When Thomas Jefferson conceived the University of Virginia in the early 1800s, he assumed that the school would be used exclusively as an Academical Village, not a photographic backdrop. Nevertheless, Matt and I feel that we’re honoring Mr. Jefferson’s vision by shooting young scholars and their families around the Rotunda.
Yes, the Grounds are pretty to photograph, but we like to think that our young subjects are positively affected by eating birthday cake off the same lawn where brilliant students have recited poetry, solved equations, and brainstormed public policy.
Most of the families that we shoot at UVA have legitimate connections to the university, but I think looking good in front of pillars is license enough to pose there.
Overworked and sleep-deprived students seem to like seeing joyful kids on their turf.
And a professor would have to be really old and crusty to want to keep the incredible Pratt Gingko tree all to himself.
When shooting on the Lawn, we try to be respectful of everyone’s studies. Only occasionally do we ring bells loudly, leave blue icing on the grass, and paste Santa stickers on fallen leaves. But there’s so little time to let kids be kids before they have to hit the books.