Reflecting love — Manassas, Va., October 2017
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Reflecting love — Manassas, Va., October 2017
I felt somewhat guilty about seeing Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer perform on Sunday night at The Birchmere. My wife and I had just returned from Chicago earlier that afternoon, and we’d seen Green Day just three nights earlier. I’ve been on the road for five of the past six weekends, and the work was piling up. Family members and lifelong friends were dealing with the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Harvey, and Texas was — still is — on my mind.
Little did I know that seeing — and photographing — this sister act would be such a salve for the soul.
On a short tour to promote “Not Dark Yet,” a stunning and mesmerizing collection that is their first album together, Moorer and Lynne talked about their heritage and the bond they share as sisters. It’s a bond that has been forever cemented despite horrific violence (their father killed their mother, then himself when they were teens), lives on opposite coasts (one in L.A.; the other in New York), and disparate personalities (Lynne, three years older, is the introvert; Moorer just completed a memoir).
Nashville musician Rick Brantley opened the show, and was joined by Lynne and Moorer for his song “Hurt People,” a beautiful moment that offered the promise of things to come. I spoke briefly with Brantley between the sets, and he said that watching the two sing together will “blow your mind. Their sound will put you in a trance.”
I’ve seen Moorer live several times, the first time at Joe’s Pub in New York when she was eight-plus months pregnant with her son, John Henry, and then as part of her then-husband Steve Earle’s band. I saw Lynne years ago and have most of her albums in heavy rotation.
Brantley was right. Together, they were better than I could have imagined. At points, they would glance at each other as only siblings can, wordlessly helping the audience understand their “Sissy” bond.
Performing all 10 tracks — nine covers and one original — from “Not Dark Yet,” plus songs from each of their catalogues, their voices blended seamlessly as the selections ranged from family staples (Louvin Brothers, Merle Haggard, Jessi Colter) to the unlikely trio of Nick Cave, the Killers, and Nirvana.
But it was the title track, a Bob Dylan song from his Grammy winning “Time Out of Mind,” and the sole original, “Is It Too Much,” that resonated most strongly. Dylan’s song, one of his best, is both a sad reflection on mortality and a message of hope. “Is It Too Much,” a song about the sisters’ family history, reaches out to others in pain. Sample lyric: “No one else bears this heavy load/Bring it here to my side…Don’t you know you ain’t by yourself/I’m right here to help you lay it down.”
Appropriately, the sisters donated proceeds from the sales of their T-shirts to victims of Hurricane Harvey, a generous gesture that showed the compassion they have for others in need. The donations are small in the light of the scale of the destruction, but you start somewhere. After all, the message is about uniting in the face of tragedy.
Postscript: This morning, as the tour moves to Chicago, Moorer posted a childhood photo from a family trip to Texas. Today would have been her mother’s 73rd birthday.
“The loss of her feels deeper somehow this year — maybe because we're out here singing together and we both miss the third part she would've chomped at the bit to add. Maybe because she would've been so proud of us. Maybe because we know that she IS proud, looking on, and cheering for us,” Moorer writes.
Moorer then addresses her mother’s death, and her father’s horrifying decision.
“He and he alone took her beautiful spirit out of this world. He was able to because of two things — she didn't know how to fight back and he had a gun. The most harrowing and frustrating thing about domestic violence is that it wears down a person's spirit in such a way that most women forget they are in charge of their own lives. I wish someone had been able to tell our Mama that hers was worth more than she ended up believing it was.”
These sisters, now both older than their mother was at the time of her death, honor her memory every time they walk on stage. They certainly did Sunday night.
I had a lot of fun taking these pictures of Katie van den Heuvel last week in Norfolk. One of the founding members of the National Dance Society, Katie is a physical therapist and dancer from Fayetteville, N.C., who is taking part in a Clowning & Caring workshop in Aug. 27-Sept. 3 in San Jose, Costa Rica.
The trip, sponsored by Patch Adams MD and the School for Designing a Society, gives participants a chance to perform in area hospitals, clinical settings, and communities. Katie will also take part in workshops on clown technique, song, poetry, and improvisation, as well as composing in small groups.
John Pavlovitz, a writer and pastor from the Raleigh area, wrote an eloquent piece titled “This is Racism” following the Charlottesville riots. Here is the part that resonated most with me:
“White people especially need to name racism in this hour, because somewhere in that crowd of sweaty, dead-eyed, raw throated white men are our brothers and cousins and husbands and fathers and children; those we go to church with and see at Little League and in our neighborhoods. They need to be made accountable by those they deem their ‘own kind.’ They need to know that this is not who we are, that we don’t bless or support or respect this. They need white faces speaking directly into their white faces, loudly on behalf of love."
