Photo by Claudia Parker
Claudia Parker is retiring as a columnist so she can pursue other projects, like this recent assignment taking photos of a 2017 graduate.
“When one door closes, another one opens…”
--Alexander Graham Bell
Cheers to new beginnings!
Last Saturday, I shot senior portraits for a 2017 graduate who said, “Do whatever you want,” she shrugged. “You’re the photographer, I trust you.”
My mind looped with endless possibilities. “I’ve got this,” I told her. “Let’s try something fun!” I then proceeded to direct her to pose in four unique ways holding a picture frame. We were shooting in, The Park, in front of the barn in Evergreen Park at 91st and California.
She wasn’t sure why she was holding a blank frame or even why I kept yelling, “OK, now switch poses and move to your right,” after each shot. Gratification came once she saw the finished product. Using Photoshop I had taken four photos and merged them into one composite. The frame she had held with each pose was no longer blank, there was a different number on each that read 2-0-1-7, with her name horizontally spread across the entire photo, boasting of her class of 2017 accomplishment.
“This is so cool, I love it,” she gushed.
If there were four of me, I’d be able to continue this career as a correspondent, columnist, freelance photographer and director of communications/district photographer for Evergreen Park Elementary School District 124.
But, there’s only one me!
I can no longer be all things to all people. Therefore, I’ve decided to remove a few items from the plate to make room for a fresh entrée. I’ve planted good seed, watched it grow and now it’s time to eat from the fruit of my labor.
Especially since I have a husband, two small children, and investment real estate properties to manage.
We can’t benefit from a garden we’ve planted if we never stop planting to pick the fruit. Being deliberate about when to plant and when to prune is what keeps a garden/life organized.
With that said, I’ve resigned from District 124 effective June 2 and I’ve also decided to turn my keys in on I, Claudia. This is my last submission.
The Reporter opened its doors to me as a correspondent in August of 2013, becoming the automated opener to working in School District 124, two years later in August of 2015.
Both The Reporter and D124 have helped me grow tremendously as a journalist and photographer. Not to mention my savvy public relations abilities, which was acknowledged with an Award of Excellence presented by the Illinois Public Relations Association in 2016 with a Distinguish Service Award.
My first editor here at The Reporter, Jeff Vorva, graciously trained me up to where I needed to be. When he transitioned into sports editor a couple of years ago, I was full of anxiety. “Oh my God, what if the ‘new guy’ doesn’t appreciate my work like you?”
“You’re going to be fine,” said Vorva reassuringly. “Joe’s a great guy.”
Vorva was right. Joe Boyle has been a wonderful editor to work with. I’ve enjoyed him, his feedback is balanced and always constructive. Most of the time he’s complimentary, which always leaves my heart full with gratitude. I’ve doubted myself many times. “Is this mic on? Am I even making a dent of difference with this platform?”
That’s the tricky part in life. Sometimes our work can produce an immediate positive result, but that’s not typical. Most of the time we have to dig. At times it can feel as though we’ve been digging with no end in sight for the well we’re seeking to sustain us. It doesn’t mean it isn’t there, or that it isn’t close, it just might mean we need to reposition ourselves.
That’s what I’m doing, repositioning!
In the film, “The Social Network,” there’s a scene where Larry Summers, the Harvard president, agrees to hear the complaints of the Winklevoss twin brothers, who want Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, punished by the university for allegedly stealing their idea for the social media network. Mr. Summers refuses to entertain their grievance. In fact, what he told them stained me like grape juice on a white shirt.
“Harvard undergraduates believe that inventing a job is better than finding a job,” rebuked Summers. “I suggest the two of you come up with a new project.”
That’s exactly what I intend to do.
It’s time I put that St. Xavier MBA degree to use and try my hand at entrepreneurship. You may not see me every second and fourth Thursday, or toting my camera bag about D124, but I’ll be around the community — lurking for a subject to shoot through the lens of my Nikon.
Thank you for being receptive to my work. If you weren’t I’m sure I would have received my walking papers by now. I’ve managed to keep a byline for four years and your loyalty means a lot to me. I value each one of you.
Each time you’ve reached out through email or recognized me within the community, I’m always thrilled to learn how something I’ve written has touched you in a positive way. I pray that this last entry will evoke you to make a change in your own life. Does it really require a school roster for us to be reminded we’re meant to be progressive people?
Let’s not let the Class of 2017 leave without us. Opportunities are plentiful, so let’s venture out to find them with Godspeed.