Teaching in the Woods


Theres something exciting about a new place, its people, and the experiences there that bring a fresh perspective to life and get the creative juices flowing. That perspective, and the darkroom facility at Belvoir Terrace, set the stage for some great photography and teaching moments!

In it’s 65th year, Belvoir Terrace, is a Performing and Fine Arts camp for girls in The Berkshires of western Massachusetts. Set in those hills, the students do incredible things! Working all summer, the six week program culminated in performances on stage, in theater, and my favorite: under the orange glow of the darkroom light.

I am immensely proud of the work that was made by both advanced, and first-time Black and White photographers. I am also pleased with the adaptability of young artists. Coming from their digital world, to the woods, without their cell phones and Instagram filters, they learned where those imaging effects originated, and found joy in mastering them with their own two hands. Of course, they also found ways to play, using the tools ‘incorrectly’ but to their own creative ends:

BW SUMMER_Leah Marquardt 2018

These filters are supposed to go in the enlarger to add contrast, not on the photo paper – BUT – this is what is so brilliant about learning and youth – with respect for the tools and the rules – students can find justifiable ways to break them, and teach the teacher a thing, or two, or three. Whee!

With a pile of gratitude for the opportunity granted to me to teach in this very cool place, and for the students who taught me that inspiring others can be a challenge, but is so worth the reward.

Thoughts from Brattleboro, VT

The scope of ideas discussed at the SPE Northeast chapter conference hinged on one question. Here’s the conclusion I came to in considering “Is Photography Enough?

Isn’t it?

I think it might be more important now – harder maybe – but even more essential these days – with so much in motion, to make still pictures that cause us to pause, to consider.

I think a better question might be ‘how to convey that photography is essential?’

Almost like meditation, for us to calm and center, on a single idea, just for a few minutes more than we look at Facebook.

<eyebrows raised emoji>

Society for Photographic Education

An Interview with Myself

In preparation for an upcoming conference with creative educators, I asked myself a few basic questions to get my ‘elevator pitch’ down about my work. An excellent realization occurred:

What is your work about?

Gray areas – in the ways we try to relate, to others, and the world. I’m also interested in the ways variation in mental health and illness affect these relationships.

How do you work on this theme? Express these ideas?

By forging relationships between objects; sometimes with people, sometimes within personal domestic spaces – often they are found natural objects, or man-made objects that have been discarded – the bits that feel left behind. I’m looking for insights among them.