How would you describe the community you traveled with on your photo workshop?
This was the first time I had really traveled without my family, and essentially, with a group of strangers. The whole trip was exactly what I hoped it would be. Our group made friends with each other quickly, and everyone seemed adventurous and excited to do something new. My leaders played every role: friend, teacher, travel agent, temporary parent. They wanted us to go home with great stories and better photos. Our expert, Tino Soriano had unstoppable energy. He was always inspiring his students to create photos that were personally meaningful.
Describe your most memorable experience from your trip.
When we visited the Alhambra in Granada I felt that it was unlike anything I had experienced up to that point in my life. I was overwhelmed, inspired, excited—all of the things that make for great photos and great travel. More than the traveling and the exploring, I loved being with our group. I remember our nightly meetings were hilarious, and a time to reflect on what we had created together.
Nina traveling in Rome.
Where you especially proud of something you accomplished on the trip or a lesson you learned while in the field?
One night, we photographed a class for professional flamenco dancers. It was a fantastic setting and the dancers were beautiful, but my shots were garbage. We took turns moving around the room for different perspectives and lighting, and one corner just clicked for me. The lighting was right, and I could really experiment with the movement and the shot I was trying to get. I took a portrait of a dancer that I am still proud to show today.
Did traveling with National Geographic inspire your college and/or career choices?
Once I finished my trip, I knew that I wanted to be a Nat Geo Student Expeditions trip leader. I was so excited about the idea of traveling and teaching photography. I’ve led student trips in Spain and have worked with over 200 students. During the rest of the year, I work as a professional photographer in Seattle, specializing in yoga and fitness photography and contributing to Athleta’s chi blog as a producer and photographer. I’m so happy to be able to do something I love and feel so passionate about.
Did you meet anyone on your trip that you’ve maintained a close connection to? If so, describe your relationship.
I’ve worked with our Nat Geo expert, Tino Soriano, for two summers as a co-worker. It’s surreal to work alongside someone who has been such an inspiration to me as a photographer and a person. It’s a great full circle moment. He’s not only a world-renowned photographer, but also a genuinely kind, special person. I still like to think of him as a mentor.