Most people think photography is just about capturing pretty things, and while it is, it can be so much more. It can teach you about yourself and the world around you.

I took a film photography class as an elective my first semester of college. It consisted of about 12 very eclectic personalities and an Italian professor that was a little bit crazy. One rainy day during the first week of classes, our professor took us outside to the small covered area right by the door of the classroom and told us all to look in a certain direction. “What are some things that you can see that are beautiful?” he asked. We all stared blankly at the wet parked cars and the parking garage behind them. When he realized the lack of responses, he started to pick on people. “How the street lights shine on the raindrops?” someone said unsurely; “How the parking lot is a dark contrast to the white clouds in the sky.” someone else nervously mentioned. We all stood there unsure of what he was talking about for about 20 minutes, until finally, he started pointing out things that none of us would have ever noticed. He said, “Has anyone noticed how the puddles on the concrete look delicate and dainty, like glass, or how the dying palm tree over there is filled with such beautiful shades of green, yellow, and brown?” I realized that, even though he was kind of crazy, he was right. There was a beauty in this thing that, otherwise, would be considered gloomy.

After I left class that day, I started training myself to see the world in the same way my professor did. I started noticing beauty in everyday things. I noticed how pleasant raindrops look on plants and how colors everywhere contrast each other. I saw the world as a more beautiful place. I began to take my camera with me everywhere I went because I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to capture something amazing. My mom would sometimes watch me take pictures and tell me not to waste my film; she didn’t see certain things in the same way I did. Whether we know it or not, we are surrounded by art.

As the class went on, we began to critique each other's pictures every other week. Every time we did this, I’d learn so much about each person in the class and we’d all grow closer. I realized that everyone’s life is so incredibly unique. People photograph the things that they love and the things that are closest to them, so I really learned a lot about their lives through just 10 pictures every other week.

I believe everyone should take a photography class because the way you see the world and the people around you changes. You stop seeing your life as dull and begin to search for beauty in everything you do. You become aware that the people who surround you have their own passions and appreciate them more.