KILLALOE – Ben Anderman offers a unique look through an unconventional lens.
Raised within an intentional community on the Morninglory Farm, located between Killaloe and Wilno, Anderman sheds some light on 24 years of learning.
Anderman describes his upbringing as back to the land, a philosophy adopted by his parents Christina and Robbie who helped build the Morninglory Farm community in 1969.
Shunning conventional education, Christina and Robbie encouraged their three sons to explore the world on their own, unrestrained, self-directed and in their natural environment.
Similar to unschooling, a term coined by the educator John Holt in the early 1970’s, the approach centers on allowing children to learn through natural life experiences initiated by the child, unimpeded by conventional grading systems deemed counterproductive to the goal of education.
In Holt’s words, “We should try to turn out people who love learning so much, and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever must be learned.”
This approach offered many advantages Anderman said.
“When you are really interested in something, you can learn and take your time, and while not perfect, as it would have been nice to learn things I may not have thought of, it is a big advantage to learn what you are interested in.”
Among Anderman’s varied interests, is photography. The 24-year-old became curious about taking pictures when a neighbour offered him the use of a black and white digital camera when he was quite young.
Taking pictures of the housecats at first, Anderman admits he was most interested because the camera was digital and he liked that it interfaced with a computer.
“I was spending a lot of time on the computer, both socially and learning things. Photography was an excuse to go outside and look around and capture things in the best way I could think of.”
He purchased his first camera in 2003, a SiPix SP 1300 with 1.3 mega pixels online, with money from a trust fund provided by his grandparents.
His interest grew and his compositions became more artistic. His snowflake was chosen by the Northern Credit Union for their calendar and also for their corporate Christmas card.
The spectacular shot captures the crystallization of a single snowflake.
“It was taken in 2009 with a Macro lens and a one-second exposure with a close up lens made by my brother Ethan,” he said.
It was the technical challenge that inspired Anderman to take the photo.
“I collected snowflakes on a scarf and moved them into a sheltered area and had my tripod. The snowflakes are either really small or too big and fluffy, occasionally they are good and minus five is the best temperature. I would go out for an hour and a half and experiment,” he explained.
He entered the Northern Credit Union contest at the urging of friends and family, and discovered that his photo had been chosen from a friend’s message on Facebook. His photography was also used for some advertising in the UK.
“I never saw what it was used for but they paid me $300.”
Anderman believes that his upbringing has less to do with his photography than where he grew up.
“I was surrounded by nature, and the fact that I could be outside taking pictures and wasn’t in class all day. I always liked the artistic statement and making things look as good as I can. The photos aren’t set up and I use natural light to capture something interesting and original.”
Anderman’s photography became a part-time business with a series of 26 cards by the time he was 18. His family manages the business now that he has moved to Vancouver.
“Today I don’t take as many pictures as I would like, so I started a daily photo site. I put photos on there and it forces me to do something with photography every day,” he said.
Story continues in the November 14, 2012 issue of The Valley Gazette.