Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jim Crow First Person

Cousin Sterling, photographed September 25, 2010 by Shannon Finney

One of the first things you should know about Cousin Sterling is that he loves to talk…and talk and talk some more, until he’s worn you out, and then he moves onto the next person. As you try to politely disengage, he then puts the “grip” on you, seizing your hand and going in for another round on whatever topic has caught his attention. Sitting outside at the old family farm for our family reunion picnic this past weekend I found myself face to face with Cousin Sterling. And as he began his ramble about the state of the world, I interjected with what I thought would lighten the mood - an off-the-cuff comment about what Sterling thought about the Washington Redskins football team.  What I received, instead, was Sterling’s response that he was not and would never be a fan of the Redskins because they were racist. The conversation that unfolded was nothing that I could have anticipated. Sterling told me of his dreams for a career in pro-football. He told me of his on-field exploits while playing college ball at Howard University, and he told me how his personal dreams collided with the prejudice of then-Redskins owner, George Preston Marshall, whose refusal to integrate the team left Cousin Sterling in limbo. In the end it would take the efforts of Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall in 1961 to force Marshall’s hand and integrate the Redskins. But for Cousin Sterling, it would be too late. He would go on to play for the then-Baltimore Colts until a career-ending knee injury in his first season would sideline his pro-football career permanently.  In his 70s now, Cousin Sterling spends his days selling flowers from his truck on the roadside, talking to whoever will listen. I hope they listen well.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Intellectuals

The Intellectuals, Photographed November 2009, New Haven, CT

I shot this during a morning stroll around New Haven. The air outside was crisp and cold, but inside was all warmth and quiet. Everything about this interior scene repeats this duality - the quartet at table bundled up in their hats and gloves gripping their hot cups of coffee; the heavy, velvet drapes framing the ice-cold landscape. There is a sense of coldness, of disengagement from the group as they sit with each other, but do not interact with each other.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Budapest, My Love

Budapest, My Love, Photo by Shannon Finney, 2010 Budapest

In the age of Facebook, and MySpace and Twitter and YouTube, it would seem that there is nothing left that can truly shock someone. Reality TV adds the extra dimension of multiple cameras and curious group living situations to rachet up the action. But the most unexpected thing that I encountered was along the streets of Budapest, Hungary where I witnessed lovers sharing long, lingering kisses and noted that no one else seemed to mind! Here at home, this is the stuff of hormonal teenagers or of illicit, adulterous grown-ups. The sensual has become the perverse, so much so that we even develop a careful, manicured vocabulary to mute the power of this connection - calling a kiss a "public display of affection" or PDA, the same three-letter acronym used for your Blackberry or iPhone! Asking your crush if you can "hang out" when you really want to ask "will you love me?" What I saw when I photographed this couple was so immediate and intense that the only way I could describe it was with this image.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Love and Confetti

Love and Confetti, photo by Shannon Finney

Along with the Redskins vs. Cowboys match-up this past Sunday, the DMV (that's the Washington, DC metropolitan area) was host to another event which makes thousands of fans cheer - the Washington Bridal Showcase! Despite a soggy Sunday morning start, more than one thousand brides came out to the bridal showcase bringing their energy, their ideas, and their overflowing wedding binders! It's like we all decided that no one was going to rain on our parade, which brings me to the above photo which I shot on the occasion of a wedding. Their's was a story of love found, lost, and then found again. They planned their wedding for months, and every detail was well-thought out, save for the weather. The dark clouds rolled in on the eve of their nuptuals, and by their wedding day, sheets of rain pounded the streets of Alexandria. But the bride and groom were all smiles and laughter and tears of joy because they knew that rain is just weather, and that on our best days, love and confetti are all that you need:)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Start Your Engines!

Start Your Engines!

The first person to say that life is a marathon, not a sprint, was obviously not planning their wedding! No matter how far in advance you book your caterer, find the perfect reception spot, and say yes to THE dress, there are always the dozens of other wedding day tasks that crowd those final months before the big day. My own wedding day became a cram session of seating charts, wedding favor assembly, and the search for shoes after a last-minute reconsideration of my ability to stand in 3-inch heels for 10 hours. And now, with the advent of reality television, the complex engineering that goes on behind-the-scenes of your wedding day are exposed, throwing brides-to-be into new heights of worry as we watch wedding cake disasters, dress stains, and wonder if this will happen on our own wedding day! The one ray of hope that I can provide is this: your wedding day will be the best day. It will not be perfect. It will be an expression of you as a couple, and of all of your hopes and your dreams for a life shared in deep and committed love. That’s better than perfect. So grab your over-stuffed wedding binders and your tabs and highlighters, book those dance lessons, and start your engines for the journey of a lifetime.

Visit Shannon Finney Photography at the Washington Bridal Showcase!

Come on out to the Washington Bridal Showcase on Sunday, September 12, 2010 from 11:00AM to 5:00PM at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA! Check out our booth and talk to Shannon Finney and her team about your wedding and engagement photography!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Portrait of Mildred the Wise, 2010

Portrait of Mildred the Wise, photographed by Shannon Finney, Washington, DC June 2010

Portraits have the ability to tell the truth about their subject and about their author. I met Mildred's daughter by happenstance and as she told me about Mildred, about her long vibrant life filled with hard work and family, I wanted the chance and the challenge of telling a bit of her story. At the time of our sitting, Mildred was in the advanced stages of vision loss and her verbal ability was limited to low moans. But her body remained strong, and etched in her face were the traces of her youthful self.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bicycle from the Spring Lake 2010 Series

Bicycle from the Spring Lake 2010 Series by Shannon Finney

The simplest things can be the most visually satisfying. The thing that made me photograph this was the simple play of shapes - the circles of the tires, the lines of the wooden slats of the boardwalk, the vertical post and the lines of the beach and shoreline. I wanted to minimize the distraction of color and focus just on shapes and shadow. The scene was in full sun which only served to further harden the lines to great effect. I enhanced the grain, exaggerating it to warm the almost clinical brightness of the photo.This is one of my favorite images.   - Shannon Finney