor Gaston offered some tips on how to maximize morning light, and offered short tutorials on using flash and reflectors as well. Some great work came out of our morning excursion, including these beautiful photos by Christina H. and Anna M.!


Photo by Christina H.


Photo by Anna M.

For most of the rest of the day, we hit our computers, since already tomorrow we have to select our photo to print for the exhibit. With the help of our instructors, and by supporting each other too, our students are gradually narrowing down their best photos, and preparing them for printing. Then in the evening we went to watch the locals enjoy one of their most cherished traditions, dancing La Sardana in Barcelona’s Cathedral Square.


Locals dance La Sardana in Barcelona’s Cathedral Square.

Our Photo of the Day today is by Phoebe B., and was captured when we were surprised by a short thunderstorm in Girona. Congrats, Phoebe!


Photo by Phoebe B.

– Kate, Michelle, & Gaston

Learning from History


Sometimes you go out looking for history, and sometimes history catches up with you. We’ve experienced both today. Students had the chance to visit some beautifully preserved medieval cities, Girona and Besalú. Girona was a big hit with some as many scenes from “Game of Thrones” were filmed there, and Besalú had its own unexpected surprise in store for us. What was to be a short stop ended up being a lesson in the history of photography. At the entrance of the city, a photographer with an antique large format camera offered to take our pictures. Students then got to experience how difficult it was in the early days of photography to snap and develop a photo. They keenly followed along with every step of the procedure. And then, they were able to finally hold the printed photo in their hands, something that we don’t often enjoy anymore.


Alexia, Nina, Charlotte, Ella, and Kieran learn about the inner workings of a large format camera.

And today, the winner of our Photo of the Day is Anu C., with a photo of the sun setting over a lake in Banyoles, home of our National Geographic Photo expert Tino Soriano!  Congrats, Anu!


Photo by Anu C.

Happy Birthday, Anna!


Anna’s sweet sixteen!

Anna M. celebrated her sweet sixteen today with all of us in Barcelona! Such a bright young woman deserves a party. We wish her the best for this year and for all the years coming ahead.

We did have a lot of fun today, but only after spending nearly four hours in the classroom, learning about photo composition and about photo editing software. Work before play, of course! It’s great to see how rapidly our students are catching on.

We can’t let their new photo skills go to waste, so we brought them to a place that is both fun, and photogenic, at the Tibidabo amusement park, the highest point in Barcelona.


Emily, Laura, Anna and Carolyn in the Tibidabo ferris wheel.


Britanny, Leeza and Camryn in front of some of Barcelona’s gorgeous architecture.

The amusement park is also the subject of our first Photo of the Day for this blog! From now on we will post at least one photo a day from the students. Today’s featured photos is from Morgan, congrats!


Photo by Morgan Prettner.

– Kate, Michelle, & Gaston

Practice Practice Practice!


Students capturing the beauty of Figueres.

You know the saying — “practice makes perfect” — and it applies to National Geographic Student Expeditions as well. After a couple days of learning about photography, the students had great opportunities to practice today, as we visited the towns of Figueres and Cadaqués, following the footsteps of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí.

After admiring Dalí’s dedication to his arts, in a museum the artist built for himself, the students had the chance to create art of their own, under the direction of our instructors. The 25 students spread out all over the small town of Cadaqués, photographing the streets, the beach-side bathers as well as friendly cats and dogs. Most used the opportunity to dive into the Mediterranean Sea as well!


Christina, Camryn, Alexia and Carolyn practice portrait photography in the streets of Cadaqués.


NGSE Barcelona students taking a dip in the Mediterranean Sea.

We are very impressed with the progress the students are already exhibiting in this short time, and we can’t wait to see the great work that is going to grace to walls of our gallery show in Barcelona next week. But most of all, we really enjoy everyone’s positive attitude and readiness to laugh. We are having fun, enjoying each other’s presence and learning to create great photos at the same time. Who can ask for more?


National Geographic expert Tino Soriano goofs around with Phoebe.

– Kate, Michelle & Gaston

Discovering Gaudí


Here we are, all of us, enjoying the warmth and the beauty of Barcelona. What a day we’ve had! After a morning discussing as a group our hopes and expectations for this trip, we jumped into a few hours of instruction from our National Geographic expert Tino Soriano. Then, our heads full of inspiration, we headed out to visit the architect Gaudí’s masterpiece, the still unfinished Sagrada Familia Basilica.

And what a splendor it is. It should be everyone’s goal to visit the Sagrada Familia at least once in their life. The students were awed by the experience, some standing with mouths agape, some other snapping as many photos as possible. This was a wonderful opportunity for our instructors to help the students deal with the exposure challenges of a high-contrast environment. Then walking through the city, our students had lively, laugh-filled interactions with the locals, and they attempted some street photography. We can’t wait to see some of the fantastic images our students have created today.

Tomorrow we are looking forward to learning more about another famous son of Catalonia, Salvador Dalí, as we take a day-trip to Figueres and Cadaqués. Stay tuned!

Here are few portraits below of the students as we explored Barcelona. It’s a fun bunch we have here!


Tino Soriano helps Brittany.

Photographers of tomorrow Ella, Charlotte, and Morgan.

Photographers of tomorrow Ella, Charlotte, and Morgan.

Sydney Kaufmann and Emily Vogel in the Sagrada Familia.

Sydney and Emily in the Sagrada Familia.

– Kate, Michelle, & Gaston


¡Estamos Aquí! We Are Here!


Tino Soriano leads the Nat Geo Barcelona students through a walking tour of the city.

Without too much difficulty, we pulled off the logistical feat of gathering 22 students from all across the USA at New York City’s JFK airport, to fly to Barcelona, Spain! Then, three more students met us in Barcelona, and here we are — 25 students, three group leaders, and one National Geographic expert, all excited to explore this magnificent city.

Day one equals jetlag, but our photo workshop students soldiered on until the evening, anxious to discover more about Barcelona. Our photo expert Tino Soriano took all of us on a long walking tour of the city center this afternoon, and his main lesson for day one was, just for this once, to leave the cameras at the residence. He challenged the students to feel the place first, look at it with their own eyes first before doing it through a camera lens. This, Tino feels, will help the students approach the city with more of a sense of wonder and purpose, instead of just rushing to get standard postcard shots.

The evening ended with a tapas dinner that left us all holding our bellies in delight. Tomorrow we will start the day with photo instruction, and are very much looking forward to visit Gaudí’s legendary Sagrada Familia in the afternoon. Greetings from all!

– Kate, Michelle, & Gaston