Lo­cal teen pho­tog­ra­pher cap­tures mo­ments to cher­ish

Emma Ket­terer, 15, Kutz­town, this month’s fea­tured artist at Ham­burg Art Gallery

The Hamburg Area Item - - Front Page - By Lisa Mitchell lmitchell@ 21st- cen­tu­ry­media. com @ kutz­town­pa­triot and ham­bur­gitem on Twit­ter

The Art & Craft Gallery of Ham­burg’s fea­tured artist for July was Kutz­town teen pho­tog­ra­pher Emma Ket­terer, 15, a mem­ber of the Ham­burg Area Arts Al­liance. The gallery hosted an artist re- cep­tion on July 20.

“It’s sur­real ( show­ing in the gallery). We started out so small at a flea mar­ket and now we’re at a bunch of dif­fer­ent stores all over Berks County so it is re­ally cool to have that sort of reach and au­di­ence,” said Emma dur­ing the artist re­cep­tion. “So much en­cour­age­ment ( from peo­ple). I would have loved this even if it was just solely me who got to en­joy it but hav­ing so many peo­ple re­spond­ing, just lov­ing it the way I love it is re­ally great... Pho­tog­ra­phy seems like such a sim­ple way to share your life with other peo­ple.”

Ham­burg painter Brian War­fel, a mem­ber of the Art Al­liance, came out to meet Emma at the artist re­cep­tion.

“She has a very sharp eye and knows where the shot is. I’m drawn to that,” said War­fel. “With her med­i­cal dif­fi­cul­ties, she’s very high spir­ited and seems very pos­i­tive... It’s fan­tas­tic that she has an out­let like this and is also very good at it. I think it’s pretty im­pres­sive.”

Tilden Town­ship pho­tog­ra­pher Jay Ressler, also a mem­ber of the

Art Al­liance, typ­i­cally at­tends the artist re­cep­tions to show sup­port to lo­cal artists.

“I’ve been want­ing to meet Emma. I’ve seen her pho­tos around for awhile. She’s got quite a good eye.”

Last year Emma was named Bud­ding Artist by Danc­ing Tree Cre­ations in Boy­er­town. She be­gan tak­ing pho­tos around her 12th birth­day when Lyme dis­ease stripped her of her ac­tive life, even pre­vent­ing her from go­ing to school.

Her mother, SuEllen Ket­terer, said pho­tog­ra­phy has helped Emma.

“Her pho­tog­ra­phy has helped her feel pro­duc­tive when she could do lit­tle else. She gets such sat­is­fac­tion in cap­tur­ing just the right light­ing for that per­fect shot. She also en­joys mak­ing peo­ple smile.”

Be­ing able to show her pho­tog­ra­phy at lo­cal gal­leries and busi­nesses has val­i­dated Emma’s tal­ent and brought her joy as she brings others joy. The pho­tog­ra­phy has also helped them spread aware­ness about Chronic Lyme Dis­ease and maybe pre­vent others from go­ing mis­di­ag­nosed for so long.

Her mother said Emma con­tin­ues to strug­gle with her health on a con­sis­tent ba­sis and still suf­fers from in­som­nia, ex­haus­tion, and brain fog, which pre­vents her from at­tend­ing school but she is slowly work­ing through her classes on­line.

“These chal­lenges have forced Emma to slow down so as not to miss the pre­cious mo­ments of life, which most of us are too busy to catch. Her strong char­ac­ter and ma­tu­rity are be­yond her years, and she does not take life for granted like most peo­ple do,” said SuEllen. “Even now when she’s able to do more school­work and those sorts of things, it gives her joy and she loves bring­ing other peo­ple joy, that she can cap­ture these spe­cial mo­ments. All of these pho­tos are doc­u­men­ta­tion of her hav­ing a good day so it’s very spe­cial for us.”

