September 4, 2014

Student Hat

Student hat. Concordia University; Montreal, QC // September 2011

This funny portrait was shot by an eighteen year old kid with a large mouth in early September of 2011. I was 25 then. His mouth suited him. He was curious and asked to shoot my Kiev 60 and then he surprised me by shooting me in the back of the neck. By the look of things, I was scrambling on foolscap to make a scrap of sense of the concept we were learning at the time: Exposure. Ha! Still learning that song. Three years ago feels like a long time ago / feels like yesterday. Looking at this photo from an arm's length now, I appreciate that time in life all the more. I had my hair cut then, on the cusp of great change while living by my lonesome in Montreal. Psychological chop. Three years of growth later and it has all come off again, to mark yet another cycle of learning. Diving into the deep with no bangs to block my way.

While the cold night winds of this wet September feel the same on the nape of my neck, student-hood feels different. I recently launched into a year long program to becoming a teacher of Montessori. Alternative learning / teaching. Cycling to class feels different. I caught myself grinning like a fool in the middle of insane rush hour traffic on the Sterling Lyon Parkway today, all thanks to that great feeling of being prepared for class. Ready. Read. Opinionated. Damn that felt good.

In class, which consists of a semi circle of small furniture in an actual Montessori environment built for 2-6 year olds with rugs and plants and hamsters and birds chirping, we are learning how to be children. Perfect, courteous children with absorbent minds, ready for anything. Open hearted. Curious. We observe the guide and then we teach each other. Watch me, she says. Are you watching? Yes. Would you like to try? Yes. We are expected to climb into the head of the child and feel around up there. Through acute observation and hands-on practice with miniature materials plucked from every day life, we are expected to eventually let go our premeditated handles on education and just BE. You be you and I'll be me. Watch and learn.

Observe. Guide. Respect. Listen.

It is humbling beyond words to be taught and re-taught the correct way to hold a saucer, to roll a mat, to tuck in a chair with grace, to snuff a candle, to pour from one vessel to the next in a specific sequence. How are we to teach if we are not taught the correct approach ourselves? This method is up for debate, I know. But thus far, the 100 year old philosophy of Maria Montessori's feels like something I can get behind. Or sink my teeth into. Or at least try on for size. It makes perfect sense in a way that I never could seem to understand while studying Fine Art photography. And that's okay. Photography will always be a tool I use to communicate what is deeply rooted within me, a secret way of seeing I cannot pen or plan. Teaching is in me to give. I know this. Just a few weeks into the philosophy, I am beginning to understand this as truth. There is much to learn, though the thought of the unknown does not overwhelm or consume me as it has in the past.

This is a good sign.

Below are a few photographs from the same roll as the portrait above, shot in and around Montreal in the first few weeks of autumn.

Aforementioned teen with large mouth. 
A man called Ron. I asked for his portrait and this is what he gave.
A chic lady in a lovely wool coat.
I remember feeling terribly heavy this day. My sister once said to me, "when you feel heavy, look up" so I did. Erin, this one is for you.
This was shot from the beautiful back balcony that I shared with Lo while living in Montreal.

Kiev 60 // Portra 400


  1. i love you. I am excited for your school learning! Can you tell me some of what you learn? I want to know it too. That portrait is so beautiful.

  2. lovely. congratulations with this direction! excited for you. x