Suspended in air by a spider's thread — Mount Vernon trail near Alexandria, Va., September 2017
Cobblestone streets — Alexandria, Va., August 2017
End of the weekend, end of the roll — Lorton, Va., September 2017
Neighborhood flag flying — Alexandria, Va., August 2017
Side eye for the paparazzi — Lorton, Va., July 2017
This is an edited narrative of a presentation I gave at the National Dance Society’s annual conference on Aug. 4 in Norfolk, Va. Photos included in this blog entry were taken during classes offered to area students and attendees at the conference. My wife, Jill, also was a keynote speaker at the conference, talking in separate sessions about mental health and bullying.
The purpose of this session is to talk about the role of the dance photographer so you can capture and promote the work that you do as educators and studio owners. But first, let’s start with a bit of background — the “why” you’re listening to this person on a sunny, summer Friday afternoon.
Here’s what I’m not:
Here’s what I am: A photographer, writer, storyteller, husband, father, and the son of two teachers. I learned my way around a camera out of necessity while working as a journalist and communications professional, and was told I had an eye for it.
Like many parents, I found myself taking pictures at my kids’ major events, including their dance recitals. The limitations of my camera and lenses made it difficult get much, however, and I did not know enough about dance to capture the proper technique.
Over the last four years, since going out on my own, I’ve learned how to capture the art of dance, both in performance and in various settings that make up my “Art & Dance” series. This series, primarily focusing on young, pre-professional dancers performing on city streets, in an abandoned church, in a creek, in a subway tunnel, and under a bridge, among others, has been profiled in a Northern Virginia arts magazine and has been the subject of three exhibits at a local art gallery. You can see my photos on my website — http://glenncook.virb.com.
What I’ve discovered is that these types of photographs are powerful marketing for educators and studio owners. So let’s spend a little time looking at photography, the basic technical information you need to know, and ways you can broaden your audience.
Getting the Right Equipment
Photography is, like any art form, both independent and interdependent. Yes, anyone can take a picture, and technology has made it easy to capture beautiful shots with our phones. But if you want to shoot dancers, especially during a performance, your iPhone won’t do the trick. In fact, rather than promoting your brand, it dilutes your impact.
The reason, not to get too technical here, is cell phones do not have what is known as an SLR, or single lens reflex. This allows you to focus, click and — if your light and shutter settings are correct — stop action. Your phone camera can’t do all of those things at once, especially in dim light, and it can’t do some of them at all.
So that means you need “a real camera,” and depending on the complexity of what you’re trying to capture, the reality is that a “real camera” and good lenses don’t come cheap.
Here’s why: Going beyond composition, photography comes down to two things — light and speed. This is where photography is most interdependent. If the two are not in sync, it will be difficult to capture what you want to achieve, even if everything is perfectly composed and in focus.
In most performance settings, you will need a camera that can handle low light really well. This is where ISO, the setting for how much light you allow into the camera, comes into play.
If you’re shooting outside, you can normally set your ISO on 100 (brightest), 200, 400, 640 or 800 (getting dim, but still light out). When you’re indoors, you likely will need your ISO settings to start at 1600 (if you’re lucky), 3200 (if there’s good lighting), and 4000 or 5000 (most common).
Although technology has improved greatly, it’s still hard to find an inexpensive camera that can shoot with the speed you need at ISOs of 4000 or 5000 consistently without too much “noise,” which affects the sharpness of your picture.
This is further complicated by the speed factor. To stop a dancer’s motion without blur, you need to have a shutter speed of at least 1/200th of a second. Anything less — whether you’re outside or inside — and you will get blur. Sometimes you can get a flash to sync at 1/200th of a second, but I haven’t been to a performance yet where you can shoot photos with a flash.
So if you decide to take this on yourself, remember these things:
Shooting a Live Show
Photographing a live performance is one of the most difficult and demanding things I’ve done. You have to learn how to anticipate the action, and find ways to shoot so that both technique and emotion are captured. Yes, you want the leaps and jumps, but it’s also about telling the story of the work your students are doing.
This again, speaks to the interdependence of photography. Understanding the story being told on stage is key to capturing the big moments, and the small ones as well. Knowing generally where the performers will be positioned also is helpful.
In most cases, a photographer will not shoot the actual live performance, but a dress rehearsal. This prevents you from disrupting the paying audience and gives you time, in case anything bad happens, to ensure that you get decent shots. It also offers you flexibility because you can shoot from all areas of the performance space.
What happens all too frequently is a photographer will set up in the back of the auditorium and shoot from the same spot. This does capture the show itself, but it prevents you from getting those small moments of emotion that help you tell the story.
So what does this mean for you?
Storytelling and Photography
You have millions of ways to tell stories today. Video, stills, audio, the written word. You are in a visual medium, and social networking — despite the political wars many get into on Facebook these days — is geared toward the visual.
This should be a great match, so why don’t you invest in it? And why do you accept poor quality, or opt for the cheap stock art, rather than focusing on your performers? As you put your shows and performances together, do you think about how you will tell the story to the outside world?
