2017 International Photo Contest Winners

Theme - Defy Imagination:  Images that depict something that you did not expect, or that helped you imagine life in another context during your international experience.

Pinwheel Dreams by Colin Banks

First Place & People's Choice

Pinwheel Dreams

Colin Banks (Mechanical Engineering)

Kawagoe, Japan


Every summer at the Kawagoe Shrine people gather to celebrate, and write their dreams and wishes on wind chimes. This picture shows a woman wearing her traditional yukata, standing in the middle of her dreams, and the dreams of others, wondering how many will come true. 


Spaceship by Steven Garcia

Second Place


Steven Garcia (Marketing)

Liverpool, United Kingdom


Shocked with the amazing architecture and the reigning silence in the Central Library of Liverpool, surrounded by books and letters … I imagined myself in a spaceship traveling out to explore new worlds. Reminds me of my first days in England realizing that I was out of my comfort zone trying to adapt to a new culture and environment. Represents the beginning of my experience abroad.


The Alleys by Katelyn Throckmorton

Third Place

The Alleys

Katelyn Throckmorton (Biology)

Stockholm, Sweden


As I wandered through Stockholm, I found myself jumping through time. Every building around me was built before America was even America. On these walks through Old Town, I imagined life in 17th century Sweden; wooden carts being hauled down the bumpy cobblestone, carrying breads and cheeses, clothes drying out on wires across the buildings, a simpler life. When I look back at this photo of the alleys, I time travel all over again.  


Facinating Fireworks by Colin Banks

Honorable Mention

Fascinating Fireworks

Colin Banks (Mechanical Engineering)

Tokyo, Japan


This photo was taken my last night in the suburbs of Tokyo. I wanted to take photos of passing trains’ reflections in the river; however nothing came of it. While walking home, I noticed kids playing with fireworks under a unique bridge and was able to capture the moment. I believe this shows that even if you cannot find what you are looking for, if you keep your head up you can find something even better.


The Gateway by Matthew Tornero

Honorable Mention


Matthew Tornero (Theater Arts)

Dornie, Scotland


Observing the Eilean Donan Castle of the Scottish Highlands in such a docile state made my imagination run wild, back to a time when this castle was the western gate to the country. I thought of the families who occupied the castle and defended the region for over 700 years. This imposing monument was a gateway into the past, and was a standout among many highlights from this program.


Street Art by Bordalo II by Rand Al-Urfali

Honorable Mention

Street Art by Bordalo II

Rand Al-Urfali (Social Work)

Lisbon, Portugal


This photo showcases extraordinary street art by Bordalo II, who was born in Lisbon in 1987. I was astonished by this giant raccoon installation made from tires, damaged car parts, appliances and other trashed objects. This artwork helped me understand that there is no limit to creativity. It also opened my eyes to the amount of waste production which could lead to serious ecological problems if we stop recycling.