07 Mar Learning Disabilities & How Modelling Gave Me Direction
“Follow your dreams, believe in yourself and don’t give up.” –unknown
Warning this is going be dry for the first bit but I swear it gets better, keep reading please. My story is actually positive.
In elementary school it didn’t take the teacher long to realize I wasn’t learning at the same pace as other kids. They let me go on to grade 2 though. Grade two I stood out like a sore thumb. I couldn’t read so I was exempted from some lessons to spend time in a small room learning how to read with a very sweet teacher Mrs. Nickles. I can’t believe I remember her name. I believe grade 2 was the year I failed a grade. It never was clear when I was put back because I kept moving on with the class of the kids I started with but was continuously taken out of class to focus on reading. I didn’t know any difference. It became clear as day when my grade crossed the stage to graduate grade 3 and I didn’t. Even if I was in the same class. My parents explained I needed more time. So instead of staying in the same school and repeating grade 3, I was sent to another school that offered special education classes. In these classes there were usually 8 students total in until I was brought back into a regular sized class in grade 7. I went to lots of learning specialist. I had to wear some funky purple glasses while I read… apparently that was the solution to dyslexia. Who knew?! haha I have got to give credit to my parents and the specialist, at least they were trying to understand my complicated dysfunctional brain. I went on with school like everyone else but had to work my ass off to get Bs in high school and in university C’s. Unless I was taking easier classes like psychology then I got A’s. Haha Why did I major in law?
So what happens to people who have learning disabilities? I turned to the arts. I can’t talk for everyone else. My friends (also with learning disabilities) went in different direction. Two of them became teachers, one became a hair stylist, and another is still trying to figure out where she belongs. There is misconception that people with learning disabilities are stupid. That’s absolutely not true at all. There are many ways of learning and the way the school system is (or was when I was in it) is only focused on a specific way. I didn’t blend even though I tried more than most people I knew. I didn’t have much of a social life because even with an A type personality my brain wouldn’t understand what it was being asked of it. Modelling was my saviour.
I turned to modelling as a relief. It was fun and exciting and creative. For once in my life I excelled at something and understood what was asked of me and I went beyond that. I would study photographs on my time away from the books. I even took two years off in the middle of university and spent the time working and modelling. I did return and got my BA but the two years off were great and well needed.
Studying modelling was nothing like reading boring law textbooks and case law. I would look through many photographers work and examine why I liked their images. And if I didn’t like their work I would figure out what I didn’t like. I would seek out the photographers I liked (mostly from Toronto) and go and work with them. I went as far as Las Vegas to work with great photographers. I learned so much in my years of modelling. I didn’t even know I was learning. I loved getting absorbed into amazing photographer’s work. I would sit in Chapters and spend hours looking through magazines. I didn’t stay in the current era. I would adventure to the aisles where the photography books were and look through old vogue magazines and the classics. It was actually a lot of fun.
After finishing University I decided it would be fun to buy a beginner camera and take a basic digital photography course at Algonquin. I dragged my friend Andy into the course with me. He loved it and so did I. Although I never took another photography course my learning didn’t stop. I would watch youtube videos on editing and read books after books on photography. Then when I thought I read most photography books my uncle, who is an amazing photographer, gave me all his old books and magazines. I also took up second shooting jobs and even volunteered my time and shadowed talented photographers at weddings. I am still learning but starting my own photography business. I quit my day job in August 2017 and have been living solely off photography. I still find time to do free shoots when I have creative urges. But I am really happy with what I have accomplished. School does not define you. Your report cards don’t define you. What defines you is finding what makes your heart race and you should follow that. For me that is photography and I am so glad modelling lead me to where I am today. Although I don’t model anymore I still reminisce about the times I did. Even now when I listen to the Beatles music it takes me back to my modelling trips when I would sit back on the train ride and listen to their music. I am happier being a photographer now. I feel the my modelling era has come and gone and I am on a new adventure in the world of photography.