#1118 Grateful in Grade 4

I feel fortunate and am grateful.

Word Wall - Grade 4

Word Wall – Grade 4

Towards the end of August I got a call from a principal at an elementary school offering me a replacement contract to cover a Grade 4 class while the permanent teacher recovers from knee replacement surgery. I said “Yes.”

Helping elementary students develop and learn made me happy I changed career gears.

Special Guests
I bring “special guests” to the class to help teach Social Studies, Math, Language Arts. Chief Inspector George, Jacques Noir and a caped superhero, among others have all replaced me to illustrate a concept we are learning.

education Ottawa

Chief Inspector George visited our class looking for the missing 5 Ws.

These characters always bring the students to life and make the learning more fun. The students seem to suspect the guests are me in disguise.


#1117 Fall Photo Custom Course

Last weekend I spent some time with a long-time photo student exploring fall in Gatineau Park in a Custom Photo Course. I enjoy seeing the creative progress of students who invest in their skills. Margaret has done well!

Custom Photo Course

© Maragret A. – Early morning Gatineau Park.

We started early and explored a small part of the park along the escarpment. By the end of the morning she had a handful of stunning photos: “Move slowly and make each photo count!”

Ottawa Custom Photo Course

© Margaret A. – Maple Sapplings; Gatineau Park.

Margaret shared the photos above and note, below:

I loved yesterday’s outing… I really appreciate the thought you put into what I was to learn and work on.  All of the exercises were very relevant for me at this particular time so I know I’ll be applying the learnings as I move forward in the next few weeks.

Read Margaret’s blog for more of her photo adventures.
Well done Margaret!

#1116 Free Online Photo Program

A while ago I started our Online Photo Program. Every month we offered a new challenge with support and critique. Members loved it…
We’re looking for more members for the new, free format!

Online photo challenge

© Sara Hendrix

With some changes in direction over the last couple of years, (read past blog posts ) I’ve turned the program into a small, community managed, friendly, free, monthly photo challenge based on a private group on Facebook’s platform.

Online photo program

Online Photo Program
Portrait and Photojournalism Challenges – “Cooling off on a hot day behind the arena…”

Senior members of the group take turns developing the monthly challenge and posting links and information pertaining to the month’s photo adventure. Members offer real critique and questions that guide the discussions. I offer support, critique and tips to the group.

The group wants more members! We’re looking to attract supportive photo people of all levels willing to participate, contribute and support the community as we all try to interpret the month’s challenges. It’s not a competition. And members are looking for genuine feedback rather than praise.

Online photo challenge

Night Time Shooting
© Christine Payant

What members have said:
• “ I really enjoy the positive and constructive feedback. I know when posting that those who participate are likely just like me, wanting to learn and grow. The group has typically been diverse, with people of varying levels of experience which has been great to push me to try different things. I realize that I have some ¨Harryisms¨ that come to mind: ¨get closer¨, ¨what are you exposing for?¨, ¨triangles¨, etc.

Motion in Landscapes © Al Garner

Motion in Landscapes
© Al Garner

• “The program challenges me to get out there and photograph improving my skills as a photographer. It provides some focus. Without it, I would probably not photograph as much and I would not learn and grow as a photographer. It has helped me tremendously and gets me out there shooting and enjoying life!

Landscapes and Sunsets © Maisie Ismail

Landscapes and Sunsets © Maisie Ismail

• “… having the close group to help out and provide critique in a “safe” environment really makes a difference. It helps get over the shyness of… ‘maybe this is not good enough to post.’ What a great group to belong to and get great feedback! Thanks Harry and everyone!

To join the group you need to request to join the group and befriend me on Facebook so I can add you to the Facebook group.

Hope to see you on the other side!

#1115 Photo Studio Transforms into the “Little Big Learning Centre” – Montessori Influenced Home Schooling Centre

The photo studio that many of you know and visited over the last half decade has a new direction.

