Our Assignment: Tell the Williamsburg story through photography
Our time frame: 48 hours
Our instructors: Jennifer Davidson and Krista Rossow from National Geographic
Day One began at o’ dark hundred as our group of four met our instructors to begin our first step—capturing Colonial Williamsburg at sunrise. As luck would have it, there was a lovely mist complimented by a brightening sky. We photographed cannons and buildings, ultimately settling on the Courthouse area. Each shot was met with “Yes, but maybe try this next time.” 224 shots later, the sun was up and we moved to our next location.
This time we were allowed to view Williamsburg from the cupola of the Governor’s Palace. Our lovely hostess, Whitney Thornberry Austin, served as tour guide and model as we captured her opening the Palace and viewing the Green below.
Fortified by a quick coffee at Aroma’s we headed for the Fife & Drum building to understand this important program. Stewart Pittman took us through the history and explained the rigorous steps the current Corps follows. All this, while cameras clicked away!!!
As luck would have it, we walked out to discover both Liberty and Thomas Jefferson headed toward the Stables. The Coach & Livestock department granted us special access to the tack room and the Rare Breed chickens. Best of all, we were allowed to sit in two of the most famous carriages and imagine what Queen Elizabeth and other famous dignitaries must have thought as they were driven through the Historic Area.
The Costume Design Center was next. After viewing amazing costumes and accessories, we were finally allowed to stop and regroup—photos were reviewed and critiqued. During this part of the process, NO Editing is allowed. It is important to see the photos as it happened—not as you wish it had!!
Finally, we headed to rainy Jamestown to capture the sunset. What a wonderful first day.
Day Two we photographed the Farmer’s Market being set up in Merchants Square. Our next assignment was to spend a minimum of 30 minutes in a house and/or a trade. Our instructions were not to use our cameras for the first five minutes as we were to survey and decide what might best tell the story. It is tough to not immediately point and shoot as we so often do. But wait, I did. And rewarded, I was.
Jenny Lynn offered to build a cup for me from scratch as I watched her work in the Tinsmith Shop at Anderson Armoury. What an amazing process to see the tin cut, molded, hammered, and soldered. Best of all, I left with my own cup—a treasure for years to come.
After a photo critique, we practiced panning shots as the various carriages drove past in preparation for the end of day program behind the Courthouse. The final challenge was yet to come.
We were allowed to photograph the dress rehearsal of a Colonial Ball at the Palace. A challenge indeed as there was movement and limited lighting. The amazing dancers executed their steps as we crouched and stood in various places and photographed in burst mode in hopes of a good capture.
All too soon, our 48 hours were up. Jennifer and Krista bid us farewell until next year. We gave each other final hugs and headed our separate ways, home. What remains is more than 1,000 images conveying the magic of Williamsburg. I will be occupied for quite some time as I sort through my photos. With each image, I’m reminded of the treasure that is ours—to relive the glory that was the 18th-century through the magic of Colonial Williamsburg.
GUEST BLOGGER: CINDY MCENERY
Cindy Griffith McEnery is a Raleigh based photographer who travels to Williamsburg every chance she gets. She has been visiting the colonial capital since she was a child and is proud to have introduced both her children and her husband to this special place. She is especially proud of her new role as Mother of the First Lady. As such, she particularly enjoys photographing her daughter, Katharine, as she portrays Martha Washington! When Katharine is not around, she likes to aim the camera toward her son-in-law, Stewart Pittman, who directs the Fifes and Drums Program.
A retired Client Executive, from IBM, Cindy holds degrees in history from Meredith College and Wake Forest University. She is happiest when she can share the magic of Williamsburg with others through the lens of her camera!