Documenting and Perceiving

Teachers stay teachers because they are addicted to the occasional joys, the joys that overshadow the common and continuous frustrations (mounds of things to grade, recalcitrant students, angry parents, obtuse bureaucrats). One of the greatest joys is to see students go off into the world and seize the opportunities they encounter.

photo by Ramsay de GiveWhen Ramsay de Give was a student at the school where I teach, we all knew he was a talented photographer and an intelligent and compassionate human being. For various reasons, we weren't exactly sure what would become of him in the world, though. It was a great pleasure, then, when he sent me the address of his website, because there were the fruits of his past few years' work as a photojournalist, and the results are, in my entirely biased opinion, extraordinary.

Ramsay uses his images to tell stories about the world, stories that might not otherwise be told. I found the "stories and essays" section of his website particularly moving and extraordinary, as Ramsay portrays the lives of children born addicted to heroin with an unsentimental sensitivity rare in any storyteller, never mind one of his relative youth. But he has experienced far more of the world than many people much older than he is, a fact that was vividly clear when he was a student, not only in his photographs, but also in the seriousness with which he approached reading and writing in my class. He is one of those students who taught me far more than I taught him, and who continues to teach through the pictures he takes and the stories he tells.

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