… We are excited to welcome Amy of the Little Big Learning Centre into the classroom we developed in 2010 to support my photo and arts workshops. Amy started Little Big in 2014. It blossomed so quickly that she needed a bigger space in Ottawa for her Little Big Learners to develop.

Montessori inspired, home school friendly learning space

Amy of The Little Big Learning Centre!

How did the learning centre take off? Amy drew on the influences of Maria MontessoriHoward Gardner, the Reggio Emilia approach and outdoor and experiential education.

The students blossomed and word spread… all the way to their new learning centre at 160 Preston St.

I asked Amy what inspired her to open “Little Big.” Her answer was three-fold:
• “I had a good public school experience due to my small cottage town. I grew up in Apsley, Ont. and our school had only 5 teachers. There was lots of one-on-one time, small classes, enriched learning. It was a great way to learn.

Kindergarten to Grade 4 alternatives to school in Ottawa Gatineau Chelsea

One of the smaller learning areas of the Little Big Learning Centre

• “I earned my Bachelor of Education and was shocked. There were so many kids in a class. There was too much going on. Kids were falling through cracks. Everything was so tied to the curriculum in the wrong way and geared towards practice tests for EQAO (standardized testing). I wanted to give younger students a voice – school is not just book learning.

• ” ‘Hmmm,’ I thought aloud to my husband. ‘What if we opened our own learning centre?’  And I started looking for like-minded teachers, parents, students. I wanted to be creative with teaching so that all students could fit…”There is currently only one other learning centre like Amy’s in Ottawa based out of Barrhaven.

Curious to see and hear more?
Amy is opening the doors of her Little Big Learning Centre to welcome curious minds soon. An open house is in the plans. Stay tuned…

Visit their Facebook page, too!

Ottawa Montessori inspired learning centre

New Learning Centre for students aged 4-10. 

#1114 Summer Photo Adventures

Summer started well for groups of photo students who recently enjoyed Custom Photo Courses. We’ve been taking people out to extend their photo limits using their existing equipment.

We’re also preparing a Laurentians Photo Adventure for early summer 2016, below, for people wishing to challenge and explore their skills behind the camera.

Custom Photo Courses
Join us for individual attention or as a small group for our custom courses. We’ve been offering custom courses for many years. Read a recent review.

Photography Lessons

Custom Photo Course
Chelsea, Gatineau Park

Locations include central Ottawa, Gatineau Park. We use other locations, too.

Our most common course is a four hour, individual session for $350.
A two person, four hour session is $550 (or $275 each).

Material covered depends on your needs.
We’ve covered:
• beginner basics
• portraits
• advanced creativity

Contact us to book your summer photo adventure.

Photo course Gatineau

© Christine P.
Heritage cemetery.

2016 Laurentians Photo Adventure
Join us on a relaxing but immersive photography learning session next summer.

We combine a tranquil and comfortable base in the Laurentians bordered by a bike / walking path and the Rouge River.

Early July, 2106

night photography course

Night time Teepee Photography Laurentians Photo Adventure

We’ll be choosing from locations to best suit the weather and the group. Shooting locations and subjects could include:
• Tremblant Village
• Horses
• Gardens
• Rivers and Waterfalls
• Night time Teepee shooting
• Parc national du Mont Tremblant

Throughout the day you can expect:
• early morning shoots
• evening photography
• critique sessions
• time for relaxing & meals

Tremblant Photography Safari

Laurentians Photo Adventure

More important than the locations will be the support and creative stimulation you’ll receive on the adventure.

We are teaming up with a quiet Bed & Breakfast close to the action of Tremblant but a universe away. Our hosts provide a limited number of gorgeous B& B accommodations and attractive camping. You may choose your own accommodation when registering for the Laurentian Photo Adventure.

My family has stayed with them many times and explored the area for years.

Laurentians photo safari

Our hosts’ patio for post shooting relaxation and editing!

Breakfast is available at our base B&B. We will take care advantage of local restaurants and available eateries for lunches, snacks and dinners. Mid-day meals may include packed picnic lunches.

