AU Abroad Takes Sony Cameras to Semester in Cuba

HAVANA, Cuba, 7 September 2012 — The sun also rises over Havana, Cuba, from where I just returned after having spent a week supervising my “Photojournalism and Social Documentary” class, to be taught this semester by a Cuban instructor. This is the early-morning view from my room on the 8th floor of the Hotel Presidente, where I stayed. While in Havana, I met with this year’s group of AU Abroad students, some of whom are using Sony’s new Alpha 77 DSLR cameras, one of the latest to arrive on the scene of backpack video journalism. Sony has loaned American University’s School of Communication more than a dozen of the cameras, a handful of which are being used by our students in Cuba.

American University is only one of eight in the United States to receive the Sony “loaners.” AU Abroad takes about 1,000 students to study overseas each year. Cuba is one of those locations.

We now are in full throttle of the technological revolution that makes the methodology of video journalism possible. These handheld cameras, which are highly regarded by young documentary filmmakers, can help produce a brand of visual communication far more immediate, far more intimate than can larger, shoulder-held cameras with extended crews.

I’ll be returning to Havana this semester, probably in November, to check in on our students — and the work they’re doing with the new Sony cameras.