On Teaching and Photography By Michelle Gardella

I have tried meditating the traditional way. Sitting, back straight, silent, focusing on my breath. A way to observe my thoughts, to practice detachment and inch closer to peace. And I’m not saying that the traditional avenues are useless, in fact, they are profound. AND, for me, nothing brings me right back to my truest self like creating. Hands covered in clay, fingertips sticky with glue, clothes smeared with watercolors, a camera pressed against my face. THAT is my Home.

When I bring my camera to my eye, I am forced to shift into a space of appreciation, attention, and admiration. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the middle of anxiety or have a to-do list ten million miles long. Everything hushes and it’s just me and whatever is in my frame.

And my goodness, what a gift that is.

I have been teaching at DEFINE for many years now, and the truth is, it doesn’t really matter which class I’m teaching. It’s all about coming Home to ourselves, welcoming our innate talents and refining our way of seeing the world. Do I think my student’s work is incredible by the end of class? YES! I see the most growth in my Black and White class. But do I think that’s really what this is all about? Nope. The work that emerges from my classes, I believe, is a direct result of what happens when the heart meets the mind. When the tools in the toolbox provide the visual language to tell more powerful and impactful stories that have been waiting inside all along.

Sharing these gifts with others is a true honor. Of all the things I am in this world, being a teacher is at the very top.

I would love to have you in my February class. It’s the perfect season for curling up with a hot cup of tea, making a bunch of new friends from across the globe, and creating the best photos of your life.

Student work


Claire Whitehead


Corinna Robins


Erika Ray


Kierstan Bell


Lisa Lombardi


Megan Edwards


Meghan Seremet


Peta Hood


Mukarram Dadajonova


Wendy Alweyn


Melissa Baerwald

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