What is your primary artistic medium?
How did you get started as a teaching artist?
I have always enjoyed explaining how things work to others, and had been told I was good at it. When given an opportunity to teach workshops in photography, I tried it, and it gave me much satisfaction.
What led you to creative aging?
I found out about the creative aging concept and Lifetime Arts through the group, Association for Teaching Artists.
The idea that having an active brain keeps a person healthy is an incredibly attractive one and one that makes perfect sense. Just like exercising the physical muscles of the body to improve health and stamina, exercising the brain can do the same thing.
Experience cannot be underestimated and individuals 55+ have much experience to pull from to formulate ideas that they wish to express visually. I am a firm believer that creating quality artwork takes rigorous thought. When I found out that Lifetime Arts promotes learning arts as a discipline and not a hobby, I wanted to sign on. I believe in learning a concept, patting oneself on the back, then moving on to the next step. This is the way I teach and reinforce the technical, visual and conceptual components of photography.
What has been the biggest surprise in working with older adult learners?
It was a surprise to find out how impatient older learners can be! One of my participants explained it succinctly: she said something along this line, “It is because I realize there is a limited amount of time left in my life.”
What are the differences and similarities in working with the K-12 and older adult populations?
One similarity is often a short attention span. A big difference is the amount of experience that older adults bring in terms of what they have seen and what they have done.
What have been your biggest challenges? How do you respond?
The biggest challenge always is getting the point across clearly. The second biggest is getting people to concentrate on technical concepts that they may think are not important, but are.
What is the most satisfying aspect of this work?
Seeing the results of learning come through in the successful photographs made by my students. I am very pleased when a photograph blows me away visually that was created by a student, who a few weeks prior, had no confidence in their photography skills.
Creative photography can be incredibly personal and my job as a teaching artist is to impart the technical and visual skills it requires, while creating an environment of trust so that a beginner feels comfortable trying out new ideas. If participants feel confidence and trust then they are willing to explore and share ideas with other participants they just met. An atmosphere of camaraderie is priceless in a learning environment. If I can create this, stand back, listen, watch and observe their “on task” behavior, then I feel incredibly satisfied.
What have been your most memorable moments?
Visual puns that people end up photographing.
Also, seeing family members come to exhibits and being impressed by the work and results, and hearing students explain technical concepts they have mastered to others.
What skills are most important when working with older adults?
Patience. Listening. Respect.
How does this work inform your own artistic process?
I end up following my own guidelines that I have taught my students when in a rut. It helps move me forward.
What are your current or upcoming teaching or artistic projects?
Past and present personal projects include: macro studies and plant portraits in color; macro visual study of a singular male figure in black and white; ongoing professional work including documenting collections of original watercolor illustrations and rare silver.
To see more of Lori’s work you can visit her website: www.loriadamsphoto.com
Thank you Lori for your wonderful work with Lifetime Arts.
Check back each month where we will feature a new Teaching Artist who has excelled in their work with the Creative Aging process.