A 1st year Photography student, Liz shares a double room with Amelia in the Fyfield House Student Residence at Christie

Never an impressive student, although Liz always tried her best it never seemed to help. She is unaware that she, like many other chronically terrible spellers, has dyslexia. This learning disability makes reading much more challenging for her than it is for the average person.

Over the years her persistence has allowed her to develop strategies that at least allowed her to keep up, but academics were never the main event for Liz.

Being the tallest kid in the class all through school sealed her fate as a social misfit, as well as marking her as a natural target for teasing,

Before she started public school, Liz already had a best friend made in Sunday school. Being friends with a boy caused teasing, but Liz didn’t care, and she chose to stick by her boy friend. Liz never regretted this, because although it cost her the society of girls, she didn’t think she needed any more friends, she was happy to have the only one she felt she needed. That is, until she found herself cast aside after his catastrophic car accident. Liz resolved to do without friends in future.

When she got a camera as a birthday gift she became obsessed with photography. It was something she could understand and do almost instinctively. As her skill improved, her confidence increased. Her 6th grade teacher told her she was a “visual thinker.” and encouraged her in alternative learning methods.

Liz discovered that it isn’t so bad being an outsider if you have your own work to do, so she’s been fairly content to spend much of her life as a loner.

In high school the popular girls realised Liz was taking the lion’s share of the photographs for the yearbook, so she suddenly found herself sought after. Liz found it odd, and she didn’t much trust these girls who had done their best to make her early life miserable. So she continued doing her own thing, submitting good photographs to the yearbook committee without any care as to which clique was in the ascendant.

After high school she got a good job and moved out on her own, thinking she was finally free of school. Working as a professional photographer doing independent work for various insurance companies seemed the right thing to do, except that in today’s world a university degree is the new high school diploma. Without one, work is thin on the ground. Even when you manage to get a job as a photojournalist for the local newspaper, and prove your worth by turning in consistently good work, Liz discovered the salary is based less on skill than credentials, and promotion is unlikely without a degree.

Liz realized that she would have to go back to school, and discovered that one of her photojournalist roll models was teaching at Christie, so Liz started saving. Although Liz values her privacy a great deal, she couldn’t bypass the financial savings a shared residence would provide. Much to her surprise, she’s been getting along really well with her English Lit room mate. they even do things together sometimes.

Liz has also been pleasantly surprised at making friends with some of the students in her program. She’s never known anyone as committed to photography as she is, before. Never being included has also meant Liz has never had any close friends she could trust before. The thing that’s throwing her for a loop, though, is the terrible crush she has on Ethan. On the face of it, he seems the worst possible choice. Not only is he a smoker and, she thinks, a stoner, she has the idea he might not even be a Christian. Although she’s dated in the past, she’s never actually had a boyfriend before, and she’s not sure she actually wants one now.

Right now she has to catch up with all the digital stuff, and change the way she’s thought about photography all her life. Because for Liz, photography is the most important thing in real life. Photography defines her.

After her impromptu introduction to star gazing, Liz’s interest was piqued, so she started following Astronomy Today and started thinking about building herself a telescope with a permanent camera mount so she can take pictures of cool heavenly happenings like comets or eclipses. Maybe some day she’ll get a shot at taking shots through one of the big observatories, but this’ll do to get her started.

But because Liz is a visual thinker, instead of storing links in the usual way, she’s started a Pinterest board that allows her to maintain her links in a visual archive.

I’ve borrowed Liz’ features from John Singer Sargent’s 1885 “Portrait of Sally Fairchild” which is in the public domain. Singer’s painting was on display at the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, when it was photographed by Ed Bierman and shared on Flickr