Park Authority

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

TTY 711

12055 Government Center Pkwy.
Fairfax, Virginia 22035

Sara Baldwin,
Acting Executive Director

Snapshots E-Newsletter October 2016


Fall 2016

Educate and Motivate with Watershed Clean-up Day Photos

Watershed Clean-up Day Photos

Watershed Clean-up Day Photos
Click on photos for full resolution versions.

Park photographs are usually prized for the serene feeling they convey, but some are important because of the message they send and their power to educate and motivate.

Each fall, Fairfax County parks sponsor watershed cleanup days that provide opportunities to capture some jarring photos. It’s amazing what has been pulled out of park streams and lakes. In addition to the thousands of pounds of bottles, cans, and bags that are routinely found, volunteers have pulled tires, bed springs and appliances.

This fall, consider motivating someone to action through your photography – or join in a cleanup yourself! International Coastal Cleanup activities will be taking place from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 15 at:

Park Pix Tips
Change Your Way of Thinking to Create Truly Original Photographs

Tuan Pham, Park Authority photo instructorBy Tuan Pham, Park Authority photo instructor

Beyond the edge of preconception and prejudice lies quietly another world—the world of ordinary beauty. This is true in photography as in life.

I joined a tour of ten national parks in 2012 with high hopes to take home some “hero” landscapes to brag about. The conditions on the ground, however, did not pan out and I dreaded the thought of owning a collection of clichés instead.

Out of deep frustration, a thought arose, “If you can’t have what everybody wants, how about what nobody wants?” I put the idea to test and my mood changed. I recovered the initial excitement and optimism.

For the rest of the 14-day tour, I deliberately went against the flow. The group headed in one direction, I went somewhere else. At the end of the day, their images looked all alike; mine were one-of-a-kind.

When I returned home, I shared my insights and photographs with my camera club and, as a result, received invitations to speak at a dozen more. My fellow photographers confirmed for me the words of 17th century Spanish Jesuit writer and philosopher Baltasar Gracián y Morales: “When the eyes see something they have never seen before, the heart feels as it has never felt.”
Other things I learned from the journey include:

  • Everything has beauty though it might not be apparent at first.
  • Bottom-up attention gives rise to fresher perspectives.
  • There is another world lying quietly beyond the edge of preconception and prejudice waiting to be discovered -- the world of ordinary beauty. This is true in photography as in life.

You need not travel long distances, climb mountains, or wake up before sunrise to get there. You only need to momentarily set aside the thinking mind and habitual tendencies to make room for clarity to emerge.

Green Spring Gardens flowers in vase by Tuan Pham Green Spring Gardens wood bird by Tuan Pham
Green Spring Gardens Gazebo by Tuan Pham Green Spring Gardens Flower Pots by Tuan Pham
Ducks on the pond at Huntley Meadows by Tuan Pham Green Spring Gardens by Tuan Pham
Haunted Forms at Green Spring Gardens by Tuan Pham Boat and reflection at Great Falls

Click on photos for full resolution versions. Photo credit: Tuan Pham.

Tuan Pham teaches Photography as Zen Art and mindfulness meditation in Virginia. He can be reached at

Costume Players and Photographers Gather for a Day in the Park

Costume players and local amateur photographers gathered at Lake Accotink on Sunday, September 25, 2016, for a four-hour celebration of photographic arts.

With a costume theme of Victorian/Steampunk, DC Cosplay Photo Shoots chose Lake Accotink for their event because they felt the park’s antique carousel and beach area would provide beautiful backdrops for photos of their costumed subjects. Dozens of photo hobbyists and costumed players signed up in advance for the event.

Here’s a glimpse of some of the fun ...

Cosplay at Lake Accotink Carousel Photo credit Alicyn Drew Cosplay at Lake Accotink Carousel Photo credit Alicyn Drew

Click on photos for full resolution versions. Photo credit: Alicyn Drew.

Capture the Colors of Fall in a Park Near You

You don’t need to book a trip to New England to enjoy the colors of fall. There are plenty of photo opportunities in your local parks.

Park Authority photographer Don Sweeney says one of the best times to capture the vivid autumn colors in your camera is “right after it rains and the sun starts to come out.” One of his favorite spots to shoot the changing leaves is Burke Lake Park.
Here are some examples of what you might find in a county park this autumn ...

Fall Colors by Don Sweeney Fall Colors by Don Sweeney
Fall Colors by Don Sweeney Fall Colors by Don Sweeney
Fall Colors by Don Sweeney Fall Colors by Don Sweeney

Click on photos for full resolution versions. Photo credit: Don Sweeney.

Go Where the Pros Go to Get Professional Shots

If you want to get professional-looking photos, go where the pros go – Fairfax County parks. More than 400 professional photographers have purchased permits to shoot photos in our parks. That’s about one photographer for each of the county’s 400+ parks!

The pros know that the Park Authority’s properties provide stunning subject matter and beautiful backdrops for their portrait photography. So, grab your camera and head to a park.

Professional photographers who hold the $25 permits can easily renew those permits online. Each permit is good for one year. Check the permit for the expiration date. Find details (and past issues of Snapshots) at Commercial Photography in the Parks.

Share your Park Photos on our Instagram Site

InstagramThe notion that a picture is worth a thousand words dates back to newspapers of the early 1900s, but the idea is even more relevant today in the world of eye-grabbing social media posts. The Park Authority is now showcasing the best of the nature, history and fun that can be found in county parks on its own Instagram site. Photos tell the story on Instagram, and we need your help to make our site shine. Please submit your best park photos via email to: We can provide credit within the Instagram post. We also can post photos with or without an Instagram filter. Your choice. And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram to see our story unfold.

Explore Photography in Fairfax County Parks through SNAPSHOTS

Welcome to the Fall edition of SNAPSHOTS. SNAPSHOTS is dedicated to photography in Fairfax County Parks and aims to provide a forum for sharing information pertaining to photography in our parks as well as a venue for photographers to express their concerns and inspiration through photos and tips, stories, and questions.

The Park Authority considers the many photographers, both professionals and amateurs to be ambassadors for our park system. You speak through your images and provide new perspectives on our properties and the people who recreate in them.

It would be our pleasure to publish your photos in this e-publication, our website, social media, and Flickr. Perhaps you know of a great spot for photographs, have a technique to share or have a question or concern? Maybe you took at photo worthy of public viewing. Send it in. If there is an interest, we would love to sponsor photographic displays and perhaps contests. Let us know. You can reach us at or call the Public Information Office at 703-324-8662.

Warmest regards,
Judy Pedersen
Public Information Officer

SNAPSHOTS Reflections

emailWe would love to hear from you! Comments or suggestions for SNAPSHOTS E-News are welcome. We encourage you to contribute an article and share your photographs to be included in a future SNAPSHOTS E-News.

Email comments, articles and photographs to


Share SNAPSHOTS E-News with others by forwarding this email. Follow the subscription link and select Photography from the interest categories.

Fairfax County Park Authority


Editor: Judy Pedersen, Public Information Officer

Writers and Contributors: Carol Ochs, Tuan Pham

Photographers: Don Sweeney, Tuan Pham, Alicyn Drew



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