Thursday, December 13, 2012

In Celebration of Small Wonders

Photograph by Shannon Finney, December 2009, Alexandria, Virginia

One of my favorite childhood memories was Grandma hauling out the big box from the back of the closet with our family Nativity scene. The figurines were small and chipped from decades of wear and tear and Christmastime appearances. Grandma would let my sister and I set up the figurines on the coffee table in the living room, though I would wander in and out of the room throughout the holidays adjusting the figures, and treating them like Biblical action figures. My love of miniatures continues, but it reaches its zenith at Christmas. I photographed the above Nativity scene several years ago at a church in Old Town Alexandria, and it's one of my favorites. It feels like a three-dimensional, pastoral painting, set in rural Europe, rather than in the Middle East. The humans and the barnyard animals all have that calm, bemused expression on their faces, which makes this small wonder a visual treat.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Portrait of an Artist: Molly Smith

Photo by Shannon Finney, October 2012, Washington, DC

When Molly Smith was named artistic director of Arena Stage in Washington, DC, people wondered how a risk-taking champion of new plays, and old plays in new ways, would do in this buttoned-down town. Now, the question is what would this buttoned-down town have done without her. And while there have been countless articles written about her, seeking to describe and dissect her approach to theatre, the photograph above shows the simple of truth behind her dedication to this art form, and that is love - a pure love of theatre's ability to communicate directly to an audience. I took this photo as Ms. Smith was being serenaded by Nicholas Rodriguez, star of Arena Stage's current production of "My Fair Lady", singing "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Oh, Deer - Or, How a Wedding Shoot Became a Wild Adventure

Oh, Deer!, Photo by Shannon Finney

While wedding crashers may not be common, far less common are
wedding crashers galloping top-speed through a wedding reception,
but that's exactly what happened at a recent wedding shoot. Bambi
appeared at the edge of a nature preserve that backs up to the reception site,
and when the poor dear (or deer) noticed the hundred or so guests
dining inside of the tent, he or she sped off, running towards the
two trees where the wedding ceremony had taken place earlier. Looking
on were two of the wedding guests - a mother and her son who were
mere feet away from our galloping gate crasher.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Say "Cheese!"

Photograph by Shannon Finney Photography, October 2012, Burke, Virginia

Photographs of large groups are usually a study in proportion and precision, but that's only in the finished product. I've found that the time between the takes is the most fun. My favorite moment in this photograph has to be the little girl standing arm-raised on the left side of the image - she's a superstar in the making!

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Love Letter in Photos to Jaylee Mead

This week, all of Washington, DC and the theatre world beyond the Beltway celebrated the life of Jaylee Mead. Her passing this week brought forth tributes from several generations of actors, actresses, directors, and writers. We have all been touched, in some way, by Mrs. Mead's passion for performance and her generosity. I first met Mrs. Mead, along with her late husband, Gilbert, at a charity event about fifteen years ago. I was working at a radio station and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and there were the Meads, talking excitedly with the young artists we were there to fete. Over the years, I would see the Meads, and later, just Mrs. Mead, at other arts and charity events, always excitedly talking to the performers and encouraging them to live out their creative dreams. When I made the decision to pursue photography full time, there was Mrs. Mead, talking excitedly to me. I spent one of the best afternoons at Mrs. Mead's home. With the sparkling Potomac River glistening just beyond her balcony, Mrs. Mead shared with me a bit of her story, including old scrapbooks and photos. She taught me that generosity isn't just about writing a big check - no, it's simpler than that. It's about giving your whole heart enthusiastically and unreservedly. She will be missed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Endless Summer - A Love Note

Now that we've experienced the first fifty-degree morning, there is no better time
than now to look back fondly at the summer that was. I took this photo on the
last day of my vacation. My husband and I awoke at dawn and headed down
to the beach at Spring Lake, New Jersey. The sand was dewy and cold,
and aside from the seagulls and a stray jogger, there was this lone surfer,
waiting for his wave. Sitting atop the water, he was absorbed into a
backdrop of blues and oranges and yellows - a visual last hurrah for summer:)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Travelog: A Quiet Moment on the Gulf of Thailand

Photograph by Shannon Finney, Pran Buri, Thailand, 2008

During these hot August days, when the heat is unrelenting and oppressive,
it's nice to think of days spent on a beach, enjoying cool ocean breezes.
This is one of my favorite photographs. I shot it on location in Pran Buri,
about two and a half hours drive from Bangkok, Thailand. I remember
the quiet - just the water lapping up to the shore and the whisper of
the breeze through the gauze of the curtains separating the room from
the terrace. It was that whisper I wanted to capture, to freeze that
sound, or at least the idea of that sound.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Quiet Wedding Day Moment by Little Seneca Creek