Emma agrees that the pho­tog­ra­phy has been a huge help to her health and well be­ing. While her health has been im­prov­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy con­tin­ues to help get her out. The pho­tog­ra­phy and the com­mu­nity sup­port has been up­lift­ing, she said.

“Just keep look­ing for all the great mo­ments in life you want to share,” said Emma.

Lin­ing up the shot to take a pho­to­graph, Emma feels ex­cited when she finds that scene she wants to cap­ture in a pho­to­graph.

“I al­ways feel good when I have a cam­era in my hands.”

Pho­tog­ra­phy has helped her to be more ob­ser­vant. She takes her cam­era on fam­ily trips to places like the beach, Long­wood Gar­dens, and New York City, but the ma­jor­ity of her pho­to­graphs are of lo­cal scenes and an­i­mals such as horses, cows, cats and her fa­vorite, deer.

“I think what I like most about pho­tog­ra­phy is how hon­est it is,” said Emma. “I go about my day, I see some­thing raw and beau­ti­ful, and I can’t help but think that it’s a mo­ment that de­serves to be cher­ished. And I love that it’s so easy to then share those mo­ments with any­one, re­gard­less of where they live or the lan­guage they speak.”

Emma ex­plained that her love for pho­tog­ra­phy be­gan with a gift from you her un­cle, his old Canon 20d, for her 12th birth­day. About six months be­fore this she had be­come ill, and it was around the time of her birth­day that the symp- toms be­gan to worsen ex­po­nen­tially.

“Most days I was too weak to get out of bed, let alone at­tend school or par­tic­i­pate in the many sports and ex­tra- cur­ric­u­lars that I had been in­volved in. When I re­ceived that cam­era for my birth­day I had ab­so­lutely no clue how to use it, but I think in a way it was that chal­lenge that at­tracted me to pho­tog­ra­phy,” she said. “When you’re 12 years old and you’re not even able to read any­more, the prospect of some­thing new and in­cit­ing that fits within your lim­i­ta­tions isn’t just ex­cit­ing, it’s life chang­ing.”

Ex­per­i­ment­ing with pho­tog­ra­phy and learn­ing her way around the cam­era through sim­ply trial and er­ror pro­vided her a stress­free way to push her­self and ex­pe­ri­ence the world, even if the days when she was able to were rare, said Emma.

“As my con­di­tion wors­ened, my pho­tog­ra­phy left me with a phys­i­cal im­age that I could turn to as a re­minder that I was try­ing my hard­est. Pho­tog­ra­phy be­came such an im­por­tant part of my life so quickly that just two years af­ter I picked up my first cam­era my grand­mother and mother be­gan sell­ing my pho­tos at lo­cal mar­kets and fes­ti­vals,” said Emma. “From there it just kind of took off, but af­ter four years my rea­son be­hind tak­ing pho­tos hasn’t changed.”

When Emma first started tak­ing pho­tos she would tell peo­ple that pho­tog­ra­phy was her way of find­ing the beau­ti­ful mo­ments in her life de­spite her ill­nesses. has helped teach me to see every mo­ment of my life as beau­ti­ful, ill­nesses and all. Ev­ery­one has their own strug­gle, and I sup­pose it’s my hope that shar­ing my pho­tos with others will spread that pos­i­tiv­ity and their own sur­round­ings,” said Emma. “And, of course, if a photo of a ze­bra’s butt ( hey, it’s a crowd fa­vorite) can brighten even one per­son’s day then it’ll all have been worth it.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Kutz­town pho­tog­ra­pher Emma Ket­terer, 15, tak­ing pho­tos while out on a fam­ily trip. Her pho­to­graphs are on dis­play at the Art & Craft Gallery of Ham­burg.

Photo by Kutz­town pho­tog­ra­pher Emma Ket­terer, 15.

“I think since then I’ve re­al­ized that pho­tog­ra­phy maybe even help them to ap­pre­ci­ate the beauty in

Photo by Kutz­town pho­tog­ra­pher Emma Ket­terer, 15.

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