Like many others who come to the Workshops, Ronnie Maher's motivation was to explore a new career. She had been photographing since she was a teenager but it was at this time that she felt it needed to have a larger presence in her daily life. Considering becoming a professional photographer, she was unwilling to commit herself to long-term study before exploring it a little deeper.
In 1995 she came to Rockport for a two week Photo II Workshop with Fred Schriber who she describes as an exceptional teacher. That was convincing enough for her to sign up for the one-year resident program, after which she returned to Norwalk, CT and began doing professional photography on a parttime basis. While in Maine she met David Spear, who was running the community outreach program for the International Center for Photography in New York. Maher soon began to assist in the ICP program, working with innercity students.
In 2001, she made the transition to full time wedding and portrait professional work. The following year, she was approached to help start a photography program at Briggs, the alternative high school in Norwalk, CT. Twice a week she teaches an after-school program in which the students, using point-and-shoot cameras, photograph their lives and their community. Maher feels it is important to focus on developing their vision initially and then when they "buy-in" teach them more of the craft. It's important that they "find their voice" and don't get bogged down in the technical until they are ready. The goal of the program is to give students access to the tools needed to tell their stories; to allow them to see the world more objectively and appreciate it in a new way. While the program does not aim to make photographers out of all of the students, a few have gone on to study at the college level.
In 2005 Maher volunteered to go to Nagarote, Nicaragua, Norwalk's sister city, to do a workshop based on the Briggs program. The one-week workshop expanded into a regular project class meeting biweekly. The Nicaragua Photo Project, Nica Photo, is in its forth year and Maher, a board member, now makes trips 34 times a year to work with the students and give teacher training.
Along with all this, Maher has kept her own photographic career going. She continues to do wedding and portrait work. She has returned to Rockport to study alternative processes with Christopher James and to take a teaching workshop with Christopher and Craig Stevens. "With my travel schedule today I'm only sorry I can't get up to Maine for workshops like I had in the past," says Maher.