We will be traveling short distances – up to 30km to different photo sites. Most people will travel by personal vehicle or share driving with other participants. No transportation is included in the cost of the Laurentians Photo Adventure

garden photography

Our hosts’ gardens in the Laurentians

Costs include:
• photography instruction fee – early bird rate of $500 for 2 days on the adventure.
• accommodation for two nights. 2015 rates range  from camping @ $14/person/night or lovely B&B rooms from $99/night (single occ. Lover’s Loft) to $154/night (double occ. Garden Retreat); Other rates exist for different rooms.
• meals
• transportation
•extras that you wish to undertake

Photo Adventure spots and accommodation are limited as this is our hosts busiest time of year. Please contact us for more information and booking your adventure.

#1113 Rent our Preston St Studio!

Thanks for all your support. We had good interest in our Preston St. commercial space. We feel lucky to welcome Amy of the Little Big Learning Centre to our space. It’s a good match – we developed the space as a classroom for our photo workshop and it will soon be used as a learning centre. Check “Little Big” on their Facebook page, too!

If you read this blog regularly you’ll know I started supply teaching in elementary schools this spring and will continue a small photography service.

As a result we’re looking for your help to find a commercial tenant for our studio on Preston St. Know someone looking for commercial space? Let us know. We’re even offering a finder’s fee to land a solid tenant.

Ottawa downtown office space for rent

Preston St. Commercial Space for Rent

Location = Ottawa Studio Works; 160 Preston St, between Gladstone and Somerset.
Development in the area continues to bring new residents and intensified main street commerce.

Space Description
680 sq ft main floor plus access to basement space.
Possible uses:
• office space
• boutique retail
• studio
• health outlet (physio, chiro, yoga, doctor…)
• promotional sales centre
• gallery
• artist’s co-operative.
We’re open to creative tenancies – like a shared tenancy with three complimentary people or businesses sharing the space.

Commercial office space Ottawa

Office space at the studio

• Studio – 11×24 showroom / studio / classroom / gallery / boardroom. Gallery lighting illuminates the studio.
• 3 x supportive creative / office spaces; 7×10, 10×10 and 14×14 (unfinished basement creative space)
• Kitchen / bathroom.
• No car parking is currently available.
• A small backyard garden/patio allows you to relax.

Studio for rent Ottawa

Main studio space

Rent = $1450 + utilities per month.
Rent is below market value. Similar rental units on Bank St and the Byword Market can be double our cost or more. This is a chance to get into a growing commercial strip at an affordable time.

If you or someone you know could benefit, we’ll arrange a showing. We are offering a finder’s fee to anyone who helps facilitate a solid tenant. Contact.

Artist studio for rent

Events at the studio

#1112 Summer Photography Adventures – Custom Course Success

Recently, a past photo student called looking for help:
I understand technical photo elements but am struggling with compositions and creating photos that show what I feel when I see the scene.

A photo before her custom course:

Custom Photo Course

Photo before the Custom Photo Course – technically fine but lacking intimacy.

She booked a Custom Course and we met along the path of the Watershed project.

Within a morning session of pointed direction and gentle coaching, her photos improved quickly. They went from broad generic landscapes to alluring photos that pulled the viewer in:

Custom Photo Course

Photo taken during the Custom Photo Course.
Technically good but with more impact than before.

Her comments after the session:

What a fun morning I had in the Gats working my photographic edges with Harry.  He so brilliantly and sensitively identified my next edge to work so I could move closer to where I’m longing to be with my photos.

Bit by bit I began to discern the difference between when I’m hanging out ‘back there’ and when I ‘step in’.  I also began to see a difference in my photos, after just one session.  I learned so much in one morning.  Thank you Harry, and also for what I’ll use as mantras when I’m out there on my own practicing –  “step in”, “embrace it”.  “touch it”.”

One-on-One learning

Custom Course – Learning to see and build feeling into a photo.

