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Diary of a Photographer ~ Ryan Gattis Visits Firebaugh High School in Lynwood

11:18 AM PST on February 29, 2016

Ryan Gattis invited me to document a guest speaking engagement he was doing at Firebaugh High School in Lynwood. How could I say no to this opportunity? For those of you not familiar with Ryan Gattis he is a member of the artist collective UGLARworks, and is a writer who last year published the book "All Involved", a fictional novel about the 1992 riots. One of the key characters in the novel is the city of Lynwood, A small working class community east of South Central Los Angeles that was greatly affected by the riots.

RyanGattis_FirebaughHS (1 of 13)
RyanGattis_FirebaughHS (8 of 13)

Ryan was there to speak with students about reading, writing and his personal story. Students were already familiar with the name Ryan Gattis after viewing a TED Talk he conducted at his alma mater Chapman University in August of 2015. Questions asked by students were thoughtful and relevant. Ryan spoke of his upbringing, tattoos, personal inspirations and his career.

At one point during his visit with Theatre students instead of his Q&A, Gattis started with an actual lesson for the class. He had students get into groups, and conducted a mental & written exercise. It was a spur of the moment thing that Gattis did not plan in advance. It was fascinating to see Ryan in the role of instructor-- he was present and engaged and asked questions, gave advice and shared knowledge with each group.

RyanGattis_FirebaughHS (3 of 13)
RyanGattis_FirebaughHS (4 of 13)

Gattis also visited the school library, where he gifted books courtesy of Ecco (HarperCollins), Picador (Pan Macmillan), & Writers House. As he met with the school librarian Gattis point out books of relevance for these young scholars that will engage and challenge them.

In those few hours I myself was able to get to know Ryan on a more personal & professional level. It was inspiring to watch him share his passion for writing and in turn inspiring others to push through adversity and move forward with their goals as he has. Personally, I got a lot more from this speaking engagement than just photos and a story. Keep up with Ryan Gattis on IG via @ryan_gattis and check out his website

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