Friday, December 30, 2011

Shannon the Photo Gal's 2011 Year in Review

It's been an amazing year of incredible stories, from earthquakes to epic winter storms, and stories closer to home. I've taken thousands of photographs in 2011 and here is a brief highlights reel of the year in review as captured through my camera lens. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

JANUARY- In January 2011, we were singing "Ice, Ice Baby" with
brutally cold temperatures and treacherous ice storms that left
thousands stranded on Washington, DC area highways for hours.

FEBRUARY - While most east coasters dream of sunny skies and warmer
climates during February, Washingtonians who are more
theatrically inclined look forward to the announcement of nominees
for theatreWashington's annual Helen Hayes Awards. Below, Rick
Hammerly of Factory 449 and theatreWashington's Linda Levy
Grossman share a dramatic moment for the camera.

MARCH - While the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade is legendary
and larger than life, I'm a fan of Old Town Alexandria's celebration. Below,
two dancers take a well-deserved break in the courtyard of the
historic Christ Church.

APRIL - Who is that high-flying young girl? Why it's Margot, enjoying
a fantastic Easter Sunday moment with her dad, Chris.

MAY - It's a great thing when two friends come together and make a family.
For John and Tiffany that dream came true and the joy on their wedding
day was palpable.

JUNE - Homecomings come in all different varieties, and when David returned
to U.S. soil after serving his country in far-off hot spots, all he needed was a
comfortable tile floor at Dulles Airport and his daughter.

JULY - Summertime and the living in Washington, DC was anything but easy.
It's during times like these that a park bench and a shave-ice are your
only chances for relief, until your little brother attempts to pick off
of your cold treat!

AUGUST - Washington, DC's National Mall is a rarefied parcel of land that
has managed to avoid the slapdash architectural sprawl that can ruin a city.
So it was with great anticipation that Washingtonians awaited the
construction and dedication of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. national
memorial. When the memorial opened in August, neither DC's
outrageous humidity nor the swarms of mosquitoes dogging our every
step could keep tourists and locals away.

SEPTEMBER - In late August 2011, Washingtonians were shaken, not stirred, by
an earthquake and a series of aftershocks that made us all think we'd been
transported from the banks of the Potomac to the Pacific coast! All of that
rocking and rolling put some of the landmarks of the Nation's Capitol
at risk, chief among them being the Washington Monument. By September,
a high-flying team of inspectors repelled down the side of the monument,
a stunt you'd more likely see in a Nick Cage movie, and not in real life.

OCTOBER - For those of you who want to step up your Halloween game,
the annual High Heels Race in DC's Dupont Circle neighborhood is the
scene. The 2011 race marked the gathering's 25th anniversary and the
two divas below showed us why this ain't no simple game of dress-up!

NOVEMBER - For 2011, we kept the turkey, ditched the football, and picked
up the Jackman, actually, actor Hugh Jackman at his one-man Broadway show. After
nearly 40 rain-soaked minutes outside of the Broadhurst Theatre, my patience
was rewarded when the Jackman appeared!

DECEMBER - If you think there are angels hovering around, well then December
is the month for you! These little cherubim put on their best halos for an annual
Christmas pageant.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Christmas Pageant

An annual holiday tradition is the children's Christmas Pageant. Some pageants feature splashy lighting and production numbers that rival Broadway shows, while others opt for the homespun feeling of little kids deciding to put on a show. One of my favorite pageants takes place at Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, with the children portraying Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds in the field, and the animals who shared the stall where baby Jesus was born. I can't think of a better way to get in a Christmas mood:)

Friday, December 2, 2011

November Sky

November Sky, photographed November 26, 2011 in Washington, DC by Shannon Finney

Sometimes the perfect photograph happens when you're busy doing
something else. That was the case with this photo. My husband and
I were driving through Washington, DC after a birthday party for my mom.
We were fighting heavy traffic when my husband decided to take a detour
home, up Pennsylvania Avenue. It was dusk and and the warm day was giving
way to a cooler night. We decided to take our detour even farther, ending
up at the west front of the U.S. Capitol, and that's when I looked to my right.
My husband barely had time to stop the car when I darted out, camera in hand.
Dozens of people were milling about but all was quiet. I think we were all
captivated by the dazzling November sky blanketing us from above, this
celestial sea of pinks/oranges/blues. In a city with so many amazing
landmarks and architectural splendors - the Washington Monument,
the Capitol dome, etc. - it's nice to marvel at a truly natural wonder.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Picture of the Day: All in a Day's Work

Photograph by Shannon Finney, November 6, 2011, Alexandria, Virginia

A "must-see" event in the life of a church is a baptism. While this is a sacred rite of passage, in churches where children and infants are christened, this solemn moment is sometimes punctuated by the unexpected and the humorous, as in the photo above. Rector Pierce Klemmt of Christ Church in Old Town Alexandria, VA, though, handled this temperamental tot like a pro, and soon she was all smiles.   