Folks are interested in process, the “how” of you put something together. Behind the scenes videos, photos, and short narratives are increasingly popular because of the online world’s endless thirst for content. You don’t have to have high production values for these types of stories; simple iPhone interviews often will do.
As the performance nears, this is where you need to engage a professional photographer and talk about telling your story. Consider having a promotional shoot that can be used for posts — posters, post cards, online posts.
Finally, as the show/performance nears, have the photographer shoot the dress rehearsal. Let your cast know the photographer has free reign to walk around. Say you want 10-15 shots to use for social media purposes immediately; the additional photos can be sold or made available for download to parents.
There are many ways to do this effectively, but being willing to partner and plan is key. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been asked to shoot something at the last minute. The photos turn out decently, but they would be so much better if I had the opportunity to meet and plan beforehand.
Make It Work for All
I understand that your bottom line on these types of performances is often razor thin, and photography is the first thing to get cut when finances are tight. But you can be creative and original in ways that are fair to everyone involved.
This is my pitch/plea to you: In addition to remembering the photographer in your planning, be prepared to work out some sort of financial arrangement for the work he or she does.
Many photographers I know are willing to go the extra mile for their customers, but free is not acceptable. Think about how you feel, as a business person, when someone constantly asks you to do something without compensation of some sort.
As fellow artists, we understand the financial constraints you’re under, but you can make it work. Telling a photographer he or she can “sell” pictures in lieu of a shoot fee is, unfortunately, a nonstarter. We are in a share society, not a sell society, where consumers feel like they can get their music and media for free.
Here are some things you can do:
That’s it, really. If you know your audience, assess your needs, make marketing your story integral to what you do, and work with your photographer and your students to tell it, your audience will be much more engaged in the great work you do.
In bloom — Alexandria, Va., July 2017
Raindrops and leaves — Arlington, Va., July 2017
Indoor/outdoor plants — Lorton, Va., October 2016
Sixty-nine of my photos, images taken throughout Virginia and Washington, D.C., now adorn the walls of Innovation Health’s new and recently expanded offices in Falls Church, Va. All but one of the photos are professionally printed and framed 16x24 images; the last, a frozen Potomac River, is a metal 36x24 print.
This project has been in the works for several months and more photos have been added as part of the company’s expansion. The last set of images were delivered last week, and I wanted to share the work here.
Innovation Health is the result of a unique partnership between two industry leaders: Inova and Aetna. Inova is a nationally recognized not-for-profit health care system serving more than 2 million people each year. Aetna, one of the nation’s leading health care benefits companies, serves more than 22 million medical members. Innovation Health also is the official health insurance company of the Washington Redskins.
If you know someone who would be interested in this type of project, large or small, for their business or company, please consider giving my name as a reference. I also am working on an expanded webpage to sell prints of these and other images that should be up in the near future.
Meanwhile, if you are interested in purchasing prints of my work, send me a private message on Facebook or an email to email@example.com.
Thanks again to the staff at Innovation Health for their faith and kind words, and to my photographer friends and family who helped along the way.
Steve Earle is one of three performers — Dave Alvin and John Hiatt are the others — I’ve seen live more than a dozen times in various configurations over the past 30 years. All three rarely disappoint because they are outstanding musicians and storytellers.
Last night’s show, featuring Earle and his band The Dukes at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., was no exception. It was, as usual, a goulash of various genres that ranged from pedal steel country to hard rock, all serving to promote Earle’s latest album, “So You Wannabe an Outlaw,” which was released last month. It also was the first time Earle, who is outspoken in his political views, has performed with his band in the D.C. area since the 2016 presidential election.
Politics were part of the equation — how could they not be? — but Earle’s canvas was broad, nostalgic and even melancholy at times. He spoke of being an a romantic in the widest possible sense, noting that he hasn’t done as well in the personal department (seven marriages, including a recent divorce from singer-songwriter Allison Moorer). Now 62, he talked being an optimist, largely because of his 7-year-old son with Moorer, who has autism.
Earle’s mentors and mortality also were recurring themes. “Outlaw” is inspired by Waylon Jennings’ 1973 album “Honky Tonk Heroes,” and its closing number, “Goodbye Michelangelo,” is dedicated to Guy Clark, who died last year. He spoke of performing at Willie Nelson’s annual Fourth of July picnic for the first time this year, having attended the first one as an 18-year-old and others since.
After more than two hours, Earle’s encore closed with “This Land is Your Land,” and “Christmas in Washington,” which namechecks Woody Guthrie and serves as a call for unity in a fractured world. It was a fitting end to a lovely night.
• The talent of the musicians in Earle’s band is outstanding, although there were some sound issues last night. Earle has worked with bass player Kelly Looney since 1988 and with guitarist Chris Masterson and fiddle player Eleanor Whitmore since 2010. Two new members, drummer Brad Pemberton and pedal steel player Ricky Ray Jackson, also were terrific.
