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Benevolent photography

John Toutkaldjian uses his photographs to aid others

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July 10th, 2017
Photographer John Toutkaldjian discusses one of his photos with a Maris Grove neighbor. He sells his photos to benefit the community’s Resident Care Fund.

Photographer John Toutkaldjian sells his photos to his Maris Grove neighbors to benefit the community’s Resident Care Fund.

Maris Grove, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa., is fertile territory for photographers. 

Its beautifully landscaped grounds, wooded glens, and location within the Brandywine Valley provide inspiring year-round subject matter.

John Toutkaldjian takes full advantage of those opportunities. 

Local camera clubs

“Visual communication was always a part of my life,” he says. 

When John retired after more than 40 years in video production, first with ABC and its parent company Capital Cities, and then as head of his own company making video programs for corporate and educational markets, he took up serious still photography. 

“Still photography is individualistic, like painting or sculpting,” he says. “From the push of the button to the final print, you can do it yourself. To the extent of my skill and artistic bent, I can achieve those things that satisfy me.”

John’s cameras came with him when the Toutkaldjians moved from a 55-plus community in Boothwyn to Maris Grove, and he helped found the campus camera club.

As his photographic goals and interests evolved, he joined the Photo Digits, a group of more serious photographers. Although most members live outside of Maris Grove, John arranged for the group to meet on campus.

His collection of photos totals 600 to 800 images ranging from notecard to poster size. 

“My goal now is personal satisfaction and sharing my gifts,” John says. “I thought I should make use of my photos to benefit others.”

So this past April and again in September, he’s selling his photos and donating all proceeds to Maris Grove’s Resident Care Fund. The fund supports community members who experience a genuine and unforeseen change in their financial situation. Maris Grove’s home for life commitment provides several options for people to protect their future; full details are in the Residence and Care Agreement.

It’s not the first time he’s aided the fund. John has sold copies of his book of gorgeous Maris Grove photos, and this winter he’s collaborating on a project with his fellow members of the campus woodshop. 

Using a process he developed to transfer photos to wood, the club can produce custom-made gifts such as plaques or even puzzles that feature community members’ photos.

John’s commitment to the resident care fund stems from his background.

“My dad died when I was 7, and I went to an orphanage for 11 years,” he says. “Part of my makeup consists of being very security conscious. Throughout our lives, my wife and I have saved up for the things we want.”

John recognizes how a large community like Maris Grove can help protect people when an unforeseen financial situation arises. 

“My interest is to contribute to this fund to let my fellow residents maintain the life they’ve created for themselves here,” he says. “It’s something I’ve been concerned with all my life.”

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