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Stars Come Out: theatreWashington's 2011 Star Gala and Benefit Auction

theatreWashington celebrated it's official launch this week with a gala and auction benefiting their ongoing efforts for the Washington, DC theatre community. Jaylee Mead, benefactor extraordinaire of Washington theatre, was presented with the "Helen's Star" Award and Eleasha Gamble, actress and star of Arena Stage's production of "Oklahoma!", gave Star Gala guests a marvelous musical send-off.

Molly Smith of Arena Stage and Linda Levy Grossman

Ari Roth of Theatre J

Helen's Star award recipient Jaylee Mead along with Victor Shargai

Jaycee Haywood with Victor Shargai

The Picnic Theatre Company

Michael Bobbitt of Adventure Theatre with Dorothy McSweeney

Eric Schaeffer of Signature Theatre

Felicia Curry and Eleasha Gamble

Victor Shargai

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Highflying Moments at the Washington Monument

Photograph by Shannon Finney, September 29, 2011, Washington, DC

We've seen it all here in Washington, DC, from hurricanes to flash
floods to political parties locked in conflict, and even the odd Presidential
Inauguration, but this past August topped all when an earthquake,
centered an hour down the road, hit the area. While most of us
were spared major devastation, several iconic structures, including
the National Cathedral and the Washington Monument, were damaged.
This week, engineers took to the skies, repelling down the sheer
face of the Washington Monument to assess the earthquake damage,
and we're all taken out our cameras to capture this very rare sight.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Life's a Beach: The Wild Wave Riders of Spring Lake

The Wild Wave Riders of Spring Lake, photographed August 2011 Spring Lake, New Jersey
by Shannon Finney

The trip to Spring Lake, New Jersey is an annual summertime ritual for my family.
It's a special time, with all day sessions in the sands and sea on the Jersey shore.
It's a Snooki-free day at the beach where my nieces and nephews are the stars
of the show. This is one of my favorite shots from a perfect day at the beach.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Life Is a Beach: Hot Sand, Blue Sky

From the Life Is a Beach series, photographed August 2010, Spring Lake, New Jersey by Shannon Finney

The sun, sand, sky and sea often combine to make the most interesting
pictures. I know that shooting in the bright, midday sun is usually viewed as
an exercise in frustration. The best books on photography characterize a
photographer's relationship with direct sunlight as adversarial, so I decided to
embrace the sunlight in this photograph. It's a lot of fun to break the rules,
and it seems that there's no better time than while on vacation:)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Life Is a Beach: Beach, Bucket, Baby

Photograph by Shannon Finney, Summer 2008, Spring Lake, New Jersey

While most of the United States is in the grip of one of the
worst heatwaves in history, it's nice to be reminded of cooler
times and ocean breezes. This is one of my favorite
reminders of the joys of summer:)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Boys of Summer 2011

Photographs by Shannon Finney, Shot on location, July 5, 2011, Washington, DC

Summer in the city is usually a series of mad dashes along the crowded, fire-hot sidewalks into the crisp air-conditioned cold of an office building or the sticky
steaminess of a subway car. But for the city's smallest citizens, summer time is
the time for endless days, swimming pools, and the intense delight of a sudden
downpour. Children see summer through ice cream cones and frozen pops, and the
feeling of fresh, wet grass under their bare feet. On a trip to the National Zoo
the other day with my nephews, I forgot the boiling hot sun and simply enjoyed a
day filled with shaved ice, amazing animals, and memories of my own carefree
summer days.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Coming Home

Photographs by Shannon Finney, June 27, 2011

In honor of Veterans' Day, here is a repost of one of my favorite
Shannon the Photo Gal moments:)

Monday morning was one of the best mornings I've had in a while. I skipped
my usual double espresso and, instead, headed out to the airport to
witness the arrival of my friend, David, from a yearlong military
deployment. Looking at his wife Julie and their daughter, Evie,
throw their arms around each other, I wondered about this
innate impulse every creature has for home. Home is a place of
rest and a place of joy, and on days like today, I can't help
but feel that this longing for home isn't God's way of showing us
a glimpse of God's nature. So welcome home, David, and to the
hundreds more who are taking this same journey.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Selections from the Summer, Sand, and Sea Series

"A Prayer", Photo by Shannon Finney, April 2007, Outer Banks, North Carolina

When I'm at the beach, my favorite time of day is early
morning, before the brightly colored umbrellas begin
to dot the sand scape, before the first sandcastles of the
day have been constructed, and before the screams and
giggles of the children at play on a day at the beach. In
the morning, the only sounds are waves and gulls. On
the morning that I snapped this photo, I had noticed this
lone surfer striding down the beach, board in tow, each
step more deliberate than the next. And then he stopped,
and stood looking out. I don't know if he was praying or
meditating or just simply looking out, enjoying the view.
But for that moment, the beach was transformed into
sacred space.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Portrait of the Artist: Composer/Conductor Julian Wachner

Photograph by Shannon Finney, July 2010, Washington, DC

It's always fun when a portrait shoot takes an unexpected twist, and when
the shoot involves Julian Wachner, well let's just say that it wasn't all
THAT unexpected:) Julian sports lots of titles: doctor, maestro, composer
organist, pianist, professor, and, the most recent addition, Director of Music
and Arts for the renowned music program at Trinity Wall Street Episcopal
in Lower Manhattan. But behind all of the genius is a generous man
with a great sense of humor, and hence the photo above. While it
may not make his next CD cover, it's got a place of honor on my wall.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Portrait of an Artist: Actor Christopher Bloch

