Shaylyn Berntson

TBLI VII Winner!

  • ppa-instagram-red
  • portfolio-icon
Q: What mode of transportation do you think best reflects your personality? Plane, train, automobile, rickshaw, or something not on this list. Why?
A: Albeit archaic, walking best fits my personality. While I value all modes of transportation, each moment I’ve caught my breath — that time stood still and I’ve stared in awe — it’s been my two feet which have gotten me there. To that precise spot.
Q: Where is your bucket list trip going to take you and what are you hoping to gain/take away from The Bucket List Initiative travel experience? Include a tentative itinerary.
A: My Bucket List Initiative is to travel to Tanzania, Africa to create and capture a compelling, modern-day account of a path that was once embarked upon by the ancient hominid species that thrived there millions of years ago. To do this, I would focus on photographing the landscape, the animals, the villages, the ancient Maasai people, and the archaeological sites in the region, glimpsing the juxtaposition of life then and life now. I’d begin in Dar es Salaam, traveling north along the coast before going inland toward Mt. Kilimanjaro, Arusha, and finally the Olduvai Gorge. From the blue waters of the Indian Coast, to the outskirts of the Serengeti, I would set about documenting ancient lands giving them new life and new meaning.
Q: What are your creative pursuits and how would you apply them to documenting your experience?
A: I am extremely passionate about visual culture. Photographs, narratives, and all aspects of storytelling inspire me and take me on journeys both near and far. My love of photography, travel, and culture is what drives me and I have every intention of pursuing these passions through visuals. I want to drench my photos with sensory detail. I want my viewers to feel, taste, and breathe Tanzania; to feel the hot air of the Serengeti, to hear the words of the ancient Maasai song, to touch the hard ground of the Olduvai Gorge knowing that ancient man once walked here. I want to seduce a passion for exploration in my viewers. I strive to make experiences tangible; to continue to inspire others, and to push myself past all that I thought possible.
Q: Why you? Why now? Make your case.
A: One of the first books I asked my father to read to me was Origins. I was six. In this book, R. Leakey takes his readers on a journey through the lands of Africa. Intrigued by the human-like skull and the Serengeti plains on the cover, I insisted my father purchase it from the local thrift store. It is still signed by a George who owned the book decades before. It was at this time that my fascination of Africa began. In May I will graduate with my BA in Anthropology. Amazingly my childhood fascination withstood the test of time and is as intense in my adulthood as it was then. To explore the lands I found so novel in this book would make real for me a very intimate, special passion; a passion to bring to life these lands of antiquity through photography and storytelling. Years of exposure to National Geographic photos, documentaries, expeditions, and four years of intense study have only amplified my dreams of exploring Tanzania. I am ready to live, breathe, and share this adventure.

The Other Finalists