As the semester is coming to an end, I’m going back home! So I decided to post some travel-themed pictures, including some of my city 🙂


Happy finals!


Not every photo you take will be perfect in form and technique: maybe the composition will be slightly off, the shadows are a bit too dark, or there is something in the background. Sure, there is always Lightroom and Photoshop, but personally, I don’t like editing too much unless the photo has an amazing subject and I messed up the settings. I’d much rather try to take a good shot from the start, but as we know that’s not always going to be the case (no matter how much experience you have).

That’s why today I wanted to share three photos from the summer with hopefully fun stories behind them.

A Swiss guard standing at the border of the smallest country in the world. But wait, why Swiss? Swiss soldiers, according to the Roman author Tacitus, were long renowned as the best soldiers in the world and were in especially high demand in the early renaissance. In 1505 Matthäus Schiner, a Swiss bishop to Vatican, proposed the creation of Swiss corps employed and controlled by the Vatican. The guards soon earned a reputation for bravery and sacrifice when 147 of 189 died defending Pope Clement VII during the sack of Rome in 1527, and later taking defensive positions despite being outnumbered when German forces rolled into Rome during World War II. Swiss guards protect the Vatican to this day and there are many requirements to become one starting with actual Swiss citizenship.


While touring the Colosseum we suddenly heard a faint noise from one of the columns. It was a ginger cat looking at the crowds of tourists walking by, but not at all scared of them – he seemed like he owned the place and we were the intruders. We joked that maybe it was Vespasian, the emperor under which Colosseum was built, although Nero would be more fitting – he was thought to be ginger and the Colosseum was built on the grounds he took for himself from the Romans as well as next to a giant statue of his, the Colossus. The truth is, in modern-day Rome, there are over 200 cats living in the Colosseum: reincarnations of Roman emperors or not, they definitely rule the place now.


A security guard takes a break to look outside of a museum of Markets of Trajan in Rome. It’s around 40 degrees outside (around 104F) and his windows are open. Almost every window surrounding him is different, but each reflects the clear blue sky that allows for such brutal weather. His view is even more impressive than his place of work: It’s the Forum Romanum, a collection of public buildings that would make up the center of Roman life for centuries.


Feel free to let me know what you think! I love when you guys reach out

Till next week!

– Tola

IG: @akilian.jpg


TOLAROIDS: Favorite Summer Series

Before I jump into how beautiful Ann Arbor is in the fall, I wanted to post some photos I took over the summer. My favorite was probably a series I didn’t expect to take in the first place – I had a layover in Newark while flying home and got a beautiful view of the New York City skyline, which I thought I would share.

Getting settings right was tricky because of the air at the airport and planes that were constantly moving, but I think I got some pretty decent shots.


If you want to get in touch, you know where to find me:


TOLAROIDS: Welcome back


Regardless of whether you were here last year or whether it’s your first day at arts, ink., I wanted to (re)introduce myself. My name is  Tola and since last fall I have been a photography content creator for Arts at Michigan. I love traveling, good coffee, dogs, and bad puns (as you have figured by now). I have exciting things planned for this year: everything from the weekly photo series through photography tutorials to collaborations with other creators and photographers! For my first post, I decided to put some of my favorite images up from different photo series to show you what kind of stuff I usually do – and although travel photography definitely dominates on my hard drive, I also do a lot of portraits, studio work, reportage, and macro photography.

I will post every Tuesday (probably) afternoon, so stay tuned for more content from Tolaroids. Regardless of whether you want to learn something new about photography or maybe just look at some pretty pictures, I will make sure to keep this blog interesting and exciting for you all! That’s why don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns, or just to say hi (or send me a photography pun).

See you next week!



Instagram: @akilian.jpg

Study Hal: Week 28 – Cabin Camping

To start the break off right, Hal took a trip to northern Michigan this weekend. He stayed in a cabin with Sparky. Of course, he followed public health procedures in any remotely public spaces, but in the off-season, the campground was practically abandoned. The unseasonably warm weather, though, meant that Hal could be outside all he wanted. Isn’t it neat to watch the sunrise over a lake?

Hal hasn’t slept outside of his childhood bed since January. It’s weird for a college student to stay in the same place for so long, isn’t it? Hal and I agree, though, that we’d rather be feeling weird staying put than putting others at risk by moving around.

Hal, Sparky, and I would like to wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving! Remember to take care of your mind and body over the break, even if that means eating some comfort food and catching up on homework. 🙂

If you’re new here, Hal is a U-M student who’s been studying remotely since January, and who will be remote next semester, too! If you’d like to see more, come back next Tuesday, or search the “Study Hal” tag for more.

The Footsteps That Came Before Me

So this summer I had the amazing pleasure of leaving the country for the first time and going to England, where I got to study for five weeks at Oxford University, one of the oldest universities in the world. I haven’t gotten to talk much about my experiences there, since I made a blog but never kept up with it (oops), but I’d like to share something that I started thinking about when I came back to the University of Michigan.

It’s weird, because when I got to Oxford, I knew the history behind it, that there were thousands upon thousands of people that had walked the exact same pathways I did, that lived and breathed Oxford. It seemed like every day I learned something new; President Clinton once smoked weed at the Turf, Lewis Carroll taught here. There’s obviously something magical about walking in the footsteps of those who came before you (although, no, I didn’t smoke weed at the Turf – I just got a pint of cider, as per usual).

I’ve thought about this more, too, as the semester has gone on and I’ve been studying the works of James Joyce, who will forever be imprinted in Irish literary history. I had the chance to go to Dublin – there were some other people that wanted to go too – but I instead chose Paris. And even there, I found the quintessential tourist stop for an English major: Shakespeare and Company, the amazing bookstore that you just have to see to believe.

I found out in my Joyce class that Ulysses, his famous epic, was actually first published through Shakespeare and Company, and I had walked those halls, and I had taken a picture of the mural they have on the wall with James Joyce, proud on the wall. Joyce had gone to Paris and written in Paris a number of times – you could say I made that same pilgrimage.

But as I think about these things, about how these great writers have come before me, how I merely spent not even half my summer at this famed university whereas they devoted themselves to it – I don’t necessarily feel special. Sure, I loved it beyond all measure; this year marks the 100 year anniversary of the publishing of Alice in Wonderland. And it’s astounding that I even got accepted, much less had the money to go over there and spend five weeks essentially frolicking across Europe.

But I didn’t feel particularly magical. I know there are people who spend their time trekking across Dublin to find the spots Joyce mentions in Ulysses, or they go overseas to write because that’s what T.S. Eliot did. But nothing’s going to change if I write my novel here or if I write my novel in Paris, emulating some famous author. He’s not going to come back to life and help me revise those 300 pages, or give me inspiration for my next book.

I don’t mean to be too didactic, but I realized that following art isn’t what makes you any better – it’s doing your own art. By having my own experiences in Europe, I define who I am as me, not as someone else. Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t go back to Paris and perhaps write there (because I loved Paris. I loved it). But I’ll do it because it’s what I want to do – not because Joyce did it a century earlier.

And if there’s any true moral of the story it’s this: travel, get outside your box, go somewhere. It’s totally worth it.