You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks: Featuring Ted Burrowes and His Photography

When five-year-old Teddy Burrowes took a picture of a cow, who knew where that random moment would lead.  For most of his life, Ted has enjoyed photography, mainly as a form of documentation. But he has always cared about composition; even snapshots of his children warranted suitable backgrounds.

However, photography seemed destined always to be in his background, never in his foreground. Ted’s criteria for living a worthwhile life have always focused on making the world a better place and being a responsible steward of his time. Family, career, volunteering at hospice, and taking on many roles in the KaLex community took precedence over his artistic side. Even now, he wrestles with the idea that his photography might be merely self-indulgent, but part of him cannot deny wanting to honor his artistic craving.

For many people, including Ted, the era of COVID brought change. He has become more alert to seeing things, to developing an eye for what he likes. He joined two photography organizations, at first cautiously, starting with the Rockbridge Camera Club. They encouraged members to take and submit one photo per week, and Ted became hooked. He submitted 51 images during that 52-week challenge. He also helped form the KaLex Photo Gang where he enjoys the supportive camaraderie. The feedback he gets from both groups spurs his interest. Pleasing others—making them smile—helps to lessen his qualms. Ted is also grateful for the mentoring of Kendal at Lexington resident, Lad Sessions.

It’s no surprise that the man who programmed computers as a career, and who once resided in a geodesic dome, likes clean precise lines in his art. He sometimes wonders if he should have been an architect. His approach to photography is more structural than emotional, often with an asymmetrical balance. Now, more than ever, he cares about background. He wants his works to be provocative, sometimes with a perspective that’s unexpected and incongruous and shows an object out of its element, and sometimes the opposite, showing an object exactly in its place as though it can only be understood in relation to its surroundings.

Although he’s been refining his photography for several years, Ted has become increasingly restless, because there’s never enough time to immerse himself fully in cultivating his art. But a recent, long-thought-out decision promises growth. To the casual observer, it might seem that stepping away from his role as convener for the residents’ newsletter, Connections, while keeping his role as one of three layout editors, wouldn’t be that big a deal. But consider the fact that, for the past seven years, Ted continuously has been convener of at least one KaLex committee. For him, 2023 marks a new retirement, the start of a new era: the time for him to be, not the best person, but the best Ted he can be.

Ted Burrowes

The future for Ted is many things. It is prioritizing his fervor for photography. It is climbing the learning curve of digital photo manipulation. It is focusing on his art with the keen eyes of an eagle. It is traveling the road from photojournalism to wherever it leads, perhaps as far as the minimalism he already embraces in his equipment. “The best camera is the one you have with you,” he told me as he pulled his flat pocket-sized three-lensed iPhone from—where else—his pocket! Ted’s future is giving himself to himself, and I, for one, look forward to seeing the results.

Already Ted’s photographs have been displayed in the Resident Art Gallery, The Kendal Arts and Crafts Fair, Sweet Treats Bakery, Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center, Clifton Forge School of the Arts, the Rock-bridge Camera Club website, the Cornerstone Bank annual photo calendar, and, of course, Connections. In addition, Jessica Buhler (Marketing) adds that “We’re fortunate to be able to use Ted’s gorgeous photos of the campus to help showcase how beautiful Kendal at Lexington is.”

-—Lynda Fox (resident)- Originally written for the February 2023 Connections residents’ newsletter.