The Bride and Groom catch their breath creek side at
The Lodge at Little Seneca Creek (Boyds, Maryland)

At the end of a week that saw near-daily thunderstorms, and a national tragedy that
has gripped this country, it was refreshing to witness two people declare their love
and commitment to each other on a field of green surrounded by their families and friends.
On Sunday afternoon, as Holly began her walk down the aisle in the dress she
made herself, an ominous dark cloud approached overhead. The seated guests
all began to plan their exits should the rains come, but, the rains didn't come.
Instead, the sun began to pierce its way through the veil of clouds, and
Holly and Craig said their I do's under skies that were dry. After the ceremony,
we hiked down to the Little Seneca Creek, and in the quiet and the calm,
standing under the canopy of trees, a little patch of sunlight pushed its way through,
like a scene from an Impressionist painting.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Dog Days of Summer

Perry the dog takes a break from the heat, photographed at
The Lodge at Little Seneca Creek, July 14, 2012

While all of the east coast has been headed to the nearest air-conditioned car/movie theater/family room, I met Perry the dog resting on the cool wood of a bench on a front porch.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy Campers!

Julie Simonton leads Vacation Bible School campers, photographed by Shannon Finney, Grace Episcopal Church, Alexandria, VA

It's summertime, and, for some children, that means a one-week tradition called Vacation Bible School. VBS mixes traditional day camp activities, like cooking and games, with religious instruction, including daily chapel services. With campers ranging in age from three year olds to tweens, and a volunteer teacher force comprised of parents and ministers, this week long intergenerational gathering is pure energy.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hot, but not Bothered: How One Couple Didn't Fret Over a Heat Wave

The Bride and Groom share a moment in the cool of the shade, photographed June 30, 2012 at Chantilly National Golf and Country Club, Centreville, Virginia

Long before there's a wedding day, there's the planning for the wedding day, and no matter how many hours have been spent selecting the perfect caterer, and finding the most meaningful first dance song, nothing can prepare a couple for those Acts of God which push temperatures into the 100-degree territory or cut off the electricity to the ceremony site on your wedding day - both of which happened to the bride and groom above. Brittney and Todd couldn't have been any happier, and so, as a tribute to their ability to not let a lil ole heat wave get them hot under the collar, or the veil, here are a few fond memories from a wedding day they will never forget!

Let them eat cake!
In case you ever wondered what the ring bearers do AFTER the wedding!

Brittney and shares a special moment with her grandmother

An end of the night party favor in the wedding's theme color

The first dance of many dances to come...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Yeah, Dad!

Charlie and Shane, photographed by Shannon Finney, Alexandria, VA

On Father's Day, we often refer to dads as superheros, as if they
were leaping tall buildings. But, the best dads do their work on the ground,
helping their little ones soar instead. Happy Father's Day! And for
more Father's Day inspiration, check out the Father's Day photo gallery.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pomp and Circumstance - The Junior Edition

Pomp and circumstance, photographed June 8, 2012, Seabrook, Maryland

June is the month of beginnings and endings - punctuated by weddings
and graduations, and the sound of "Pomp and Circumstance". And while
high school and college graduates get most of the attention, it's the littlest
graduates who grab the spotlight in the photo above.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Tribute to Chuck Brown

Chuck Brown, photographed at The Space, Washington, DC, August 24, 2008 by Shannon Finney 

On Wednesday, May 16, 2012, legendary musician Chuck Brown died at age 75. Aside from being an extraordinary musician, Chuck Brown was known as the
founder of Go-Go, a form of music he developed in the early 1970s in Washington,
DC. describes Go-Go music as, "continuous, complex heavy
rhythm arrangements focused through two thematic patterns performed on multiple
congas, timbale and roto-toms, interspersed with tambourine and cowbell parts, driven
by heavy-footed drumming and punctuated by crowd 'call and response' as in many
African-American church sermons." While these words accurately describe Go-Go,
the music is defined by the people who play it and the feelings of those
of us in the crowd, moving and grooving to the Go-Go beat. Thank you, Mr. Brown,
for the gift you gave to us, and for the gift you were to us.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dance Hits New Heights: A Night at the Old Post Office Pavilion

Project Bandaloop performs Bound(less), photographed May 11, 2012, Washington, DC, Old Post Office Pavilion 
The Old Post Office Pavilion became a backdrop for one of the most dazzling spectacles seen in Washington, DC since the Inauguration. Project Bandaloop, the San Francisco-based dance troop, brought their gravity-defying, large scale vertical dance, Bound(less) to the main clock tower face of the Pavilion. You couldn't help but look up! Performed with live music by Dana Leong, it was a most spectacular way to spend an evening.

