By Dave Block ’93

Greta Bergstresser lives outside Brodheadsville, Pa., in the Poconos with her five-year-old son, Grant, and her partner, Zack. She started working at Lafayette in 2007, teaching in the Art Department, and joined Information Technology Services in 2016.

What are your responsibilities in ITS?

I am the technology training coordinator, which entails designing technology-centered training for the Lafayette community for WordPress, G Suite, Kaltura, Qualtrics, accessibility, web conferencing, and more. I work with people one on one and provide consultations about how processes and workflows can be improved or streamlined as well as general information about how to use the tools.

What are your responsibilities in the Art Department?

I teach all forms of photography including digital, analog, and alternative processes.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work?

COVID-19 increased the amount of training that was needed in a very short timeframe and has been a really busy time for myself and the other members of the Learning and Research Technologies team and ITS at large. I was also teaching a Black and White Photography course this spring that required a complete re-thinking of the class once students lost access to the darkroom.  My students ended up taking cameras home with them and mailing me their film so I could process it in my bathroom. They did an amazing job, and I am really proud of what they accomplished in the circumstances.

What's been the most difficult part of it?

The most difficult part (as I’m sure it has been for others) is finding a balance between work life and home life when the demands on my time are so great. I also greatly miss the time with my colleagues. I work with some amazing people, and I miss seeing their happy faces every day.

What, if any, unexpected positives have you seen during this time?

One benefit of working remotely is how much more time Grant and I have gotten to spend together.  It has been really wonderful to spend so much time together.

What made you fall in love with photography?

I’ve loved photography from a young age, but working in the darkroom for the first time really cemented my desire to be a photographer. There is something magical about the process of processing your own film and producing a print for the first time. I was lucky enough to attend the Pennsylvania School for the Arts in high school, and it solidified my college plans. I then attended Muhlenberg College to study art and went on to get my MFA from Rhode Island School of Design.

What's your style? What do you like to capture?

I am primarily an environmental photographer, meaning that I capture aspects of the landscape as well as people situated within it. I’m really interested in land use and people’s relationship with the landscape and nature in general. I shoot large-format black-and-white landscapes as well as digital color images focused on the landscapes of Pennsylvania as well as my own life and those around me. I would consider myself a “traditional” photographer working in a more documentary fashion. My biggest influences have been August Sander, Judith Joy Ross, Stephen Shore, Alec Soth, and Elinor Carucci.

What do you try to get across to your art students?

I want my students to leave my class more aware of what is around them and seeing it in a new way. It is rewarding to have students tell me that they now “see” pictures everywhere.  They notice things that they never noticed before, and I think that leads to a greater sensitivity about the world in general as well as awareness of the millions of interesting moments that happen every day.

Your job in ITS seems strikingly different from your art instruction—do you see an intersection between those two areas?

I see a lot of parallels. Both involve teaching people to understand and use technology. Teaching has always been my passion, and that is essentially what I do in both positions. I enjoy learning new things and working with people, so it was a fairly easy transition.

What do you find most fulfilling about your job in ITS?

The most rewarding part is helping make other people’s jobs better. Sometimes small improvements in workflows have a huge impact on someone’s day-to-day work.

What was your role in the transition to remote instruction?

I was partly responsible for developing and leading training for faculty and staff on how to make the best use of the tools we have such as Zoom, Google Meet, etc. I also created a lot of the help documentation that was needed for the transition. I still meet with faculty and staff on a regular basis to provide training and consultation for their work, teaching, and research. 

What was going through your mind when you realized that this needed to be accomplished?

There was definitely a moment of feeling overwhelmed when I realized the scope of what needed to happen, but then I got to work and just focused on what needed to get done.

How did you pull it off?

Myself, Jason Alley, and Jason Simms spent a lot of time talking through what training was the most essential and set up as many sessions as we could before we all went remote. The members of Learning and Research Technologies and User Services also ran a virtual Tech Lounge for faculty, staff, and students following the move to remote that helped in those early hectic days. We also scaled up support for things like Zoom and Kaltura so that people could have access to and information about tools that were critical for keeping classes and work going. We got good feedback from the Lafayette community and are looking at what is going to be needed for the fall. The most stressful component was and is never having enough hours in the day to get to everything that needed to be done.

What dogs do you have?

I have three standard poodles, Emma, Lily, and Ash, and two Siberian Huskies, Ice and Shadow.

Why so many? Does caring for them get overwhelming?

My partner and I each had two dogs when we met, and once you have four, a fifth doesn’t seem like such a big deal, so we got Ash, our poodle puppy, just in time for quarantine to kick in. The dogs have been a great incentive to get out of the house every day for walks.

Outside photography and dogs, what do you do for fun?

I really enjoy spending time with my son and time outdoors—we camp, hike, and kayak a lot. We love to visit the state parks in Pennsylvania and try to spend at least a week camping at one every summer. My sister and I have hiked most of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania many times over and hope to do the entire trail someday when time and life allow.

I’m also an avid runner and try to run every day.  While I love running, I hate running hills, and my house is surrounded by hills. I can’t wait to get back on campus so I can run the wonderfully flat Arts Trail every day again.

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