• Masterson and Whitmore, who are married and perform separately as “The Mastersons,” again are the openers for the tour. They showcased songs from their third album, the recently released (and excellent) “Transient Lullaby.” Having seen them now four times, the first time at a Joe’s Pub release party for Moorer’s 2010 album “Crows,” I’m a true fan.
• Both Earle and Whitmore astound me with their versatility. Earle played eight different instruments and Whitmore four last night.
• I love The Birchmere, my go-to club for music since we moved here in 2001. It’s nice to be in a venue where folks sit and listen to the music, and it’s great to be able to take photos without issues with something other than a phone. The $8 charge for a beer came as a shock though.
• I got lucky. Not sure whether I’d be able to go to the show until the last minute, I went to the box office and was told it was sold out. Fortunately, a man was sitting in the lobby trying to sell an extra ticket, which I got at face value. Then, getting into the general admission area late (some folks had been there since noon), I managed to score a seat with members of The U-Liners, a DC-area Americana and roots-rock band with many shared musical interests. They were great; I hope to see their next show in DC in August. Check them out at www.uliners.com.
• Interesting trivia only to me: Earle and I share the same birthday — January 17 — 10 years apart.
• Additional musicians I would like to add to my 10-plus list: Moorer, who will be at The Birchmere next month with her sister, Shelby Lynne, behind a new album; Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, who I saw for the second time last month at Merriweather Post Pavilion; and Chris Stapleton, who I’m seeing at Jiffy Lube Pavilion this weekend. Good summer for shows.
Foggy morning — Lorton, Va., September 2015
Low clouds — Wintergreen, Va., November 2015
Spraying water — Mount Vernon, Va., October 2016
Blast of color — near Richmond, Va., May 2015
Train station art — Alexandria, Va., July 2016
Wooden flag — Leesburg, Va., January 2017
In case you’re wondering what Jill does when I’m gone for two weeks… She jumped out of an airplane with the Golden Knights as part of her work with the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion.
Early morning at Arlington Cemetery — March 2017
Confederate weapons — Violet Bank, Va., April 2014
On the tracks — Occoquan, Va., February 2016
Black & White Week: Frowning father — Yorktown, Va., May 2016
Tiny bubbles — Occoquan, Va., March 2017
House on the tracks — Bristow, Va., March 2017
Abandoned factory — Fredericksburg, Va., November 2014
1930s era Philco Radio — Lorton, Va., August 2016
18th century gravestone — Williamsburg, Va., May 2016
Broken turn signal — Alexandria, Va., December 2015
Under the stands — Alexandria, Va., September 2013
Governor's Palace — Williamsburg, Va., May 2016
Shovels, doors and stars — Leesburg, Va., January 2017
Struck by lightning — Gunston Hall, Va., August 2014
Nichols Hardware Store — Purcellville, Va., January 2017
John, a student at Metropolitan School of the Arts, is a repeat customer who needed new headshots. See the results at http://glenncook.virb.com/john2017, and consider scheduling a session today.
Peering out — Alexandria, Va., October 2016
Red river — Alexandria, Va., August 2014
Shadows on the wall — Alexandria, Va., January 2017
Old wooden fence — Yorktown, Va., June 2016
Nail pops — Linden Hill, Va., March 2017
In the shadows — Alexandria, Va., September 2016
Shadows and bars — Bristow, Va., March 2017
Taking headshots of your own children is more difficult than you might think. They’re often your toughest critics — justifiably — and you learn as much as you teach them. That said, when your kids are performers and dad is a photographer for a living, you work it out.
Now that my twins, Ben and Emma, are college age and living in different cities, it’s difficult to photograph them together. Both wanted new headshots for upcoming auditions, however, and as it turns out, they wanted to go to the same place.
Here is the result. I’m very pleased, and they seemed to be, too.
You can see more photos by going to the “Portraits” section of my website and clicking on the Performers/Dancers link.
Continuing our series of headshots, take a look at these photos of repeat customer Georgia, a second semester freshman at New York’s Pace University. The photos are up at http://glenncook.virb.com/georgia.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’m posting and sharing a series of headshots taken over the past couple of months. Now that spring is officially coming, it’s time to schedule full or mini sessions for your performers, high school seniors, families and corporate work. Send me a personal message via Facebook or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your session soon.
Let’s kickoff the series with Sofia, a lovely young lady from Northern Virginia, whose headshots were taken at the Workhouse Arts Center in January. You can check out her headshots at http://glenncook.virb.com/sofia.
Covered barn — Leesburg, Va., January 2017
Fingers of a tree — Occoquan, Va., December 2016
Snow sticks — Lorton, Va., January 2017
No Parking — Tustin, Calif., January 2016
On display and for sale at Lorton's Workhouse Arts Center, today's Daily Photo is part of my exhibit, "Road Show." Taken while searching for something to eat on a Sunday morning, I saw this bench in the parking lot of a hardware store. The texture and rich color of the wall had appeal, as did the bench's placement. I snapped the photo and went off to find food, not knowing until later what I had in my camera.
