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Camera-ready lifestyle

Maris Grove resident follows his bliss, digital photography

Created date

August 23rd, 2011

If it s 6 a.m., John Toutkaldjian is out walking at Maris Grove, an Erickson Living community in Glen Mills, Pa. My concept, he says, is stay active and do what you can do as long as you can do it. So he also works occasionally as a residential appraiser. He says he likes to get out and about and keep his mind stimulated. John s real passion, however, is digital photography, and he belongs to three photography groups. That s the privilege of retirement, he says. I can devote more time to things I really want to do. John s wife, Berj, was the driving force behind the couple s move to Maris Grove (a not-for-profit continuing care community) from a house in a nearby over-55 community. As she saw the toll it took on John and his two sisters to provide full-time care during the last year of their mother s life, Berj determined their own children wouldn t have that burden. The couple s two-bedroom, one-bath Franklin-style apartment home was also her decision. I came more or less unwillingly because of two things I feared most, downsizing and space considerations, John admits. Now I enjoy it.

Photo clubs share time, treasure

John is president of Maris Grove s photo club, an inclusive group of point-and-shoot photographers and those with sophisticated equipment. The club has an on-campus photography studio and maintains a permanent display window in Maris Grove s creative arts studio to showcase members photos. On the club s six annual field trips, The idea is to shoot pictures of something and discuss with one another the issues we encounter, says John. The more experienced people help the less experienced. In August, they ll photograph the gardens and grounds of the Hagley Museum and Library along the Brandywine River in Wilmington, Del. At the September meeting, they ll load those images into the club s computer, project them onto a large screen, and discuss them.

Bringing outside experts in

While John s second photo club, the Photo Digits, isn t a campus club, John arranged for it to meet at Maris Grove. The Digits say thanks by holding twice-a-year campus camera clinics where residents can receive one-on-one advice at no charge. Residents are also welcome to attend Photo Digits meetings; there s no fee. While novices at computer enhancement of images might feel overwhelmed at first, John says they ll learn a lot. The photography group John leaves campus for is the Delaware Photographic Society. He joined for its high-quality programs and monthly photo competitions. Its members page at shows some of John s work.