rainy day escape

It’s raining cats and dogs here with weather predictions for a wintry mix tomorrow.

We’re hunkered down inside the house working on taking down wallpaper in the kitchen and bathroom. We are long overdue for basic home improvements like paint and flooring. It’s been 21 years since we last painted our interior walls. Our refrigerator is 24 years old and the handle is held together by duct tape. The sofa cushions are flat and the recliner fabric is threadbare. We’ve put off this work mostly due to financial constraints.  College tuition is expensive and it was our top priority to help both of our sons with education expenses.

So here we are. Back where we started. Just the two of us. Working hard to make a good life.

Stopped for a short break from the wallpaper removal (which really must be the job they assign you in hell). I need to stretch my aching neck and shoulders. From the window in the dining room, overlooking the front porch, I can see the signs of spring. Despite the steady rainfall, there is a robin splashing in a puddle on the road, side-stepping foot to foot in a happy dance. The finches chirp in conversation at the bird feeder. The cardinals peck along the ground under the feeder searching for their lunch. The squirrel plays on the porch, scurrying between the bird houses, slithering along the rustic wooden table, trying to dry off. The scene is animated and I am mesmerized by the wonder of it all.

I pull myself away. It’s time to go back to work.




It was definitely easier to ask strangers to have their picture taken on St. Patrick's Day.

The Luck of the Irish was on my side. Stephanie is a performer and she was happy to pose for a portrait. She's currently appearing in The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Riverside Center for the Performing Arts.

 Stephanie | Princess Anne Street | Fredericksburg, Virginia | March 2018

Stephanie | Princess Anne Street | Fredericksburg, Virginia | March 2018




Even though I enjoy the challenge of the 100 Strangers Project, I’ve wrestled with the ethical considerations.

I act with integrity. I approach each person with a sincere smile. I ask permission to take the portraits for this project and I feel comfortable requesting small favors such as “how about you stand along this wall in the shade?”

I respect the rights of each person to decline to be photographed.


There is certainly an argument to be made that it would be wise to keep each person’s identity totally anonymous. And yet there is a component to this project that extends beyond the act of taking a picture. I introduce myself and extend my hand . . . and this small act of courtesy is amazingly intimate. For just a second, our hands touch.  I make eye contact. We share a smile, a laugh, or perhaps an awkward glance.  Without exception, at least so far, when I say, “Hi, I’m Donna. It’s nice to meet you,” the subject has responded in kind, sharing their first name.

I can’t begin to explain how honored I feel for these interactions. That someone would place such trust in me makes me want to be my best self. I care for these portraits with the utmost respect and reverence. They are a gift. I know this.

 Kylie | Strawberry Street | Richmond, Virginia | March 2018

Kylie | Strawberry Street | Richmond, Virginia | March 2018

To leave out the names might be safer, but it would certainly change the project. Making portraits, even of strangers, is an intimate act . . . and when anchored by genuine love, it’s incredibly affirming for both parties.

I feel a little more alive with each stranger I photograph.

I’ve done my best to educate myself by reading articles –

. . . on the ethical considerations of street photography.

The Street Photography Code of Ethics by Eric Kim.

. . . on commercial versus editorial photography.

Understanding the Differences Between Commercial & Editorial Photography from 500px blog.

Ultimately your life experiences are unique. Follow your own heart. Don’t compromise your ideals. Stay true to who you are.

Photograph in a way that feels ethical, respectful, and honest to you. Listen to your own conscience; do what feels right.
— Eric Kim

Happy St. Patrick's Day

This is Alan the raptor. He lives in the fan district of Richmond, Virginia. Alan gets dressed up in costumes and outfits for each season and holiday and happening.

There's just something about a dinosaur in the front yard of a neighborhood home, one you pass every day on your way to work or when you walk your dog. It makes me want to clap and cheer for the family inside who have so much love and goodness they have to share it with us all.

 Alan, the raptor | Fan District | Richmond, Virginia | March 2018

Alan, the raptor | Fan District | Richmond, Virginia | March 2018