An Introduction

I taught high school for 30 years. For 25 1/2 years I taught photography at Oak Park High School in the North Kansas City School District. I also taught journalism and advised the newspaper and yearbook staffs, but it was from photography that I borrowed my analogy for my teaching experience. Light is the essential ingredient in making photographs. It was so in the beginning and so it is even now in the brave, new digital world. In all of human existence on the planet, light has taken on so many meanings: it represents knowledge and understanding, goodness, truth. Photographically, light carries the image of the world to the film, rearranging the chemistry and leaving a hidden, latent image in the film. There was my analogy for teaching–a metaphor for the potential in all my students. Film needed careful development to bring out that hidden image. Students needed their potential to be developed as well. They needed to be immersed in experiences that would bring out the highlights, shadows, and midtones of all they would become.
OK, yes, I am an idealist, but the more I taught, the more students I saw develop from their freshman to senior year. And for me as a teacher, I grew too. The light we needed to record our world on film also became, in my mind, the light I got to walk in as a teacher.
By the time I retired from teaching, we were already moving to the digital world. The latent image was cashed in for a positive image recorded on a memory card. Of course, light is still essential. And I would argue that the light going off in the mind of the photographer–the light of inspiration, vision, understanding–is still just as important if not more so as the light carrying the image through the camera.
So, when I retired it was important to me to continue Walking in the Light, to find out who I was as a photographer and journalist, to see what I could do. My mantra to my students was to do something socially significant with their words and images. Could I practice what I had preached? I had read the words of one of my favorite authors–Norman Maclean–making a similar self challenge. When he retired from a distinguished career at the University of Chicago where he taught literature for 40 years, he wondered did he have the skills to write professionally? Did he have the needed discipline? The result: “A River Runs Through It and other Stories.” It is one of the best pieces of American writing in the last century.
I identified with his attitude. Plus I probably had a certain educator’s disdain for the idea: those who can do; those who can’t teach. Phooey, I say.
So, I am currently in the tenth year of my freelance photography and writing career. This website will include many photos that I have made in my life, some from my professional life, but most from what Ansel Adams used to call “the assignments from within.”