James River Batteau Festival

Every year the Batteau Festival sneaks up on me, and every year I regret not taking the week off. Right now, a number of my friends are making their way from Lynchburg to Richmond on simple, unwieldy boats known as “batteaux.” Over eight days, 15-20 of these boats navigate the James River, accompanied by dozens of kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders who camp with them along the shore each night. They endure all kinds of weather as they make their way 120 miles through Central Virginia just as the river traders did centuries ago. On Saturday night, at least, the weather was perfect. After the sun set and candle lanterns glowed in the dark, I walked out onto one batteau that was tethered to the shore and felt like I stepped back in time. There was a warm breeze and all I could hear were frogs croaking and the rush of the water. Around one lantern on a nearby boat, several people sat talking, dressed historically as the original boatmen would have, in simple, loose, light-colored cotton shirts and pants. Of course, there are plenty of modern conveniences that help now—propane cookstoves, electric bilge pumps, weather tracking apps—but there is something valuable about preserving traditions like this one. I’m already looking forward to next year.

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Golden Sunset

How many storms have I been through? How many sunsets? And yet some particular combination of temperature, humidity, time of day and location created this unreal scene. After an intense but brief lightening storm driving through Central Virginia, the setting sunlight wrapped the entire landscape and sky in a golden blanket. The colors are impossible to recreate on a computer but I recall the scene being every bit as vivid as these photos.

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Tacoma Wedding

Last fall, I had the privilege of traveling to Washington to photograph my second cousin’s wedding in Tacoma. For me, shooting weddings is an intense but rewarding challenge. It is a full day (or two) of staying creative and energetic while adapting to constantly changing situations and sticking to a tight schedule. I don’t usually work with a second shooter so my attention is split between watching for fun moments and documenting details in the decor. I put pressure on myself to capture things during the day that the couple couldn’t experience, so they can find some surprises in the pictures later. In Tacoma, we were blessed with great weather and the venue was very fun to work in. I also got to re-introduce myself to some relatives from Minnesota and North Dakota who hadn’t seen me since I was about three feet tall.

Belated congratulations to Justine and Warren! I hope to see you both again soon.

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Lens Flares and Faerie Wings

Each time Sara talked about the shoot she wanted to do, it got more elaborate, eventually including makeup and costumes somewhere in the woods. Then one Saturday afternoon in November, when we were both stressed out about other things and in need of a break, we decided to scrap the plans and just go shoot. We didn’t even know where we were going when we started driving.

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