Students study with renowned photographer during Summer in Sweden trip

Removing color from the equation can be somewhat of a high-wire act for a photographer.

“I had never done black-and-white photography before,” said Jeren Kent. “It forced me to rely on composition.”

But for Kent, studying with renowned photographer Örjan Henriksson this summer opened his eyes to new ideas when it comes to taking a picture. Kent was one of nine students who participated in the Art Department’s annual Summer in Sweden program to study print photography.

“Örjan’s works are simple, but speak in volumes,” said Kent. “It wasn’t about copying his style but learning to take the time to understand something and look deeper. I came away with a better appreciation for using each frame, and learned how to push each frame to its limit.”

Henriksson has lectured and taught photography at Mullsjö Folkhögskola, University of Jönköping and at Missouri Southern. Last spring, he brought his award-winning “Auschwitz KZ I-II” exhibit – a series taken at the concentration camps – to the MSSU campus.

Shay Thomas, a senior art major, said the experience of studying under him was a bit intimidating, given she had only taken a single photography class before embarking on the trip.

“But Örjan’ was very open-minded and patient,” she said. “He was very easy to get along with. He taught me a very important lesson about not shifting my art, to stay wild and not conform to everyone else.”

Beyond the photography assignment he had to fulfill – such as crowd shots, or empty spaces – Kent said the five weeks spent in Sweden was an eye-opening experience.

“Seeing the world gives you new ideas,” he said. “For the first time, I was a foreigner. It makes you learn to appreciate things more.”

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