"Pregnant and Proud" -- Twenty years later

Shannon Huff was 16 when she became pregnant with her first child. Now she's a mother of four.

"What I've done over the past 20 years was rough," Shannon said. "I'm nowhere near where I want to be but I know where I've been and I know where I'm going." She said she wants to get out of the "hood" and move to the country for a more relaxed life.

Shannon Huff, 37, of Roanoke, Va., kisses her grandson, Kay'Mari Barber, who was born on March 31. Huff was 16 when she became pregnant with her first child, Sharontay (Kay'Mari's mom).

Shannon Huff, 37, of Roanoke, Va., kisses her grandson, Kay'Mari Barber, who was born on March 31. Huff was 16 when she became pregnant with her first child, Sharontay (Kay'Mari's mom).

Shannon, has been store manager at Replay Games and DVD in Roanoke for three years. She said her first management job was at McDonald's about 10 years ago and she's since worked her way up.

Shannon, has been store manager at Replay Games and DVD in Roanoke for three years. She said her first management job was at McDonald's about 10 years ago and she's since worked her way up.

Andre Ingram, 4, zooms through the kitchen with a toy one morning while his mother, Shannon, gets him ready to go to daycare. Shannon is now a mother of four and a store manager at Replay Games and DVD in Roanoke. "I make it paycheck to paycheck, but I got a lot of other things in my life -- my children," she said.

Andre Ingram, 4, zooms through the kitchen with a toy one morning while his mother, Shannon, gets him ready to go to daycare. Shannon is now a mother of four and a store manager at Replay Games and DVD in Roanoke. "I make it paycheck to paycheck, but I got a lot of other things in my life -- my children," she said.

Shannon keeps a copy of the bible she read when she was incarcerated in 1998 for the possession of drugs. She said she highlighted and underlined passages she felt were meaningful. "It's powerful," Shannon said. "I refuse to let the devil win. I pray for everyone and everything." Huff said she wrote down these words to keep with her from a Buddhist Wisdom -- "If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve your problem, then what is the use of worrying?"

Shannon keeps a copy of the bible she read when she was incarcerated in 1998 for the possession of drugs. She said she highlighted and underlined passages she felt were meaningful. "It's powerful," Shannon said. "I refuse to let the devil win. I pray for everyone and everything." Huff said she wrote down these words to keep with her from a Buddhist Wisdom -- "If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve your problem, then what is the use of worrying?"

Shannon high-fives her son Andre before dropping him off at the Northwest Child Development Center for daycare. "I can truly tell you life is totally what you make (of) it -- the good and the bad," Shannon said.

Shannon high-fives her son Andre before dropping him off at the Northwest Child Development Center for daycare. "I can truly tell you life is totally what you make (of) it -- the good and the bad," Shannon said.

Shannon quickly folds a pile of laundry while waiting for her youngest son, Andre, to get out of bed and ready to go to daycare. Shannon said she lived the "street life" for 25 years, and started working her way up from a job at McDonald's. "You don't have to die in the streets," she said.

Shannon quickly folds a pile of laundry while waiting for her youngest son, Andre, to get out of bed and ready to go to daycare. Shannon said she lived the "street life" for 25 years, and started working her way up from a job at McDonald's. "You don't have to die in the streets," she said.

Sharontay Huff, 20, of Roanoke, kisses her newborn son Kay'Mari Barber, after getting him dressed for church at her mother's house.

Sharontay Huff, 20, of Roanoke, kisses her newborn son Kay'Mari Barber, after getting him dressed for church at her mother's house.

Cursean Austin (from left) walks his nephew Kay'Mari Barber to the car while his sister (Kay'Mari's mom) Sharontay Huff, 20, and their mom, Shannon, leave Shannon's Roanoke home on their way to Refuge Temple Church-Our Lord for Sunday church. Shannon said she lived 25 years of her life living the "street life," and faith helped her grow into the person she is now. "If I ain't known nothing about God, I wouldn't be here now," she said. "At the end of the day, I know I have my own personal relationship with God."

Cursean Austin (from left) walks his nephew Kay'Mari Barber to the car while his sister (Kay'Mari's mom) Sharontay Huff, 20, and their mom, Shannon, leave Shannon's Roanoke home on their way to Refuge Temple Church-Our Lord for Sunday church. Shannon said she lived 25 years of her life living the "street life," and faith helped her grow into the person she is now. "If I ain't known nothing about God, I wouldn't be here now," she said. "At the end of the day, I know I have my own personal relationship with God."

