John Freeman shares student audio slideshow projects

John Freeman's study abroad students staying up late in their Berlin hotel editing images and audio into Soundslides.

Photographer and University of Florida professor John Freeman takes students to Berlin, Germany every May for a two-week study abroad program. (See previous post on Oct. 3.) One takeaway from the program is a finished Soundslides project telling the story of a person who has moved to Berlin to pursue a passion. Through their photography and interviews, the students explore such questions as: How is life in Berlin? How do you put the pieces together to achieve your goals? What’s your average day like? The cumulative projects, posted on the Berlin program website, convey the spirit of a city that has intrigued Freeman for many years.

When teaching Soundslides software to the students before they leave the States, Freeman likes to use past student projects as examples. Here are two favorites.

1. In this Soundslides audio slideshow by Katie Osborne, Russian musician Nikolay Tarasov found a new calling as a restaurant musician. He arrived in Berlin 23 years ago to “make some music,” mostly rock, but also had to make a living working in a hotel. The chance to sing Russian pop, folk and international music in a restaurant dance hall introduced him to a new frontier. “I found out I’m the perfect restaurant musician,” he told Osborne

As for the photography, Osborne found exciting visual patterns and light moments in settings that to a less observant person might have appeared mundane. Professor Freeman likes the way Osborn edited into the piece a quick sequence of Tarasov’s footwork as he moved across a stage floor

The audio slideshow as a whole captures the colorful vignettes of Tarasov’s world. “What I like about Berlin is, it has this special spirit,” Tarasov tells Osborne. “It is the spirit of freedom, a laid-back feeling.”

2. This audio slideshow by student Chrissy Harris tells the story of Cory Andreen’s move from Washington D.C. to open a boutique coffee shop, Kaffee CK, in Berlin.

“Specialty coffee focuses on freshness in all respects,” Andreen says. “It’s treating coffee like wine, in a lot of ways. We’re one of only a handful of shops in Berlin.”

There’s another cool fast-motion sequence in the middle of this story that is similar to the one in Osborne’s production above. Harris photographed Andreen simply pouring coffee beans from hand to hand. The variety of close and distant shots gives this piece a visual depth and some pleasing texture.

Stay tuned for another photographer interview next week.

— Interview and story by Laura Read


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