Click here to view more images from this performance!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Portrait of Motherhood: Sheila

Whenever I find myself in a conversation among a group of women who are mothers I am always struck by the collegiality of the exchange. It's like a group of army veterans sharing boot camp memories, trading war stories, and showing off their scars. These women are battle-tested, having survived epic diaper explosions, and long nights at the ER with a distressed six-month old. No matter how they came to be mothers - whether by chance or by choice - and no matter their backgrounds and personalities,  the universality of their experiences remains. I've been interested in capturing who these women are, and how they came to be moms.  I started with Sheila, pictured below. A mother of two, Sheila's journey into motherhood took her from a high-pressure sales job to the high-pressure world of the stay-at-home mom. Her uniform is jeans, t-shirts, tennis shoes or boots, and a large bag. I wanted to photograph her in a moment of calm, without the kids and the chaos:) 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mommy and Me: a Mother's Day Photo Gallery

Up in the Air, photographed in Reston, Virginia, February 2009

There's nothing better than spending a not-so-quiet Saturday afternoon with that special person in your life, especially when that person is your mom, and MOST especially when that mom gives the best airplane rides, and can sooth your tears with a kiss:)

Mommy and Me, photographed in Milford, Connecticut, July 2007

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Friday Night (Pillow) Fights!

Pillow Fight, photographed April 2012, Washington, DC, by Shannon Finney Photography

Sometimes, when life gets too serious and you need to cut loose, then you'd better grab a pillow and a few hundred friends and let the feathers, or the foam, fly! The epic pillow fight, pictured above, was held as a part of National Pillow Fight Day, on the National Mall.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Symphony Silenced

I spent my Friday lunchtime in a most unusual way - listening to the soaring strings of the National Symphony Orchestra in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. While the NSO Friday matinee concerts have been a Washington, DC tradition for decades, the NSO's recent announcement that these concerts will be discontinued for the 2012-2013 season has sent a shock wave through this usually collegial crowd of concertgoers. On my 3-escalator ascent from the parking garage to the box office, I passed the usual gaggle of high school tour groups, but then, things became grayer, actually, the people became grayer. One by one, they made their way along the concourse, some with canes, some with walkers, some in wheelchairs. They greeted each other warmly, as if they were old friends, but amongst the friendly conversations was anger about the end of an era. Out on the terrace overlooking the Potomac River, they sat, eating sandwiches under the shade of the trees, splitting cans of soda, and enjoying, to the last, the fleeting moments - both musical and otherwise.

Concertgoers on their way to the NSO Friday matinee

Concertgoers on their way into the Kennedy Center Concert Hall

Friends catching up on the Kennedy Center terrace before the Friday matinee

Lunch under the trees on the Kennedy Center terrace before the Friday matinee

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Sunday Styles for the Sippy Cup Set

Easter Sunday is always a great prelude for spring styles, and this year did not disappoint, with even the smallest people sporting some major panache - and all while enjoying a traditional Easter egg hunt, to boot! For the sippy-cup set, Spring 2012 is all about the classics - from saddle buck shoes to seersucker and Kangol caps. Enjoy the Easter fashion parade:)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Suprasensorial Experience

One of the highlights of this early DC spring is Suprasensorial: Experiments in Light, Color, and Space, the new exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The show features large-scale installations by five artists, representing Argentina, Venezuela, and Brazil, who turned away from traditional art and turned toward subjective forms based on light, color, motion and space. The experience was, at turns, intense, wondrous, and fun. It's not often that you go to an art gallery and they tell you to touch the artwork! One of my favorite works has to be Carlos Cruz-Diez's (French, b. Venezuela 1923), Chromosaturation. It's a three dimensional work that plays with blue, magenta and green. It's a rather large work, with an interior and exterior space, with three windows that, when inside of the space, act more as mirrors.  And as you will see from the photos below, it's proof that color and mood go hand-in-hand.

For more photos, visit the Shannon Finney Photography Facebook page!

Monday, March 19, 2012

2012 Cherry Blossom Highlights!

This week, the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC is in full bloom as the famed
cherry blossoms hit their peak. Shannon the Photo Gal spent Monday morning
amongst the splendor and here are a few highlights from the shoot. Want to view
more 2012 Cherry Blossom Festival photos? Click here!