Shannon Huff became pregnant at 16 and is now a mother of four, with the recent addition of one grandson. Cursean Austin (from left), 16, Andre Ingram, 4, Sharontay Huff, 20, Kay'Mari Barber (who was three-weeks-old in this photo), and Calasia Austin, 11, make up Shannon's family. "I do think I'm blessed to be a single mother and have four (kids)," Huff said. 

Shannon Huff became pregnant at 16 and is now a mother of four, with the recent addition of one grandson. Cursean Austin (from left), 16, Andre Ingram, 4, Sharontay Huff, 20, Kay'Mari Barber (who was three-weeks-old in this photo), and Calasia Austin, 11, make up Shannon's family. "I do think I'm blessed to be a single mother and have four (kids)," Huff said. 

** A note: I didn't love this last photo, but during the final edit I felt it was necessary to complete the story.

Gun Culture in Southwest Virginia

I spent the last year working on a project about gun culture in Southwest Virginia.

I wanted to find a wide-range of gun owners who owned guns for different reasons.

In addition to taking portraits of the people and their gun(s), I collected a short audio interview of each person. I wanted to not only show the person, but let viewers hear everybody's opinions about guns and gun legislature.

I really enjoyed working on this project. And I was able to sit down with an online editor at the paper to come up with a design for the final web product, which was a lot of fun.

Some of my favorites are below.

Here's how the piece ran.










So, it's been a while...

I haven't been the best at updating my blog.  So here's to trying to get better at that.

Here are a bunch of photos that I've shot over the last several months.  (I finally figured out how to get the photos to appear larger.)  Comments are appreciated, as usual!




















Miss Virginia

I shot my first Miss Virginia pageant a few weeks ago, and it was quite an experience. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from that night.






Misc. Photos

I've been behind on posts...So I'm about to post a lot of stuff. Here's a post of some pictures from some random assignments from the past few weeks.



Moments and Layers

I'm trying to layer my moments more. I'm finding this to be pretty challenging...Especially when learning how to shoot with a new camera at the same time. I'm hoping I'll get the hang of it soon. Anyway, here are a few pictures from this week. (The more recent ones are at the top of this post.)





Week 1 of New Job

I am officially a college graduate now, and I started my job as a staff photographer at The Roanoke Times in Roanoke, Va. I love it here so much. I had a handful of assignments this week, but I think my better photos came from one of the soccer games I shot and a picnic that was held for med. school graduates. I've been shooting mostly video for the past five months, so hopefully I'll get back into the groove of shooting daily photos soon!







Coping With Leaving The PJs

I’ve been packing up my house all morning. I’m graduating on Saturday and moving to Virginia on Sunday. And I just had a major breakdown.


I’ve been waiting for it to hit me.


These last four years have been the best years of my life.


I’m sure I’ve complained pretty much non-stop about the long hours and the little sleep and the cold weather and the smoking and drinking habits of my fellow PJs, but much to my disbelief, I think I secretly loved it all.


I’m extremely excited to start the new chapter of my life and my new job, and I can’t wait to get back to Virginia, but at the same time, I don’t want to leave. I love my Western PJs. They get on my nerves all the time, but I really love them all so much, and would do anything for any of them.


I am so thankful to have had them in my life, and I will give anything to be able to keep them in my life forever.


I wish I’d gotten closer to some of them and hung out more, stayed up later and partied harder, but then I guess I wouldn’t be where I am now.


I’m so thankful for everything that’s happened over the last four years, and for being able to come to Western. I love Western PJ.


I’m 100 percent sure that I’m going to lose it at the annual PJ picnic tomorrow night. I’m going to have to bring a box of tissues. I just can’t believe I’m going to have to say goodbye to everyone.


I’ve always said I hate Kentucky, but the truth is, whether I want to admit it or not, Kentucky has become my home.


I never thought I’d want to come back to Kentucky after I graduate, but I do hope that I can come back someday and visit the people and places that I’ve grown to love.


Here are some (yes, a lot, I know) pictures from some of my favorite memories from the last four years with my best PJ friends, and one from a story subject.