When I was shooting this family, they told me the last time they got a family picture was ten years earlier when the church directory came out.  I’m glad I got to be involved in making sure that wasn’t their last family photo!




I got interested in doing time lapse photography this week when a student was trying to sort out how to photograph the upcoming Habitat for Humanity Build at Woodberry. I did a little looking around and set up a tripod at my back window. I set the time lapse function on my Nikon D600 for two hours of ten-second intervals and headed off to dinner. When I came home, Voila! The camera had finished all the photos and made them into a movie! Here it is!  (Click the link below.)


Clouds over the Blue Ridge

The girls have a play coming up, so we needed to get the annual Halloween photo shoot done today.  They  dressed up as the Doctor and Rose from Doctor Who.  I’ve only seen a couple of episodes, so they were not only the models — they were also the artistic directors and costumers. We got access to a mechanical room to be the industrial/futuristic backdrop.  And we tried some fun light sources:  an off camera flash, a sonic screwdriver, and a couple of iphones.  Some heavy-handed post processing dressed it all up even more!

We had a lot of fun and may just have to do this more than once a year

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As much a part of Halloween as carving a pumpkin and buying outrageously priced candy is posing the kids in costume for their annual Halloween photo.  That’s the shot where the kids’ bored faces betray their thin indulgence of you and your camera as they attempt to make their way out the door for their big night.  If you want a change, here’s my advice:  Turn the photo shoot into part of your celebration.

My kids are teens now, so they were on their own as far as costumes.  As soon as they were decked out, and just before the sun went down, I said the words they’ve often heard from their photog/mom:  “Let’s have a photo shoot!”

Here are my tips for making Halloween photos less scarily banal!

  1. Go on location.  We happen to have an abandoned barn nearby, and that seemed to match the mood of the girls’ costumes well.  Since one daughter was a good witch, I got her out in the air and shot from below into the clouds for her individual shot.  For the evil sister, I put her inside the barn’s doorway so she’d be backed by black.
  2. Act it out.  My girls are actors, so they had their own ideas.  My Glinda imagined herself into a blissful unawareness of Elphaba’s evil antics.  And Elphaba channeled her true feelings for her rival sibling.
  3. Don’t stress about the technical aspects.  I usually try and minimize my ISO and calculate the tradeoffs between sharpness and exposure.  This time, I was just having fun.  The sun was going down and there wasn’t much I could do but ramp up the ISO, shoot in RAW, and purposely underexpose.  No flash allowed.
  4. Dress it up in post.  I’m usually restrained in my postprocessing; I don’t want it to show.  But with this shoot, I went to town.  I put on some heavy-handed vignetting (light for the good witch, dark for the bad), upped the greens, played with the grain, and went black-and-white with presets. Have as much fun with your Lightroom tools as you had at the shoot itself.

On the way home from this shoot, we reminisced about my older daughter’s goth years, when she dressed like Elphaba everyday.  And we talked about how much fun we’d had.  The girls promptly made these pictures their Facebook profiles — the most serious praise a photographer can get!

If you can invest ten minutes for a mini photo shoot — and get the kids to buy in by making it fun – you’ll love the results! And you’ll have a new holiday tradition.



One of the things my daughter wanted for her 21st birthday is a  photo shoot with me!

Here are a few of the shots we did this morning at the University of Virginia, where she is a fourth year student!



My day job is in a boys’ boarding school, and I spend a lot of time posting photos — my own and those of other photographers — to an online photo album that lets the students’ families check in on school events and campus life. My mission is to “provide a positive glimpse into the life of the school.”


Today, one of the parents who enjoys checking out the photos was here on campus.  He made a point of telling me how much seeing those pictures meant to him.  That made me feel great!

Enjoy the Woodberry Forest School Photo Album!

Other side of the camera

I had my own picture taken yesterday at a photo booth run by Photo Folly. I decided to go with a simple theme–no hats, boas, or goofy glasses. What fun! I’d definitely love to tackle a photo booth at Woodberry one day!

I’ve made a New Year’s resolution — yes, my new year starts in September — to make Sundays my photography days.  That’s the day I plan to blog, learn more about my craft, and take pictures.  Today, my day job kept me busy with the taking photos part of things:  I was asked to help document the arrival of 129 boys to Woodberry Forest School, where I am a communications associate.  And, since I’m the mom of a “new boy” and a senior, I had meetings to attend for that role.  AND…since my husband and I have nine advisees, I hosted them and their families for a little get together at my house.  

The day’s not over yet! Still to tick off the list are dinner and chapel before I’m off to help manage the process of shooting a head shot of every boy.  


Anna Grey ’14 and Cordelia ’17 about to embark on a new school year!


Remember these days? I have notebooks full of negatives.

Happy new year!  In the academic world, where I live and do my day job, September 1 means summer is over.  But I’m looking at a new beginning.  Just picked up my new Nikon D600 and I’m ready for a great year of taking better and better pictures, helping others do the same, and blogging about it all.  I’ve changed the name of my blog to Photo Positive, because the days of photo negatives are over!

Here is the artist’s statement for my photo exhibition, Landsculpt:  Ireland, at Woodberry Forest School’s Upper Walker Gallery, April 4-25, 2013.

Landsculpt:  Ireland


I’m not sure what I was expecting from my visit to Ireland in the summer of 2012, but the Ireland I encountered was not as lucky-charming as I envisioned.  The island nation’s true charms are those crafted by nature and by the land’s long history of human habitation.  Layers of stories overlap every inch of the country, all of them beginning, and ending, with geography.


As I traveled with my camera, I began to look for the places where humans sculpted the land or where the elements of wind, water, and life force pressed in on human endeavor.  I looked for places where the human and the natural collide in beauty.  


And sometimes my own hands did the sculpting. Using a photographer’s tools – monochrome, panorama, long exposure, bokeh — I created images that interpret, but don’t quite replicate, Ireland’s beautiful reality.


I would like to express gratitude to Woodberry Forest School for its support and to Irish landscape photographer Eoghan Kavanaugh for a memorable day of touring and photography in Killarney National Park.