FORMER STUDENTS AND INSTRUCTORS REFLECT ON THEIR IN-SIGHT EXPERIENCE
Volunteering at In-Sight allowed me to figure out my own voice in photography. Working with pre-teens and teenagers who had seemingly no inhibitions about photographing their world and what was important to them allowed me to feel more comfortable with pursuing my own interests.
My favorite class was in alternative processes. Over the course of a week the students made salt prints, digital negatives, shot with 4 x 5 cameras and created cyanotypes. Each day was filled with something new and different. I love seeing how the kids combined the processes in different ways to create imaginative images.
I’ve seen people in other photo communities be dismissive of the novice – or practices that don’t fall within their own lines of interest. However, at In-Sight everyone was there to learn and have fun.
- Margaret Kristensen
My first experience teaching at In-Sight was a class I co-taught at the Brattleboro Retreat, a mental health facility. Our students were patients – teenage girls not much younger than us. They shot with 35mm color film that we took to the drugstore each week to be developed. At the beginning of each class we would present the students with the glossy prints made the week before.
Our students were not permitted to leave the facility. But during our evening classes we would roam the grounds, visiting familiar places in their inert states – the cafeteria with lights dimmed and metal grates down, hushed meeting rooms, empty staircases. These places became theater sets, inviting the students to perform poetic and comic tableaux for one another and for the camera. For me it was a revelation. I could see the camera not simply recording what was, but creating a space lifted off from reality, a space for reflection and play, just a little bit freer.
I still teach photography, now at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.
In the mid-1990s, when my husband decided to go to grad school, we moved back to Brattleboro from the West Coast. It was good to be back home in the Northeast – like putting on a favorite fall sweater that you haven’t worn for a while. And while I was comforted by the familiarity of New England and the East Coast, at the same time I was wondering what I was going to do with myself now that I was back, having left behind my friends and life in Seattle, where I’d been growing a pretty good career in production for the performing arts.
As I was searching for my new normal I turned to my photography which led me to In-Sight. I went over to the Boys and Girls Club on Flat Street for an introduction to the program. When I walked in I flashed back to the last time I had been there. I was 16, under age, and at the Flat Street Discotech (aka as Vermont’s Largest Disco). In-Sight was then housed in the former home of the Flat Street Disco, and I was going to be teaching kids that were the same age as I was back then. I somehow had come full circle. I once again felt more at home. In-Sight will do that.
- Vaune Trachtman
In-Sight was my very first teaching job. I was a student at Marlboro College, under the tutelage of In-Sight’s co-founder, John Willis. I had really fallen in love with photography during my junior year and jumped at the opportunity to teach when John approached me about it. If memory serves, on the first day of class I quickly realized I was in over my head and was incredibly grateful for my co-teacher who had taught at In-Sight before. Over the course of that fall – 1996, I think – I learned a lot about how to engage passionately with students about image making.
I’ve been teaching photography every since. I’m now an Associate Professor at Keene State College, very proud that over the past few years a number of my students have volunteered as photography teachers at In-Sight as well.
- Jonathan Gitelson
My time at In-Sight funneled me into the field of imaging nerd-dom. It all started when I began asking my In-Sight teachers, “How does that work?” Learning about the reasons why film could have different ISO ratings, how cyanotypes are made, and why an image made by a pinhole camera came out upside down were all fascinating to my 13 to 18-year-old brain. I took the knowledge I was exposed to and started breaking it down, dissecting the pieces to try understand the reasons why.
The incredible staff at In-Sight showed me how to ask critical questions, and learn about the processes I was using to create art. And now I use the very same skills that I began to develop at In-Sight in the big-kid world as an Imaging Scientist for biological applications.
- Evan Darling
If In-Sight sold an air freshener it would smell like old wooden floors and darkroom chemicals and I would buy it in a second. It’s the smell of the narrow hallways that hold more fond memories for me than any other place in Brattleboro. It’s the smell of the narrow hallways, with walls lined with pictures of me and my best friends as we grew up. Of adults who treated us as peers and made us feel at home. It’s the smell of the darkroom mix CDs brimming with teenage angst.
Most of my photographic practice now consists of running around with a camera at protests and political events. It can feel a long way from the quiet In-Sight darkroom. But it’s because of the skills in photography and community building I gained at In-Sight that my introverted self can revel in crowds and make sense of chaos. I am so grateful to In-Sight for introducing me to photography, for giving me a tool to understand an increasingly complex world.
- Rachael Warriner
As a young student one of my first photography assignments was to go out and make pictures of people I didn’t know. It was terrifying and exciting all wrapped up into one. The goal was to engage with someone new to you and create a small collaboration… creating images with them rather than just taking pictures of them. In these short interactions it is pivotal to talk with this person, to build a dialogue. Through this subject and photographer begin to learn from the other.
As a former student and educator with In-Sight and the Exposures Program I’ve found this exercise in our current political and societal climate to be as important as ever. We need to remember and we need to learn to have conversations with people and to be able to listen and look.
- Peter Terwilliger