Coming soon I’ll be announcing summer photo options including more custom courses (when, where and how you wish to learn), safaris and an opportunity to go on a Laurentian photo getaway.

Stay tuned.

#1111 – Art Auction and Art Show

I’m pleased to post news of two upcoming events at La Fab in Chelsea, Quebec.

1. Member’s Annual Show – La Fab
June 25 to August 2, 2015

Members exhibit works in this annual event. There will be a wide variety of work from talented artists.

I’ll be showing unique Watershed project photos captured directly onto the final paper within the large, home-made camera. The photos are one-of-a-kind.

Fortune Lake, Gatineau Park. Headwaters of Chelsea Creek.

Fortune Lake, Gatineau Park. Headwaters of Chelsea Creek.

A one-of-a-kind Sunstreak Cyanotype of Chelsea’s historic St Stephen’s Church will also be part of the show. Many of the artists above will be exhibiting works.

Large format originals

Sunstreak Cyanotype – St Stephen’s Church, Chelsea, Qc.

La Fab:
212, chemin Old Chelsea
Chelsea (Québec)
J9B 1J3
(819) 827 3326

For more information contact La Fab directly.

2. La Fab Auction Fundraiser
Sunday, June 21st, 2015

Coming up this Sunday is the centre’s annual fundraiser. Not only will you support a good cause by going but you could walk away with a fine piece of artwork by Jeff Stellick, Paula Murray, Reid McLachlan, Gail Bourgeois, Lisa Creskey, Becky Mason, Maureen Marcotte, Karen Goetzinger, Mike Beedell, Elisabeth Rutledge and Harry Nowell.

I have offered one of my favourite pieces from 8 years of shooting music festivals in the city.

Tickets available at La Fab, Ottawa School of Art or online.

Ottawa music festivals

Blues Bass

#1110 Creating Art Differently

Every class has students who would prefer to be doing something else.

In math class, some students would rather be playing football. In language, some students would rather be doing art. And in art, some would rather read.

Art Projects for Kindergarten

Art Projects for Kindergarten

I’ve been supply teaching regularly since I finished teacher’s college. In one period I was asked to have the students continue their pop-art projects (Andy Warhol-esque pictures). One student was clearly not conforming to the plan. He was just putting dots on his paper in a reluctant way.

I sat by him and asked how most new art forms started… He just stared at his paper and dotted defiantly.

I waited. No response…

So I offered an answer “By breaking the rules of art and trying new things… so you are creating new art ideas by breaking the rules.

He looked at me. “Really?


I made a deal with him… He could create what he wanted but he’d have to create something, however exploratory… His art would need to have purpose. It worked. His slouch disappeared and he started working on art in his own way.

Collaborative Classroom

Collaborative Classroom

Collaborative Problem Solving and Tribes training are popular, current approaches to engaging more students in school and life. The theories involve working together to produce a learning environment where all are included or empowered. It works better than expecting all to ‘conform’. The result is a student or students who are more open to their learning process.

I started working with the ideas behind these theories over 20 years ago when I worked with youth and adults at Outward Bound. The work back then ignited my love of teaching people how to learn.

#1109 “I hate math.”

I hate math,” said a grade 6 student last week in a class I was supply teaching.

He was obviously not enjoying (or doing) his assigned math work.

So I sat with him and asked “What DO you like?”
He: “Football.”
Me: “… Well, you know, football’s got a lot of math.”
He: Pause…
Me: “… (In a commentators voice) And the Redblacks are 2nd and 7 from the 8 yard line… That’s math. What do those numbers mean?… Measurement!”

Different Intelligences (Gardner)

Football Math

“What about when the QB throws the ball? How hard does he need to throw the ball to hit the moving running back right on target?”  I drew a diagram to help make the point.
“That’s math…”

“… And how can you predict who will win the football game? That deals with statistics and probabilities… math again.”

The student looked at me, quietly. I helped with his specific math challenge and let him on his way. I looked back a while later. My football math talk had worked…