Digital Cameras Wanted For Low-Income Baby-Boomer Shutterbugs

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On Tuesday, Beacon Media got a chance to meet some of the senior shutterbugs at the end of their 12 week course. Ron Talley, the instructor, helps seniors display their work at Arcadia County Park -Photos by Terry Miller

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Marion Tyrell, 90, plays tennis almost every day but took time off her robust schedule to take the class – She is picture in the center with other photo students as they view each other’s work


Baby boomers learning photography and social media for the first time are opening new doors of communication with family and friends, and are finding inspiration resulting in artistic commentaries that celebrate their personal and collective stories, values, and cultural neighborhoods. Unfortunately, a majority of them lack their own cameras, and Theatre of Hearts, the non-profit providing the 12-week class for free, can only provide loaner cameras for participants.

Theatre of Hearts is seeking the donations of 50 digital cameras so it can provide participants with permanent ones, which will enable them to continue with photography after they finish the class. Called the Creative Aging in Residence (CAAIR) class, it marks Theatre Of Heart’s newest initiative and its first for seniors. The non-profit deploys professional fine arts photographers to teach the classes.

“The populations we are serving have no prior experience in fine art photography and lack the resources to take a class of this nature,” says Theatre of Hearts Director and Founder, Sheila Scott-Wilkinson. “By providing CAAIR class for free, these baby boomers are not only learning the ways digital cameras, technology and social media function, they are also seeing the world through the eyes of an artist.”

Theatre of Hearts respectively asks that donors provide functional new or used digital cameras, including charger for battery and memory. Tax deductible receipts are provided. For more information on how to donate, contact the non-profit at 213-384-6878.

In addition to improvements in memory and cognitive ability, feedback from program participants on the social benefits is a powerful testimony to the impact the program is providing:

“I am a senior revisiting what I did as a youth,” says Debbie Prohias, an Arcadia County Park participant “Technology has mushroomed from what we had before. I can’t wait for the next class; there is so much to learn. It has opened up a great vista, it is another way to express myself. People should take this class because of the ability to socialize. When I walk down the street, I can open up a conversation and meet people. It’s an artistic thing”.

“Even though we’re all neighbors, none of us really knew each other”, says Lillie Jones at Seasons at Compton, LINC Housing. “After taking this class and working and learning and laughing together each week. We’ve become like a little family.”

“I am writing, and thinking about photojournalism. My sister and I are exchanging our works, and it is really fun,” says Pamela Troumbly, a participant at Glendale Adult Recreation Center.

Wanda McGuire, a student at St. Barnabas Center for Seniors, Pico Union, shares “This was a very informative and enlightening class. I loved learning to use my camera, about lines and texture and ways to work with light, shadow, and color.”

New classes begin in September. The CAAIR class is funded by The James Irvine Foundation-Exploring Engagement Fund.

Founded in 1987, it is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation whose vision is to promote understanding between people through cultural and artistic forums, and to empower local communities through education in the arts. More information is available at

July 25, 2014

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