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A journey behind the lens

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By Bernadette Lauritzen

As the daughter of a professional photographer, Maria Thibodeau spent much of her childhood in front of the camera.
“I thought having hundreds of pictures of any occasion was the norm, Thibodeau said, “I remember my mother calling on me to help her test new equipment or ideas — of course, this was in the film days, and she’d have to write down her camera settings after each shot.”
Today, she is the photographer. While that’s not her day job — she graces the halls as a teacher at Los Alamos High School — it’s as passion on the side with her.
The switch from being in front of to behind the camera is always a revelation when one realizes that they prefer to be behind the lens. The benefit was that through her experience as her mother’s test model she gained a certain awareness.
Thibodeau has a knack for what her photography subjects are feeling and how to put them at ease with her kindness, demeanor and sense of humor.
Born and raised in Martha’s Vineyard, schooled at the University of Kent at Canterbury, Thibodeau wanted a change that was far removed from her hometown. She spent time in Los Angeles before arriving in Los Alamos and has been here for three years.
As an English teacher, she often gets posed the question, “What is your favorite book?” The concept and resulting answer is equally as great as the equivalent of the photographer’s question, “Do you have a favorite photo?”
While the artist is mum on the exact answer, she does admit to a favorite subject.
“If I had to choose a favorite subject, it’s children, definitely,” said Thibodeau. “Photographing children is like chasing bubbles — just the right touch and they’re luminescent.”
What makes her a great photographer is the joy she has in capturing the moment and the gift of giving that captured moment, to another.
“My favorite part of being a photographer is taking pictures, of course, especially the deep satisfaction of the shutter closing on a fantastic shot, when the resultant image matches the vision I saw just before I took it,” she said.
Thibodeau worked her way into the hearts of local families this summer taking photographs of LAHS seniors, before the start of the school year.
Thibodeau embraces the individual when making a plan to shoot her subjects with questions to the parent and student about goals, vision and what they hope to capture most.
Those interested can stroll through her digital gallery to see if she offers what they have in mind whether it’s planning a spring time memory capture to document the growth of the past school year, have family coming in for a recital or getting ready for those senior portraits.
Visit her at mariawritingwithlight.com.