Charity: Blast

I was invited by charity: water‘s multimedia director, and my good friend, Mo Scarpelli, to help photograph the organization’s annual charity: ball fundraiser in New York City a few weeks ago. Happy to help and even happier for an excuse visit friends in Brooklyn, I hopped on the Amtrak and braced myself for a fast-paced weekend in the city.

When the guests started to arrive on Monday evening, seven photographers and I did slow circles around the event space for almost five hours, taking photos of everything and everyone. All told, the event raised 2.5M by the time the lights came on at 11. My camera didn’t come along to the after party (for better or for worse…) but here are some shots from the gala, held at the 69th Regiment Armory building in Manhattan. More info and photos on their blog.

Fashion in the Stacks

The Burg is running a profile on Lynchburg-native Becca McCharen (third photo) who founded Chromat Garments and currently lives in New York City. Hearing that she was planning to visit for the weekend, we thought it would be a great opportunity for some photos. We were also able to get a couple hours with sometimes-model Robyn Davies to show off some of Becca’s creations.

The plan was to head to the former Jones Memorial Library and do some photos outside, using the old stonework and cracked concrete as a backdrop, then shoot a couple more locations downtown. After about 20 min at the library, a man wandered over to us and I thought we were going to be asked to leave. Instead, he said he was the caretaker of the now vacant building and would we like to go inside? YES! After a brief tour, we spent 45 minutes in a few different rooms, with Robyn and Becca modeling a couple more looks.

I would have loved to shoot these with a medium format camera but I do not have access to one. Still hoping for a similar look, I shot them a little loose and then cropped in to (roughly) 3:4.

Spirit of the Season

Happy holidays! The paper ran a series of photos this week of people who embody the holiday season and serve some role that we might take for granted. I was assigned “Santa,” a Salvation Army bell-ringer, a Christmas tree farmer and a USPS mail carrier.


At one of their last stops in the Hill City before Christmas Eve, Santa and Mrs. Claus had some important advice for children: “It’s not too late to be good. I consider everything right up until Christmas Eve,” Santa said.

Leaving a carrot out for the reindeer and milk and cookies out for Santa helps too, said Mrs. Claus.

Most importantly, said Santa, be in bed and asleep well before 11 p.m. “I won’t come until after you’re asleep.” -AMY TRENT

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Outside the Boonsboro Road Kroger, Marisa Connelly stands ringing and smiling. Connelly, a New Yorker, makes her living covering hard rock and heavy metal music for Sick Drummer Magazine and other media outlets.

She came to Lynchburg to visit her brother and pitched in for his bell-ringing appointment at Kroger when he couldn’t make it. Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church organized a series of bell ringers to cover the store all day long.

“It’s important to give back to your community and pay it forward,” she said. -JESSIE POUNDS

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They started out as seedlings on a hillside in Coleman Falls eight or 10 or more years ago. Now Christmas Tree farmer Jon Perdew likes to think of those same trees as a focal point of holiday celebrations in thousands of homes across the Lynchburg area.

Perdew has been growing trees — with the help of his 10 children — at his Green Needles choose-and-cut Christmas Tree farm in Bedford County for the past six years. Through the seasons he has added merry scenes of hot chocolate and pony rides.

“People say they come out for the experience, not just for the trees,” Perdew said. “And they like buying locally, too.” -JUSTIN FAULCONER

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For long-time mail carrier Dan Yerdon, Christmas is like “four tidal waves, one after the other. The holiday catalogues come in October, then the catalogue orders, then the packages themselves, then the Christmas cards.”

Yerdon services some 400 customers in the Boonsboro area of Lynchburg, walking more than six miles a day as he repeatedly reloads his carrying bag with mail from a truck he moves from street to street.

“We do get a lot of baked goods and candy from our customers this time of year, and some monetary gifts,” he said.

And lots of exercise to compensate for all those treats. -DARRELL LAURANT

Rocking the Mall

Lynchburg native Phil Vassar made an appearance at the River Ridge Mall on Saturday, giving a short, free concert that was announced only two days earlier. “I just wanted to come home and see everybody,” he said at the start of the show. It was one of the most challenging musical events I have photographed, as there were no lights, no backdrops and hardly any crowd control. Luckily, that also meant there was no “designated media area” so I was able to slip behind the stage and try some different kinds of shots.

Tinsel and Lights

If I am not careful, every photo from now until the end of the year will be some arrangement of santa hats, shopping malls or small town parades. I went to this assignment just crossing my fingers that I’d be able to shoot something a bit “different” and I think it worked out.

Chris Bryant at at Presbyterian Homes and Family Services adds the finishing touches to the 12-ft tree in their lobby.