Real Expression

Using a camera to reproduce what our eyes see is a technological challenge that seems to get easier every day. But putting into pixels what your heart feels as your finger hovers over the shutter button – now that’s a different story.

For those who have worked with me, such musings may seem a-characteristic. I’m a very technical person; someone who loves figuring out how to make something work, and not sleeping until I do. Be it a camera, computer or new piece of software, technology has a way of making my brain happy.

Even still, as I write this, I’m carrying around a nearly four-year-old iPhone. I guess…technology for technology’s sake is not my passion. I’ll be the first to jump to the next new thing, but there’s one caveat: I should need it in my work, in my art.  For me, imaging technology is the tool I use to share with others the world as it appears to me. It’s my version of the painter’s brush; the musician’s instrument.

west virginia photography victoria weeks verglas media
essence of autumn

Sometimes the client or the project calls for capturing “reality.”  But we’re not really capturing “reality,” only an image of it. Using every tool of technology and technique, we attempt to convey a moment’s unique visual experience to someone not there. Was this not the initial promise and allure of photography…to be able to share an experience of the eye? It remains a worthy goal of the camera-person, and done well, it is magic.

I remember clearly the moment I learned that Picasso’s early paintings were wonderfully true-to-life. Only later did he choose to explore and focus on the abstraction of life. For a while, this left me puzzled about what defined an artist. At the time, I strove to re-create reality using pencils and paint…and almost missed out on what I now see as the artist’s greatest gift: expression.

I also vividly recall when I realized it was time to pick up a camera. Surely the knobs and glass and rules and film would help me wrestle this reality beast a little more forcefully. At one point, I was drawing a scene lit with a candle – a common  art school exercise – and struggling at recreating its “realness”.  Somehow, I thought a camera would make this easier. So I learned the tool. Easier? Not so much.

soul sisters

Almost two decades later, and low light situations still have a way of driving me crazy. But I’m not about to write a camera review touting ISO limits or lens speeds. Nor am I promoting a preference for ambient light vs. flash vs. continuous.  Though to make any photograph or video all of that tech stuff must happen, and to tell the truth, to me it’s fascinating. But even more satisfying than understanding the technology, is using the camera to tell a story, share an experience, offer a new perspective or sometimes just coerce a smile.

Ahhh, the smile. As the old saying goes, heating with wood warms you twice – first when you cut and stack it, and later when it burns. Something similar happens with photography, when it comes to smiling. When I work with people, I find there’s a smile on my face during the shoot, and often on the face of the subject. Then, later, in the editing process the happiness, success or passion in peoples’ eyes brings another smile. Later – and this is my hope – a smile will soften the day of the person who sees my work. That’s a lot of smiles.

Unfortunately not everything brings a smile. Documenting our world with photography and videography can reveal many truths: truths and realities that do not bring smiles. In many ways, capturing life’s realities on film, digital, still, or video may be photography’s noblest goal. Photography can educate, inform and inspire. It can also bring people to action, begetting change: Perhaps an even nobler goal.

Yet as a photographer, reviewing this year’s work, I can’t help but notice I was lucky enough to be around a lot of smiles, and things to smile about. For that, I’m thankful.


photos © 2014 Victoria Weeks/Verglas Media

12 Inspirational Views of Earth From Space | Earth Day 2014

The 44th Earth Day is here, so take just a few moments to consider these game-changing views of our planet. Why? Their significance begins in the visual statement created through science and technology and persists through cultural awareness and human action.

The first Earth Day in 1970 symbolized the beginning of the modern environmental movement.  It galvanized the growing awareness and recognition that our species’ survival on this planet requires the planet to be habitable, the air breathable, the water drinkable. Continue reading 12 Inspirational Views of Earth From Space | Earth Day 2014

Who Needs a Total Lunar Eclipse When You Have Daffodils?

It turns out I do. Maybe what I really need is a little expectation management, a skill which continues to elude me.

So, maybe the day did not offer the perfect lunar photographic opportunity I had hoped for, but it did present a beautiful alternative in its overcast hand.

Around here, yellow is the first truly vibrant color we see as the snows melt. A common wildflower, Coltsfoot, small and unobtrusive, suddenly pops up holding out hope in its tiny bloom.

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)

However, it is always overshadowed by the ornamental Daffodil of seemingly endless variety. Intentionally over-planted, they carry us through the first month of spring, giving us a reminder that the rest of the yard, let alone the forest, is about to burst.