To see more photos in the exhibit, stop by the Workhouse from noon to 5 p.m. today. The show is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays through March 4. It is located on the second floor of Building 16 (Main Gallery).
Shadows on the road — Woodbridge, Va., December 2016
Looking through a pipe — Leesburg, Va., January 2017
Tally Ho theater lobby — Leesburg, Va., January 2017
My poster for "Road Show," now in building 16 at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton through March 4. Exhibit hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.
With love in our hearts — Lorton, Va., December 2016
Be prepared — Fairfax Station, Va., December 2016
View from the Ranch — outside Moab, Utah, August 2016
Part of my exhibit, Road Show, at the Workhouse Arts Center, the Daily Photo was taken outside Moab, Utah, during a photo excursion to four states last August. The scenery in this part of the U.S. is breathtaking, and the photos are equally good in black and white or in color. For this, I chose to stick with color because of the contrast between the rocks and the gorgeous blue sky.
To see more photos in the exhibit, stop by the Workhouse and go to the second floor of Building 16. The show is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays through March 4.
Three "Daily Photos," all featured in Road Show, my exhibit now at the Workhouse Arts Center. Go see my show, now through March 4 on the second floor of Building 16.
Rest Stop — June 2016
Nottoway, Va., is about halfway between our home in Lorton and Greensboro, N.C., where my oldest son lived when he was a child. The Nottoway Motel, located just off Interstate 85, was a pickup/dropoff point for a number of years. Still heavily rural, the area now has a combination gas station/Subway/ Dunkin' Donuts just off the interstate, but the motel and a cafe remain open. Last June, while going to see Nicholas in Durham, I stopped by the motel and captured this picture.
Natural Geyser — Caribou County, Idaho
Last August, on a day trip from Salt Lake City to the Grand Tetons, I saw a sign pointing me to this natural geyser, which goes off every hour on the hour in Caribou County, Idaho. I stopped, waited until it fired up again, and snapped this photo.
Covered Bridge — Claremont, N.C.
Located just outside Hickory off Interstate 40, the 85-foot Bunker Hill Covered Bridge is one of only two remaining in North Carolina. Spanning Lyle's Creek, the bridge was designed by well-known Civil War engineer Herman Haupt. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This photo was taken in September 2016.
Dancer in silhouette (from the Art & Dance: Ballerinas Redux album) — Arlington, Va., February 2017
Keeping track — Lorton, Va., June 2013
Fourteen photos from my "Art & Dance" series are on display and for sale at Breathe Body and Mind, a small yoga studio in West Springfield, Va. All of the prints, which range in size from 8x12 to 20x30, have a 3/16-inch foam core backing and are suitable for framing.
The studio is located at 6350 Rolling Mill Place, Suite 103. You can learn more by visiting the Breathe Body and Mind website at www.breathebodymind.com.
Another set of headshots, these from repeat customer Merritt, are up at http://glenncook.virb.com/
Street lights and a full moon — Lorton, Va., November 2016
Market Square after the tree lighting ceremony — Alexandria, Va., November 2016
Waiting for a show to start — Alexandria, Va., June 2011
Sun, shadows and fall — Clifton, Va., November 2016
I've been uploading a series of recent headshot sessions to my website this weekend. Check out these photos of Danielle at http://glenncook.virb.com/danielle.
It's not too late to have senior pictures taken for your son or daughter. Check out these of Meryn that I took recently in Alexandria, Va., at http://glenncook.virb.com/meryn.
We're having a quiet Thanksgiving at home, quite the contrast to years past. Feeling nostalgic with Ben, Emma, and Kate here together for the first time in months, I started going through old photos of past Thanksgivings.
A few things I noticed during our visual time travel:
• Over the last 20 years, we've had Thanksgiving dinner in at least 7 different cities in four states.
• Only two years (2001 and 2014) are not represented in this album. We were just moving into our home in Lorton in November 2001 and in 2014 we had just the girls here for a low-key Thanksgiving.
• After 2003, we didn't have Thanksgiving at home until 2013. Since then, we've been at home for three of the last four years.
• The last Thanksgiving all six McFarland/Cook first cousins were together was in 2012. They've only all been together a handful of times since. The last time all of the Cook/Ghirardi cousins were together was at my dad's funeral in 2007.
Going back through these photos was fun experience. Some years were easier than others — no surprise given that December is the month of birthdays. At times we were celebrating new opportunities; at others we were mourning those we had lost.
But all it takes is one quick look, and you can see why I give thanks every day for the life we have together.
A tree sees its shadow — Alexandria, Va., October 2016
Branches and ruins — Chapman Mill Historic Site in Virginia, April 2016
Under fall's shadow — Alexandria, Va., October 2016
I love repeat customers, especially when I get a chance to see how kids have grown. Check out these new headshots for Aidan at http://glenncook.virb.com/aidan.
