Hail to the Chief: A Parting Tribute to Carly Geis

The first time I heard of Carly Geis was in an email naming her as the person picking me up from the airport for my first visit to Wake Div. A year later, I am convinced that this will not be the last time I see her name in print. She plays what seems like an unending stream of essential roles in our community—SLC secretary, Communion bread baker, in-house photographer, and our editor-in-chief at The Tablet, and we are going to miss her dearly.

When and how did you start taking pictures?

Carly: I had gotten a camera initially—it was a point-and-shoot Canon—I intended to bring it to a Paul McCartney concert with my dad. But he said the FedEx Forum wouldn’t allow cameras. But he was very wrong, and to this day, I hold it over his head. After that, I started going to different parks, taking pictures, and discovered that I was actually not bad at it.

What impact has being at Wake Div had on your photography?

Carly: I’ve had a lot of fellow students ask me to take pictures for them, which has grown me as a photographer, just with the diversity of our students. And, to actually have people willing to pay for my work is really cool.

You mentioned self-work as something that led you to divinity school. How would you say your creative outlets help you balance the knotty-ness (not naughtiness) of all the self-work we do as divinity students?

Carly: You know when scientists tell you to study before you sleep because when you sleep all the stuff that you just read gels in your brain? For me, I feel like doing photography is the same kind of process: I’ve found it to be an insightful outlet, like insight through creativity.

How have those insights changed you as an artist?

Carly: Photographing people from all different walks of life has required me to get to know them so that I can best represent them. That takes a lot of humility to say: Yes, this is my work, but my work is reflective of the people I’m taking pictures of, not of my desire for what they should look like… I believe that the best pictures are candids. For example, with couples, I’ll ask them: how do you usually show affection to each other in public? And I find a way to get them to do that instead of telling them to stand in awkward positions that they would never normally stand in.

I know that you’re going on to study counseling. As you look forward, how do you think you’ll continue to integrate your creative passions?

Carly: I wrote in my personal statement that I see counselling as similar to photography. Good photographers only use editing to enhance the beauty that’s already within the images. In counseling, you’re not trying to manipulate the person into becoming who the counselor thinks they should be; you’re just helping to enhance the beauty that’s already in front of you.

To close, what is one thing you hope for Wake Div in the future, and one thing for The Tablet?

Carly: Are you sure you want me to answer that? [laughs] What I hope for Wake Div…  To respectfully engage in conversation with people who are different from you and to have respectful conversations about those people who are different from you with people who look like you. For the Tablet… I want for it to be something that’s fun and that is a creative outlet for writers.  

Davita DesRoches
Davita DesRoches is a first-year student at Wake Div. Her passions include drinking (hot) tea, smashing the patriarchy, and giving brief sermons on Canadian history and culture to her American peers.

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