Joe Thomas took the above photo during the Spain: Journalism and Photography Dialogue of Civilizations trip this summer. Below are some of his thoughts on the experience and some observations about the picture.
“I like this photo because it captures the mystery that first drew me to the Gothic Quarter.
“I had been photographing the district almost every morning before class, but even though I liked several of the photos, they were still missing something. This photograph demonstrates the photography skills this Dialogue helped me hone, such as composition, lighting, and knowing my camera. But it also exemplifies less definable skills, such as patience, observation, and the persistence needed to capture candid moments.
“It had been sunny most of the time, but it finally rained, providing the extra mood I was hoping for and making the narrow streets even more mysterious and alluring.
“I saw this man standing outside the open door and realized that if I was patient, I might get a chance at the type of shot I had imagined. I lined up my composition and waited—and just a few moments later, he turned to go in and I got him at just the right moment, when he was halfway in the door.
“The Spain Dialogue gave me an opportunity to see Spain through a totally different lens than if I went as a tourist. Since we were serving as real international journalists—and I was taking pictures for the stories of my fellow students—I had access to activists, artists, craftsmen, religious leaders, professors, and experts. Instead of just learning about Spain from a book or classroom, I was able to see the country unfiltered and raw.”