It's been a while since I've taken headshots of Kate, and she needed some new ones, so it was a pleasure to take these. Here are four takes on my beautiful daughter, who turns 20 (!) in December.
It is headshot and portraits season, open to all ages. Check out these headshots of Alex, a recent college graduate now pursuing an acting career in Austin, Texas, at http://glenncook.virb.com/alex.
Taking off — Alexandria, Va., June 2016
Rows of glasses — Landsdowne, Va., June 2016
Potomac River at sunrise — Arlington, Va., June 2016
Maximum security entrance — Lorton, Va., March 2016
Headshots and senior photos of Caroline are now up on my website at http://glenncook.virb.com/carolinek. As kids get ready to go back to school, it's time to schedule a session for your senior!
Trailing behind — Occoquan, Va., August 2016
Cucumber tree — Colonial Heights, Va., October 2014
Elementary, middle and high school students from Northern Virginia performed scenes from four Broadway musicals Friday at the end of Metropolitan School of the Arts' annual summer musical theatre camp. The first show was "Hands on a Hardbody" (above); the second was from "All Shook Up" (below).
The students learned scenes, songs, and dances during the two week camp and then performed the pieces in a two-hour finale at Northern Virginia Community College's Ernst Cultural Center.
Bottom of a glass, end of an era, and no more Fireside chats — Lorton, Va., July 2016.
The cast of Metropolitan Youth Theatre's upcoming production of "Spring Awakening" performed in a fundraising cabaret and pot luck dinner Saturday in Alexandria. The cast showcased several group numbers from the Tony Award-winning show and several performed solo pop numbers.
The event, held at Metropolitan School of the Arts' studio in Alexandria, was a showcase for an incredibly talented ensemble of high school and college students ranging in age from 15 to 20.
"Spring Awakening" is the fourth MYT production since the student-run company was founded in 2014. Performances will be July 29-31 at 1st Stage Tysons in McLean, Va. (Note: The show has mature language and themes that are not suited for young audiences.)
Burst of sun — Catharpin, Va., July 2016
Pine needles — Catharpin, Va., July 2016
Hitching a ride — Lorton, Va., July 2016
Cloudy path — Lorton, Va., June 2016
A final set of photos from Metropolitan School of the Arts' production of "Alice in Wonderland." These are of class dances and were taken during the Sunday evening show. For more, visit my Facebook album here.
Last moments of sun — Wintergreen, Va., November 2015
Flowers on the river — Great Falls, Va., April 2016
Sun breaking through the clouds — Wintergreen, Va., November 2015
Rooms available — Nottoway, Va., July 2016
Earlier today, I posted to Facebook that I spent most of my morning rushing to get a cat to the airport, ending with, “It’s a long story.” Since the post generated the expected “WTH?!?” response, I thought I’d explain.
Jill’s cousins, Brian and Elise Hodges, left their cat with us last month as they embarked on a long journey that eventually landed them in Chicago. The plan was to send the cat back to them when they made it to the Windy City.
The best plans, as they say. The problem was that the cat, who has been cared for like a child since Brian and Elise acquired her, had to go to the vet before she could get on an airplane. So Brian, who is very attached to the cat, arranged for someone to come pick her up and drive her to Chicago rather than inconvenience us.
That, unfortunately, was the day after a series of horrible storms, and the driver contacted Brian to say he had two trees in his driveway and would be unable to drive Tatau to Chicago. They agreed to reschedule for Wednesday, but the driver never showed up.
Which brings us to Plan B.
We took the cat to the vet, got the certificates and the shots and everything else, and Brian scheduled the flight for this morning. Except there was one more problem: The carrier we had did not meet the FAA requirements.
So, with the cat scheduled to be at National Airport at 11:45, I found myself sitting outside a pet store to get the right carrier. And, guess what? The store owner informed me that he didn’t have the required bowl and water bottle in stock.
At 10:35, I made a mad dash through weekend “getaway” traffic — ha! — to another pet superstore, which I rapidly discerned was the feline equivalent of a Home Depot (aka 7th circle of hell). I managed to get the carrier and appropriate feeder/waterer and made the mad dash home, where Jill and Emma were trying to keep a by now very suspicious cat from running like the wind.
Confused cat stuffed in carrier, I headed to the cargo depot at National Airport. Thankfully there are signs, but it was somehow less simple than “over the river, through the woods, past grandma’s house and take a left at the light.”
At 11:44, I dashed into the cargo hold, cat and carrier in hand. And then I proceeded to wait for 25 minutes for the intake person to return to her desk and start filling out the paperwork. The last time I saw that many things to initial and sign was when I bought my house.
The clerk informed me that she gets seven or eight dogs to every cat that is shipped off, explaining that's why she continued to call Tatau a puppy despite obvious appearances to the contrary. Combine this with the fact that Jill and I have called Tatau a "he" many more times than we've called her a "she" over the past month, and it would not be a surprise to see kitty therapy in Brian and Elise's future.
