Communication major Denae McGaha ’16 is literally traveling the world this summer. She’s visiting five continents and more than 10 different countries in 91 days. The best part? Airfare and lodging isn’t costing her a dime. She won a national contest called Snap Gap, sponsored by StudentUniverse and a cadre of other travel businesses. Her end of the deal is simple: she’ll document her adventure through and blogs and Snapchats every week she’s on the road.

McGaha is no stranger to international excursions or digital media. In fact, she’s nearly perfected the art of travel video montages during her semesters abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark and London, England.

Denae McGaha

Travel contest sends recent PLU graduate to 5 continents in 3 months.
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She’s the perfect Lute to dole out a handful of useful tips on capturing great video while studying away. Take these to heart while documenting your own study away experiences and perhaps you’ll be selected by StudentUniverse to follow in McGaha’s footsteps following your senior year.

Be bold with your video making.

It’s intimidating at first to be around complete strangers and to have your camera or phone out shooting video. Don’t be shy about introducing yourself as a videographer. Just let people know that’s how you like to make and capture memories. After a while, if you have your camera out long enough, you’ll start to blend in and people will get used to you. After a while, they’ll even start to like being on camera!

Stay in the moment.

A lot of beautiful memories happen in the simple day-to-day. Try to be aware of that and try not to anticipate too much. Have your camera at the ready, especially if you know you’ll be surrounded by friends or you’ll be seeing something new and exciting. Part of being in the moment is knowing when to put your camera away and focus your attention 100 percent on where you are and what you’re doing. Not everything has to be on video.

Think about your future, editing self.

Do yourself a favor and keep your footage organized as you go. Whether you’re using folders on your computer, Dropbox or Google Drive, it will help so much when the time comes to edit.

Connect with other creative people.

Seeking out other people who are capturing their travels with photos or video and spending time shooting with them can be really rewarding. I recommend setting up a time with a fellow photographer, even if it’s just a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon, and going out together into a city to find new things to document.

Share your camera.

We all like to occasionally make appearances in our own travel videos! Don’t hesitate to hand your camera off to a friend and let them shoot for a bit. It’s a simple way to get into your own content without having to resort to taking selfies all the time.

Don’t forget to shoot close-ups.

One thing I learned on my first study away trip was that I wasn’t getting as many close-ups as I would have liked. You’ll always have plenty of wide scenery shots and full body shots of your friends, but I had to learn to not be nervous about getting up in my friends faces with my camera.