A Traveler in Tokyo

Last summer, Gabie Korein `18 experienced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Tokyo, Japan for a photography internship with National Geographic. One of the biggest lessons she learned—to be a traveler and not a tourist.

“Travelers try to fit in with the customs, and tourists come to someone else’s country and expect it to be the way they want it. During my experience, and especially while taking photos, I needed to see through the eyes of a traveler, not a tourist.”

While in Japan, Gabie did just that, as she explored the countryside, immersed in Tokyo’s neighborhoods, visited temples and shrines, tried-on the fashion and tasted the cuisine—a trip that culminated in a gallery where she showcased her work. Passionate about landscape photography, Gabie said she was especially excited to visit Mount Fuji. What she wasn’t prepared for, though, was that her journey would ignite her passion for telling stories about people.

“Photography is more than capturing pictures of things you think are pretty. It’s about capturing stories, and stories involve people.”

One particular photo Gabie took is of an old man sitting on Mount Fuji, one of her favorite photos from the trip. She said, “Older people are great to photograph, because there’s just a story to tell. His eyes—they say a lot. He seems really wise. And out of all the people on this mountain, no one was wearing traditional Japanese clothing except these men. It’s something you’d only see there.”

As a student at MICDS, Gabie knows first-hand that it’s the people who make a place so special. In fact, she was able to fully embrace the opportunity thanks to the teachers, mentors and classmates who have pushed her to succeed.

“All the things MICDS promotes—being brave, putting yourself out there, experiencing things, and being a leader. Those are the reasons I went on the trip.”

More specifically and melding her love for art with science, Gabie took an interest in National Geographic and similar outlets through an environmental science course at MICDS. It was in that course that she realized her passion for photography could be paired with bringing awareness to national and global issues.

“I always cared about the environment, but I never really loved science until then,” she said. “It opened my eyes to a new side of myself, and I realized, as a photographer, I could cover stories about environmental issues. That class solidified my decision to want to become a photographer and do this kind of work.”

From animal extinction to oil spills, tsunamis, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights and poverty, Gabie said, “as long as it impacts people, those are the stories I want to tell through photography.”