To complicate matters further, a gentle giant — all 6 foot and 350 plus pounds of him — came inside the office, took one look inside the cage and stuck his face down in the gate. “What a pretty kitty,” he said in a deceptively high voice. The cat, I’m sure, twitched a little.
Mounds of paperwork later, I left the cat behind, off to a new life with his owners in Chicago. Several hours later, she arrived at O’Hare, only to wait another two hours before Brian could be allowed to pick her up to go home.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, that is the saga of how an 8-pound, 3-ounce cat moved from Northern Virginia to Chicago. Below, I’ve provided you with an illustration of what she looked like before (and likely after) the flight. I can’t even begin to tell you how the humans probably look.
Continuing our series of portraits: Check out this session with the Austin family, taken at various locations in Alexandria, Va., at http://glenncook.virb.com/the-austins.
Looking to the future — Newport News, Va., May 2016
Rising sun — Wintergreen, Va., November 2015
Headless statue — Yorktown, Va., May 2016
Barn signs — Wintergreen, Va., November 2015
Tunnel at night — outside Williamsburg, Va., May 2016
Up from the well — Williamsburg, Va., May 2016
Sun dial — Williamsburg, Va., May 2016
Ferris wheel and rainbow — Lorton, Va., May 2016
Headshots of Myriam, a graduating senior at Robinson Secondary School, are up on my website at http://glenncook.virb.com/myriam. Take a look and consider scheduling your session.
New portraits of Annie, taken earlier this spring in Northern Virginia, are up. Check them out here and schedule your photo session today.
Riding through the sun — Arlington, Va., June 2016
Tree on the water — Yorktown, Va., May 2016
Continuing our recent portrait series... On location photos of Ally, taken just before her graduation from Christopher Newport University, are now up at http://glenncook.virb.com/ally.
Time for breakfast — Jamestown, Va., May 2016
After Sunday's showcase featuring 16 high school seniors, Metropolitan School of the Arts hosted a reception for the soon-to-be graduates, a number of whom have been part of the studio for more than a decade.
Recognized were Ben Cherington, Sarah Christophersen, Emma Cook, Sam Cornbrooks, Nakya Fenderson, Sarah Kelly, Sophia Kleess, Biby Medrano, Georgia Monroe, Gabi Odom, Jeremiah Porter, Veronica Quezada, Lexi Rhem, Amber Supernor, Hank von Kolnitz, and Adia Walker.
To see more photos, go to my Facebook album here.
Emma and Sam Cornbrooks produced the showcase and developed, filmed and edited this video to introduce the event. Congratulations to both of these very talented kids and to all of the performers for their hard work.
George Washington in a snow globe — Yorktown, Va., May 2016
Bales of hay — Wintergreen, Va., November 2015
Chasing a rainbow — Lorton, Va., June 2016
I'm fortunate to be surrounded and supported by wonderful women in this life. To no one's surprise on this day of recognition, two who come quickly to mind are Jill and my mom, Olivia.
As moms, you both have done and continue to do so much for your children and countless others. We would not be the same without you.
Happy Mother's Day, night, and every other day of the year. We love you!
Natural beauty — Great Falls, Va., March 2016
Mountain sunset — Wintergreen, Va., November 2015
Map sculpture — Arlington, Va., April 2016
Staying alive — Great Falls, Va., April 2016
Roll the dice — Leesburg, Va., April 2016
The family cat — Lorton, Va., May 2016
A photographer's financial bread and butter, in addition to portraits, is often reflected by your ability to shoot meetings and events. Over the past couple of years, I've been fortunate to obtain a number of recurring clients.
Over the past month alone, I've taken photos for the Graduate Management Admissions Council's day-long staff retreat, the American Payroll Association's Capitol Summit, the Equal Employment Advisory Council's annual meeting and policy conference, and the American Staffing Association's law conference.
At the GMAC retreat, in addition to the group photo seen here, I compiled photos from the event into a five-minute slideshow that was shown the following day.
To see the slideshow, go to GMAC Staff Retreat 2016. This type of work is part of commissioned services I can provide to clients.
For more photos, go to my Facebook album here.
Fifteen area athletes took part in a benefit Strongman competition Saturday at Gold’s Gym in Lorton to raise money for autism awareness.
Proceeds from the first-ever event, held on World Autism Awareness Day, will be used to sponsor an athlete at the Lift for Autism competition in Hudson Valley, N.Y. on April 16.
Organizers Justin Burcham, Kelly Bryan, and Nick Shelton have been teaching local athletes, clients, class members, and friends pieces of the Strongman sport for several years. Saturday’s competition gave athletes an opportunity to compete in the log clean and press, axle deadlift, farmer’s walk, a sandbag and keg carry medley and tire flip.
Jill and I weren’t able to stay for the entire event because of a previously scheduled trip to New York, but I did manage to capture pictures from the first three events. Congratulations to all involved, and thanks for helping a great cause.
For more photos, go to my Facebook album here.