As am I.  Could the clouds be clearing? Maybe, maybe not.  But so far it’s been a nice day behind the camera.


Wanderlust: Going West: The Inspiration

Growing up on the East Coast of North America, I’ve always found myself at home on the seashore. Upon visiting for the first time in a while, my preference is usually marked by a large intake of briny air; relief and reverence in one: Ah, the ocean.

I’ve seen many a sunrise from the Eastern Shore of the U.S., and each time it’s worthy of the alarm clock waking me, pushing me out the door, pre-caffeinated and barely aware. Cutting through the wind and cold or heat and humidity I can always find beauty and peace on the beach. There is also a very simple truth attached to these moments:  Wherever you are, the sun will rise in the East. And later, it will set in the West.

So, what else happens in the West?

Long ago, I had the chance to find out for myself. I hopped on a plane, and five and a half hours later, landed in California. The wonders of flight – I’d found another ocean! I get this, I thought, this is the West!

In the years since I’ve traveled to various western states: Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Wyoming, Montana, Texas…the usual suspects. Many of these trips were short visits, a few days or a week, for either work or play, or a little of both. Focused and intentional, yes, but always short-lived. Even longer trips to Arizona and Utah were always truncated by the need to move on to the next location, or simply to go back home.

Recently, I did something a little different. I covered this country in a two-axle vehicle, never leaving the ground. I didn’t even make it all the way across, but often felt as if I’d traveled through time, sometimes to another country, even to another planet. This is a striking phenomenon. When we step off an airplane, we expect to be somewhere else. Someplace different. It’s jarring. Very. But expected.

A road trip is different. As my favorite travel partner, my husband,  piloted the van I could put my feet on the dashboard, or camera out the window, or even take a cat-nap. In-between map reading and iPhone wrangling, the external scenery continually morphed in front of me. I experienced a gentle internal transformation, and with it, an even greater appreciation for this country and the vast spaces held between its borders.

As visitors we were presented with many a Louis and Clark monument, and once, overlooking the Missouri River, we stood paralyzed with awe as we tried to comprehend their journey. There were close encounters with sacred sites, accompanied by fierce wind and passing storms. We spent a week with the jutting peaks of the Tetons overtaking our view-shed, and the bold wildlife of Yellowstone National Park had a way of reorganizing our day. As the autumn progressed, long, clear nights revealed the Milky Way, and our awareness of the lunar cycle was re-awakened. We talked a lot about the Anasazi – where they traveled, how they slept, what they might have talked about on such a night.  During the day, we walked gingerly through their crumbling masterpieces. We had an un-nerving campsite outside of White Sands National Monument, reminded that rockets are used for other purposes besides propelling scientific instruments into space for the good of humankind. There were sobering moments looking out over the Trinity Site, followed by our own personal scene from Contact as we watched the Very Large Array in a slow motion dance. And always – always – we passed through a small town that seemed straight out of another decade, some aching and left behind while others were thriving and revitalized. We had destinations, yes, but we also had aimlessness. We had freedom.

This is what happens in the West.

Oh, and did I mention we had cameras?

This gallery serves as a sneak peak into a new short travel film that we’ll be releasing very soon. Wanderlust: Going West. Please, enjoy these stills and stay tuned. There are time-lapses, sunrises and even buffalo herds to follow, along with a fascinating overview of our locations.


Surfaces of Winter

Frozen water takes many shapes.  There’s more than just beauty and oddity here, there are secrets.  Each piece of snow and ice has an origin story, and as solid as each may seem, they are forever changing.

All photos © Verglas Media

Want more ice? Check out our time-lapse of this year’s Saranac Lake Ice Castle under construction!

Science On a Sphere

“So, what’s that like?”

“Well, it’s just like a six foot sphere floating in the room with all matter of data, animations and video projected onto the surface…”

Science on A Sphere displays the earth
The Earth displayed on Science On a Sphere.

“So,  how does it work? “

Continue reading Science On a Sphere

Blue Skies

There is nothing like a long, rainy summer to make one appreciate the clear blue skies of the coming autumn season.   After the drenching we’ve had, simply looking up at a cloudless sky has a turned out to be simple pleasure. The solar radiation warming the skin becomes so easily perceived when the clouds dissipate, and a smile can’t help but cross my face. All of the sudden, the trail seems to be holding me up instead of sucking me in. Squish, squish has turned to crunch, crunch. Continue reading Blue Skies