Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 14, 2013

View from the top

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

- — For weeks, I had glanced up at the snow-covered trees on top of East River Mountain and said a prayer. I needed good weather for the Prerogative magazine summer photo shoot. I travel along Route 460 everyday, shadowed by those gentle mountains favored by motorists and tourists. The stretch of road is often the place where I think, pray and muse on life and work. Some of my best work ideas have happened in between Princeton and Bluefield. I have also had a couple honest and silent conversation with God. So it seemed natural to add an extra prayer request for good weather.


Spring temperatures finally arrived in the two Virginias this week, just in time for the shoot in downtown Bluefield, Va. I had imagined freezing, shivering models in bright dresses and prints. It wasn’t a pleasant image. But as a resident of the two Virginias, I realized Mother Nature doesn’t always know when winter ends and spring begins. The day before the shoot, I stood on top of the East River overlook, looking down on the two Virginias. I hadn’t been to the overlook in awhile but it had remained the same in my absence. A few more signatures on the wood perhaps? I smiled at a banner slung on the rail. A homemade sign asking for a date to the prom. The world looked small from my vantage point. The overlook wasn’t empty. Others, all in search of a spring view, stood at the railing and watched the clouds grow dark against the sky. I wondered how many prayers and thoughts had been sent up from the overlook? How many secrets had these mountains heard or saw over the years? A place known for beautiful photos — Mel Grubb’s famous aerial photo of fog rolling in over the mountain is a favorite — the overlook has been a part of special moments, dark headlines in the newspaper and more. Strange how a place so beautiful can be so mysterious with an appeal that spans multiple generations. A few rain drops fell from the sky; I immediately looked up at the clouds.


In the last six years, we have braved rain, snow, wind and ice during Prerogative photo shoots. But somedays, like this past Tuesday, we were blessed with a warm breeze, the sun and a blue sky. Downtown Bluefield, Va., almost sparkled in the first light of the morning. There wasn’t a rain cloud in sight. I didn’t know why I was worried or concerned about the weather. Less than a year ago, I stood in the pouring rain and held an umbrella over a model. And two years ago, I scouted out locations in the midst of snow drifts. In the middle of July,  I brought a cooler on a day when the temperature hovered close to 90 F. Overtime, I have learned to adapt and change with the weather. It is like playing a game of chance and learning to be content with any strange weather pattern.


I drove home on Tuesday with the windows down, but left the radio silent. It was time to drive my stretch of road, time to think about the day’s work. I let the wind lift my hair and clear my mind. I don’t know what it is about spring, the rebirth or the fresh start of a season, but it is easier to think when the air hums with warmth. One more fashion shoot finished, I thought. From Princeton to Pocahontas, Va., and now Bluefield, Va., Prerogative has traveled across the two Virginias. I glanced up to the overlook, tempted to make the drive up the mountain. But I kept my hands steady. Foot on the gas pedal, I said a prayer of gratitude for a smooth stress-free day. I automatically started to think about the next fashion shoot. (I always think ahead.) I looked up at the mountains one more time and smiled. Maybe it is time for Prerogative to make the drive up the hill and capture the moment. Then share it with the rest of the world.  

Jamie Parsell is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at or on Twitter @BDTParsell.