It's difficult to believe it was just a week ago that I embarked on a 60-hour trip from New York to Tampa to Northern Virginia to move our daughter's stuff home. Now that our garage is sufficiently stuffed with stuff again, here is a summary of random thoughts from the long drive home.
Day 1: Monday
• Flying from New York to Tampa, I spent three hours on a packed airplane — window seat — with Edith Bunker and Sophia from The Golden Girls. Neither stopped talking the entire flight. One leaned over and raised my window while I was trying to take a nap, then explained three times in two minutes that she's "class-tro-phobic." I could resurrect the sitcom stereotype and run for five seasons on that material alone.
• The weather is nice in Florida, but reminds me of growing up on the Texas Gulf Coast. That’s the last time I remember seeing I saw a mosquito drive past in an Escalade.
• Not to make a political statement, but folks down here don’t seem to remember that the war ended 151 years ago. Of course, I know people in Texas who refuse to believe it ever joined the Union.
• I’m in a 12-foot moving van from Florida to Northern Virginia with no CD player or aux cord and spotty FM reception. The local AM conspiracy theorists are coming through loud and clear though.
I want to ask how it's possible to be so pessimistic and paranoid given their proximity to the happiest place on Earth, then realize I'd rather not know the answer and start searching for a sports talk channel. It’s gonna be a long trip...
• Cormac McCarthy won the Pulitzer Prize for “The Road,” his post-apocalyptic tale about a father and son traveling for months across land that has been destroyed by an unspecified cataclysmic event. Pretty much sounds like I-4 between Orlando and Jacksonville.
• Seeing a billboard for a heart specialist between ads for Cracker Barrel and Golden Corral seems sort of beside the point, doesn't it?
• In its next session, the Florida legislature sincerely should consider making an orange cone the state flag. That is, if Pennsylvania and Texas don’t beat them to it.
• Spotted on I-95 after crossing the Florida line: One F-150 towing another F-150. In many states you’d say that was someone helping out a friend. Given the political climate in Georgia these days, it feels like Ford is making a commercial for Brokeback Mountain.
• Speaking of I-95, it’s time to paraphrase Robert Earl Keen with, “The road goes on forever, but the party never begins.”
• Sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up, even if you’re working on next-to-nothing sleep at a Best Western off I-95 somewhere in the sticks of South Carolina... George Mason University received $30 million from the Charles Koch Foundation and an anonymous donor to rename the law school after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. The name they came up with was The Antonin Scalia School of Law, which translates to ASSoL or ASS Law.
Needless to say, I’m sure the Kochs weren’t happy to hear this. The name was quickly changed to The Antonin Scalia Law School.
I needed that.
• I’ve stopped at a couple of places along the way to take pictures. Future stories/photo essays coming up, I’m sure.
• My grandmother rode her first horse in her mid 70s. I feel like I’ve been riding one for 800 miles.
• One stop was in Summerton, S.C., where I spent several months researching a story for the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. Almost 12 years after that story was published, not much has changed in this small town … sadly. (More on that later, too.)
• If Pedro from South of the Border ever becomes the billboard spokesperson for 1-800-Kars4Kids, I promise you I will hurt someone. Consider that a given.
• Post-Pedro billboard observation: North Carolina's internal conflicts are exposed in a 10-mile series of advertisements for Jesus and adult novelty stores that use the name Adam & Eve.
• Not much to report in Virginia. Thank goodness.
• Made it home around 9:30, about 60 hours after leaving New York. Now that all is said and done, I have driven more than 1,000 miles in 2+ days, loaded a small apartment, taken some pics and made it home alive to tell the tale.
Not that I haven’t been telling it all along.
Portraits of soon-to-be high school graduates, many of them aspiring performers, are a large part of my business here in Northern Virginia. Working with dancers, singers, and actors, my goal is to combine aspects of their art with my eye to create images that are captivating, reflective, slightly edgy, and occasionally provocative.
As anyone who follows my work knows, I spend a great deal of time shooting for Metropolitan School of the Arts (MSA), which offers pre-professional training to performers from age 3 to adult. In September 2013, MSA opened a college preparatory performing arts academy at the Workhouse Arts Center for students who want to combine academics with intensive arts training.
The first class graduates this June, so I decided to work on a series of senior portraits for those who are enrolled and attend school at the Workhouse. Nine of the 12 seniors are in Lorton; two are already working as professional performers and are not on site, while one graduated at midyear.
As an associate artist at the Workhouse, a former adult reformatory that was reshaped into a complex for the visual and performing arts, I have long been fascinated by the elements that remain of the former prison. Combining the Workhouse’s physical elements with the students’ performing skills and passion presented an interesting artistic challenge.
The result is this series of portraits that were shot last week. Throughout the month of June, a number of these images will be displayed in gallery W-9, where the Associate Artists show their work.
I hope you enjoy these and others that are on my Facebook photography page.
Waiting for a train — Occoquan, Va., February 2016