I received an email a few months ago from a teacher, requesting that I allow a grade 7 student to interview me on my career choice of being a photographer. I was honoured to be chosen and to talk to G, grade 7 student. G is a gentle, soft-spoken soul, who takes her school work seriously. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her.
This is what she wrote:
Sitting at home, her head is hurting. She has so many things on her mind. She hears a
voice: “Christina? Christina? Are you okay?”
That’s when she realizes that she isn’t okay. She has a feeling inside that has been
bothering her for a while. ‘I need to retire. It’s not fair to me or the kids, for me to teach
when I’m burning out.’
Christina had wanted to be a teacher ever since she was in grade 2. That was when
she had this teacher she really liked, and that inspired her to become a teacher like her.
She began teaching when she was 19. She taught her first class in 1968 at a two room
school called Margaret Hayward. She taught for 32 years. She taught grades 1, 2, 3,
While teaching her first class, she had no idea what she was doing, she was not very
good. But she really loved working with kids. She loved teaching art and reading. “If
someone wrote something really good and I knew I inspired them to write it,
those were my best moments.”
When she was little, she loved reading books. She read mystery books. “I would take
books out of the library all the time.” She was also really shy in grade 7 and she was
always lonely. She wasn’t a very good student in school, maybe average. She went to
St. Johns then West Kildonan Collegiate. She never got in trouble in high school. “I
skipped class a few times but never got caught.”
She also worked at a fast food restaurant, Safeway, and she sometimes babysat, but
none of those helped her with her career in any way. “However I knew how it felt to
go out and work and know how hard it is.”
Then came the day she decided that she wanted to change her career. “I was too
stressed and really tired from being a teacher. I knew I wanted to try something
new, something interesting.”
After she retired from teaching, she started taking photography classes, and that led to
the whole photography thing. When she started taking photography classes she really
enjoyed them, and the people she met. In the class, she met someone who took
pictures of little children, and their families. She thought that was very interesting, and
that gave her the thought that she could do that as well.
She loves her job especially if she takes a picture of a child. It makes her really happy.
She loved how she felt when she took her first picture. “Just yesterday I was editing
pictures of the family and in one of the pictures this boy was jumping on a trampoline and his body bent down, and you could see his face, and it just made
my day because it was such a good picture.”
She has two favourite places to take her photographs. The first place is the park she
lives near. She took pictures of the park in all four seasons, and then put it together as
one. The other place is where she was born. She enjoys taking pictures there because
there is a very nice view of the sunset. “The secret to taking pictures is not your
camera or your gear; it’s all in your brain.”
As for advice for others who would like to follow in her footsteps . . . “go to Tec Voc, if
you want to become a photographer. You can finish high school, and then you
can go there, but you have to be under the age of 21.”
Now when Christina thinks about her career change from a teacher to a photographer
she thinks that she made a really good choice, and that it’s the best thing ever.
I like the way that G used some “poetic license” when writing this. The voice inside my head; of course was my own voice. It is true, that I knew it was time to retire. I had had many good years of teaching and had seen teachers who kept teaching when they were burned out, when they no longer had the drive and enthusiasm that they once had. I did not want to ever be one of those teachers. It was a good decision. I loved teaching but it was time for a change. Photography has been a blessing for me. I love taking photographs of children and babies and anything else that inspires me!
BTW: The place where I was born is Steyr, Austria, a beautiful city with some of the oldest architecture in Europe. The spot with the lovely view was a hotel I stayed in the last time I was there.
Remember: “The secret to taking pictures is not your camera or your gear; it’s all in your brain.”
Thank you G for this wonderful experience and the great essay!