blacksburg

Personal Work | Kenn

We photographed our friend Kenn back in March for the heck of it, and because he's such a cool dude. He was super kind in letting us use him as a model and his awesome shop as a backdrop while we had some fun with different lighting set-ups. Kenn is a gear head, rocks out to good music--and gives a great haircut. He just opened up his own barber shop in downtown Blacksburg and has done a bang up job inserting his personality and vision into it, outfitting it with old car and garage signs, a retro radio he restored, a steel tool chest for all his hair cutting tools and a glass jug filled with "moonshine" in the corner. He even has hair products that are packaged like fuel cleaner. His place has a warm nostalgic feel--it really isn't like any other hair salon you'll go to, and Kenn backs it up with haircutting skillz. If you are in Blacksburg and need your do done, stop by his place for the best haircut in town.

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The Black Twig Pickers

Way back in 2012, December to be exact, we photographed The Black Twig Pickers for their latest album release, Rough Carpenters, on Thrill Jockey Records. We'd been trying to get together for this shoot for a while, and finally, after playing a local show on a freezing Saturday night, we dragged them outside with no coats on. They were up for anything--which was pretty amazing since they had just played for several hours and it was after midnight--and they kept warm by continuing to showcase their energetic talents out on the sidewalk. Fully expecting our group (of under-dressed musicians, photographer on a stool, guy holding a 5-ft octa box and friend holding a tree branch out of the way) to be gawked or yelled at, passers-by and drunk college students instead stopped to listen with genuine appreciation of their music, nodding, clapping and dancing along. The whole night was a ton of fun, even though the shoot itself was quite a whirlwind.

If you haven't heard The Black Twig Pickers, definitely check them out. They serve up a boisterous and energetic collection of old-time music that will get you up and moving and listening to their albums over and over again.

Here are some others we took that evening--including a couple taken during their show and in the beer shop next door.

Winter's dormancy and camera phones

We went to Brown Farm (a.k.a. Heritage Park) not too long ago, an open-space in town that provides nice walking paths, trails, and a place for Eastwood to run around and pee on all the things. Going out on short trips like this, I tend to forget or leave my camera at home and usually end up regretting it. Thank goodness for the continuing advancement of camera phones. Perhaps I shouldn't still be amazed...I mean, new astounding technology has just become the norm these days. But the camera on my phone has come to mostly replace our little Canon point-n-shoot, and is a fine fill-in for times just like these, when I notice the lovely things around me while on an afternoon walk. It's been an unusually warm winter for the most part here in the southwestern part of Virginia, but the landscape is still stark and quiet as it always is this time of the year, allowing us to really appreciate the contours of the land.

Kappas and the tree

Over two years ago, life-long Blacksburg resident Chris Kappas asked if I could take some photos of him and the big Sycamore tree that resided just outside his office in downtown Blacksburg. It had just been announced that the tree would be cut down come summer. The tree had been sickly for sometime, and a lot of residents had noticed that each year it was a little less robust, standing a little less strong, and never leafing out as much as the year before. Nearly 140 years old, it had become a much loved icon and institution in Blacksburg, and Chris, a town institution himself, remembers climbing its trunk and branches when it was still small enough to do so. For many of us that have grown up in this town, the Sycamore was a constant figure, always providing a hillside of shade during our humid mountain summers and adding a burst of brilliant yellow in the fall. In most of these photos, Chris stood posed, looking straight into the camera, but I was able to sneak a frame or two of him being more reflective.