Over the weekend I attended my first Rivercane Rendezvous in Georgia. My friend David, whom I met while he was living in a wigwam in Virginia, told me about the week-long event several years ago but other obligations had always prevented me from going. He is a regular at several similar gatherings in the region and I was eager to not only see him again but also to get my hands dirty practicing some of the ancient skills that are central to these groups. Classes, taught by unlikely experts of all ages, range from bow and arrow-making to fire-starting and birdwatching
As I do, I had my camera over my shoulder but I was intentionally not treating this as an assignment. I wanted to be an active, engaged member of the group to experience the things that brought this community together. They call themselves a family, and, as this was the 30th annual rendezvous, many of these people have literally known each other their entire lives. Although I only spent one full day in the camp, I felt immediately embraced by the community of conscientious, positive, free-spirited people from around the country. As I stopped by various lessons in progress, I inevitably I found myself in some special situations where I was able to make some photos; many, many more scenes ended up as mental snapshots. I thought, if only my school days had been more like this, where every class has a clear purpose, a tangible outcome, a passionate teacher and a warm breeze. (Class sizes were generally limited to 10, as well.)
It’s always inspiring and humbling to learn about something you never knew existed, which happened frequently throughout my short stay. To me, any experience that offers a new perspective has value, especially one that does so in such a constructive and respectful way. If you are curious to learn more, there are earthskills gatherings around the country and they are always looking for new participants.
I started this series of portraits in the snow last year and I didn’t know what chance I’d have to keep it going. This winter, I found myself out with a camera when some flakes started to fall and decided to try to add to it. It’s partly an exercise in approaching strangers and photographing in unplanned situations but I also love the serenity of fresh snow and seeing how people dress for it.
I’ve taken a ton of portraits this last year and I try to keep experimenting with different styles. Sometimes the location inspires the feel of the shot, other times I use my own light and try to create a mood. I enjoy the challenges with each shoot and I am always left wishing I had more time or equipment at my disposal. This is a very broad set and there might be a re-post or two here.
I FINALLY got to attend GeekFest this year and had a great time hanging out in Philadelphia for a couple days. Reconnected with some old friends and met lots of shooters whose work I’ve admired for a long time. I caught talks by Luanne Dietz, Vince Musi, Sara Naomi Lewkowicz and Holly Andres about their photographic journeys. Sara had a potent quote encouraging every photographer to “climb their own mountain,” which struck a chord with me because my path is certainly taking some turns I didn’t expect. But I’m still loving the experience and grateful for every day that I get to make some photos and see something new because of it.
I recently realized that I haven’t yet posted any photos from my new job at Randolph College. Like the students I photograph every day, I have learned a lot in this semester back at school. I’ve felt drawn to this school since I moved here in 2010. The spired, stately, brick buildings overlook one of the main roads through Lynchburg and they always seem to glow in the sunlight; out the back there are incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Many of my first friends in Lynchburg were students or alums of Randolph. Which may not sound surprising until you consider that the school’s entire enrollment is under 700. Although I miss many things about the college life I see around me, I am very happy to be climbing my way out of the student debt hole rather than digging further in. I’ve kept busy on this 100-acre campus and enjoyed some different kinds of assignments for the school’s magazines and web sites. The title of this post is the school’s motto, which translates to “A Life More Abundant.” It is simple but really speaks to the heart of what, I think, secondary education can provide at its best (plus it makes you sound smart to use Latin words). This is a very random sample of photos from Randolph from the last year.
The video is done! I wanted to hold off on this post until the video was finished so I could share the whole story all together. As this video hopefully shows, every day on the Appalachian Trail had its struggles and its rewards. The towns, people, and views we encountered all added to the experience. I could never capture or share all the memorable moments we had along the way but I tried to cut together a collection of scenes that give a feel for life on the trail.
Today I am leaving my job at The News & Advance to hike a section of the AT with my brother, Samo. We’ve been toying with the idea for almost a year and I’m thrilled that it’s finally going to happen. My 3+ years at the paper in Lynchburg have flown by and I’ve learned more than I ever expected—about photography, about life and about myself. It’s no small decision to leave a great job, especially these days, but some opportunities only come once and I’m ready to start a new adventure.
Keys for the Hill City is a new public art installation in Lynchburg: 5 donated pianos were decorated by local high school students and placed along Main Street for anyone to use. I have played them a few times in passing and regularly see people use them on their lunch breaks or while walking around in the evenings. We are all hoping they are treated well so they come back again next year. I followed students at Brookville for a month as they worked their piano and put it together as a slideshow after it was unveiled.