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  1. #1
    ann
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    Unexpected gifts

    Unexpected gifts.

    Many times we may wonder why we do what we do. Lately I have been questioning myself as to my future goals and how long I will continue to teach.

    Today, I got a reminder.

    Last year I taught some darkroom classes at a mental health educational facility.

    They had a very nice little darkroom and I worked with people who were basically out- patients, learning some new skills and having a bit of fun.

    One young man I worked with was institutalized, heavily medicated and really wasn’t working out well in a group setting. His doctor thought perhaps working with one person in a different type of environment might be helpful to his treatment.

    So he became my student. He was a sweet young man, and we spent about 8 weeks together, twice a week, several hours at a time. He was heavily medicated and his hands shook, so I would load the film for him and he would develop it himself. His interest span was short and so I had to think of a new way to teach him something that might be lasting. So we did paper negatives and solarization, chemical painting and even some photo grams.

    He could run through a roll of 36 exposures in 5 minutes, and not have much to show, but he loved it.

    He would talk to me, and with me and his doctor was pleased with his progress.

    As most things go, things came to an end.

    Yesterday I received an email from this young man, who has moved, gotten married, has a dog and more importantly for this story, a darkroom.

    I responded to that message with a message to keep taking those pictures and have fun. Today I got a reply “.yeah its fun! i will continue 2 take pictures even if it kills me”.


    Do I think that those 8 weeks were a cure, no, but it certainly gave him something.

    A great reminder of how much joy photography brings to so many and how much I receive from teaching.
    http://www.aclancyphotography.com

  2. #2
    picturetaker's Avatar
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    A great story - as much about your care as his focus on photography.
    Larry
    Bessa L, Electro 35 GSN, Elan 7NE, Olympus XA and XA2, Digital Rebel XT

  3. #3
    David Brown's Avatar
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    Excellent, Ann! Well done!

  4. #4
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Well done, indeed!
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  5. #5
    papagene's Avatar
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    Ann - having spent time conversing with you in the chatroom this story doesn't surprise me. I have come to realize that you are a special person who could reach such a person as in your post.
    Excellent work and congrats on the success story.

    gene
    gene LaFord


    Long live Ed "Big Daddy" Roth!!
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    "I don't care about Milwaukee or Chicago." - Yvon LeBlanc

  6. #6
    ann
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    thank you for your kind words,

    i wanted to share this story to remind us all that what we do has far reaching effects, not to indicate i was special.
    http://www.aclancyphotography.com

  7. #7
    papagene's Avatar
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    We still think you're special!!
    gene LaFord


    Long live Ed "Big Daddy" Roth!!
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    "I don't care about Milwaukee or Chicago." - Yvon LeBlanc

  8. #8
    copake_ham's Avatar
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    ann,

    Thanks for sharing this piece of you - and you are indeed special to have given of yourself as you did.

    Maybe you and your former student should do a shoot together sometime and post some pics here?

    Working with the mentally challenged (however they may be) is a very special thing and requires a level of patience and acceptance that defeats most of us.

    My wife and I are fortunate to have as neighbors in Copake one of the Camphill Village communities (folks here can Google for further info). This community by us is extra fortunate because the famous classical pianist, Andre Watts, has a special affection for them.

    Each year he performs a recital for the residents (both "ordinary" and "challenged") as his way of sharing his talents. Much as he is a highlight of their calendar - so are they one on his.

    We were privileged to attend the recital last year (my wife is a classical pianist and has been a Watts-freak for years and was so extra thrilled!) and were so impressed with how comfortable he was sharing his talent with everyone and then spending hours of time just being there at a reception.

    Beyond his obvious musical talent, he showed a special talent to just treat each individual as a friend - without judgement or condescension. He was just a person interacting with a person.

    You're blessed, ann.

    And I say that as a non-religious person.

  9. #9

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    BRAVO! My son (now 24) has special needs. This world needs more people like you.

    Rick.
    Rick Jason.
    "I'm still developing"

  10. #10
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Well done, Ann. Thanks for sharing your story. Although I don't teach photography, my guess is you can never really know how you may have influenced your students. Just knowing what they may have taken with them from the class is not easily measured for photography teachers, but it sounds like your students (all of them) are fortunate to have taken your classes.

    And how gratifying it must be that he still loves photography!

    Thanks for sharing this story, Ann! As someone said earlier, bravo!

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