Christopher Bloch, photographed April 7, 2008 by Shannon Finney

This month, Shannon the Photo Gal is celebrating the creative arts, and
actor Christopher Bloch is featured in this edition of Shannon the Photo Gal.
Washington, DC theatre audiences have enjoyed watching Christopher
the Camelion transform himself from a Russian fixer in, "Chess" to the swarthy
Esteban in "Kiss of the Spider Woman". Critics also love his versitility, as
evidenced by his 2009 Helen Hayes Theatre Awards win for his supporting
comedic role in Signature Theater's "Les Miserables." I photographed
Christopher in 2008 when he was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for
"Christmas Carol 1941." I like this photo so much because it's
Christopher minus the stage make-up and the costumes. It was a
great opportunity to get behind the curtain.

To view more Helen Hayes Awards portraits, click here:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Portrait of an Artist

Photograph by Shannon Finney

I've always been curious about movement, which is why I've always
been fascinated by the people who think about and design movement.
Natsu Onoda Power is a theatre director/set designer/author who is
thinking about movement and narrative in ways that challenge
the way audiences experience theatre.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Holy Week 2011

Palm Sunday 2011, photographed on April 17, 2011 by Shannon Finney

I spent this past Sunday out in the early morning with my camera, looking
for a little bit of the Easter spirit. Growing up, I thought that Easter was about
shiny new shoes and Easter bonnets and dresses the color of cotton candy. This
year, I wanted to get back to the simple core of meaning of the Easter season,
and I found it in a church yard just outside of Washington, DC. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Very Special Cherry Blossom Festival 2011

In Full Bloom, photographed 2010, Washington, DC by Shannon Finney

The 2011 Cherry Blossom Festival officially opens this weekend in
Washington, DC, an annual ritual that celebrates the historic gift of the
cherry blossoms from Japan. And with the recent triple calamities that
have befallen the Japanese people, this year's festival has an almost memorial
feel. Growing up here in Washington, DC, I spent hours down along
the Tidal Basin, walking among the pink and white blooms. I also remember
how sad I was when the blossoms ceased their blooming, and all that once
lived seemedshrouded in death. But, then another year arrives and the blossoms
come back to bloom, back to life. It is a timely message of hope.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The New Lords of the Dance

Paata Tsikurishvili of Synetic Theater (left) and Septime Webre of The Washington Ballet,
photographed October 2008, Washington, DC, by Shannon Finney

Washington, DC is not only the nation's capitol, but it is also the center of the evolution of dance. Paata Tsikurishvili, co-founder of Synetic Theater, blends dance, theater, and film to create an entirely new experience of movement. Septime Webre, artistic director of The Washington Ballet, was famous first as a dancer, working with the giants of dance, including Merce Cunningham, Alvin Ailey, and George Balanchine. As a choreographer, Webre wows Washington audiences in performances that sparkle with wit and crackle with Webre's fresh point of view.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Einstein in the Snow

Einstein in the Snow, photographed in Washington, DC in February 2010 by Shannon Finney

One of my favorite monuments in a town full of great monuments is
tucked away in a grove of holly and elm trees on the grounds of the
National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC. The twelve foot
tall statue of Albert Einstein, by sculptor Robert Berks, has a rough-hewn
quality that makes it look as it were cut from treebark. To sit there
with Albert is a magical experience.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ice, Ice, Baby!!

Leaf in Ice, from An Ice Storm series, photographed January 18, 2011 by Shannon Finney

Winter is my favorite time of the year to photograph. The skies are a
hundred different shades of grey, or the brightest, clearest blue when
the sun breaks through. I could hear the icy rain on the rooftop all
through the night, and when I awoke, I found the landscape outside my
door transformed. This leaf seemed to emerge from under 
its icy blanket. 

View more images from this series by clicking here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Aunt Lucille

Aunt Lucille, photographed July 2007, Upper Marlboro, Maryland by Shannon Finney

My Aunt Lucille was always larger than life. She was tall with large hands and bright,
big eyes that barely hid the mischief behind them. She was my maternal grandmother
Sarah's,sister, and watching the two of them together was curious to me, as
I imagined them as young girls, two sassy women fussing with each other
and laughing with each other.  On the day that I took this portrait of Aunt
Lucille, she spied me approaching with my camera just as she was bumming
a cigarette from one of her nephews. Smoking had been Aunt Lucille's constant
vice and her children tried their best to get her to kick the habit. She smiled
at me as she sat tall and strong, her right hand gripping her walker,
her left hand clutching her cigarette, with a look on her face, a look
that I had seen her give my grandmother all of those years ago. A look of
defiance and mischief. My grandmother has long since passed away, and
Aunt Lucille died a few years ago, but what makes me smile is imagining the
first words that passed between these two as Aunt Lucille crossed the
threshold of those pearly gates,  welcomed home, a cigarette in her hands
and that rye smile on her lips.