This morning, Virginia Twinam Smith passed away peacefully in her apartment at the age of 91. Virginia was a “picture-maker and story-teller” (Virginia’s words) who was a long-time member and exhibiting photographer with Women In Focus and the Atlanta Photography Group (APG). She also generously sponsored APG’s inaugural Print Purchase Award Program. Since Virginia was not a fan of formalities I thought I would get the formalities out of the way so I can focus on the person she was. I met Virginia in 2011 at a Woman In Focus holiday dinner. The photographers at the dinner exchanged prints and I was fortunate to receive one of Virginia’s botanical composites. That evening I volunteered to drive Virginia home since I discovered she lived close to me in Decatur. She talked non-stop on the drive home and I remember being impressed with her zest for life and her passion for nature. She was also full of stories about her escapades photographing on the streets of Atlanta with her Hasselblad and provided uncensored opinions on just about everything. Virginia and I became fast friends. She was a champion of my work and frequently commented on the photos I posted on my blog. She embraced my daughter Christine, and never failed to forget her birthday. She presented the beautiful botanical composite as shown above to Christine on her birthday two years ago. She was my confidant and dear friend. I was fortunate enough to photograph Virginia on January 28, 2014. That was the day of the big snow storm in Atlanta that immobilized the city. The above portrait of Virginia was taken that morning. I remember that as I was packing up my camera we both glanced out the window and became giddy at the sight of actual snowflakes falling profusely from the sky. Since that time, I have watched Virginia’s body deteriorate as she has battled fall after fall. Despite her physical challenges her mind remained sharp and her sense of humor unflappable. On a recent visit to see Virginia, she was looking out her third-story window watching the strong wind blow the oak tree branches to and fro and she commented on that beauty. Her eyes were twinkling and she was smiling but her body was a wisp of what it had been. When Deborah, Virginia’s daughter, notified me that Virginia was gone I was not surprised but still greatly saddened. Despite my sadness, I know that Virginia would have wanted us to celebrate her long full life, one she lived on her terms until the very end. Cheers Virginia! My condolences to Deborah and the family.
To read my 2014 interview with Virginia proceed to the following link: http://atlantaphotographygroup.org/gallery/biographies/vts-interview.shtml