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Woman Enjoys 'Gifts of Nature' Through Her Photography

MaryAnn Schunk used to process negative images, but there is nothing negative about the way she sees the world around her.

Not one detail of nature can escape MaryAnn Schunk's watchful eye. She looks up to the blue sky and something immediately creates a picture in her mind, striking her as beautiful or interesting.

"I see things around me," said the 83-year-old Yorktown woman and avid photographer. "I'm very in tune with the world around me – I don't miss a bird on the tree."

Photography has long been one of MaryAnn's special interests. 

"From the time when I processed black-and-white prints in a darkroom back in the 50s, till now when I use the magic of digital cameras and the computer to enhance them, it has intrigued me," she said.

MaryAnn first got her hands on developing black-and-white images when she went down to the dark room where her husband was processing his images – he was was working part time as a wedding photographer in addition to his full time job. 

"One day I did it myself and I was intrigued," she said. "It's a fascinating hobby."

But that hobby ended when her husband sold his business and she had no longer access to the equipment. The family moved from Buffalo to Yorktown in the 1960s.

"Photography slipped into the background as I went through life, raising eight children and going on into a real estate career spanning 35 years, and acquiring 20 grandchildren," she said. 

When she retired, she did some traveling, pursued new hobbies, built and furnished a doll house, and got back into photography in 2008. 

MaryAnn currently has a photo exhibit that will run during the entire month of March at in Jefferson Valley, . She said some of her photos, which were taken outside her home, were inspired by the natural beauty of the lakes and streams, lush foliage and mountainous terrain of the area.   

Her photographs are for sale at $50 and include the frame. Photos include doves nesting just outside her window, the big red tree in her backyard, the Hunter Brook stream and the woods in her own neighborhood, among others.  

MaryAnn said she didn't know she'll pick up photography as her hobby, but her curiosity and energy to take on new activities comes from her view of the world. As cliche as it might sound, she said, she stops and smells the roses every day. 

"I haven't decided what I'll be in life yet," she said. "I'm letting it unfold."

Besides photography, she enjoys solving jig saw puzzles and crossword puzzles, as well as decorating. She wants to write a book about what it's like to have a big family (she is one of 13 kids), what she has learned in life and what it's like to join the "80s age club." 

Through her photos, she hopes people can learn to take the time to enjoy the world around them. Every morning, as she wakes up, she has her coffee and wonders what opportunities this new day would present.

"It's ever beautiful," she said of the world around her. "Take the time to enjoy all the free gifts of nature. Life is pleasant and it has to be acknowledged."

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Robert Surabian March 15, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Nice job, MaryAnn, especially the doll house shots. If you could get in closer and get rid of the background, you could fool a lot of people.
Jo Ann Coogan March 16, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Hi MaryAnn: I had the lovely experience of viewing your photos. You are a "natural"! Very gifted and talented and thank you for sharing the view of your world around you with others. Take care. Jo Ann Coogan Coldwell Banker- Yorktown Hgts

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