Author Archives: j0jgvm89bj


Relocating here some fifty years ago, there were not many businesses where to find necessities. The general store at North Beach Campground was an exception, and I became a frequent customer. Locally operated, the O’Neal family was warm, accommodating and we became great friends. 

A decade or so later, Justin was born to Joey and Virginia O’Neal. I watched the toddler grow in to a lovely boy, then to a man. Rodanthe was his “oyster”, where he worked and played. He developed a keen appreciation for his island heritage and was eager to pass it on.

Justin with son Owen at Chicamacomico in 2018.

I relish my interaction with him at Old Christmas celebrations where he was a caretaker to Old Buck, a role that has been passed down for generations.

Justin was perfectly suited for the task and took pride in it.

Justin recently passed away unexpectedly at the age of 39.

I’ll forever hold him, and the extended O’Neal clan in my heart.


Beatlemania came December of 1963 when I heard I Wanna Hold Your Hand on an AM radio station in Northern Virginia. On a snowy evening my dad was selling Christmas trees to help raise funds for our Little League as my brother and I sat in a ’58 Volkswagen beetle, radio blaring… waiting for him to close down for the night. I was 14 and unbeknownst to us, a new era in popular music was beginning. The Beatles were taking America by storm.

Paul McCartney used a Pentax to document events that would unfold as his band toured, playing for frantic fans. The film he shot was stored away and forgotten until recently.

The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia is featuring McCartney’s 1963-1964 archives for the first time ever in America. Opened December 5, the exhibit runs through April 7.

There are 250 prints on display throughout several rooms.

Living through this era, the photographs evoked fond memories from my teens.

Could Paul McCartney have become a great photojournalist? Probably, but I’m glad he chose music.

The spacious exhibit area leaves one in a print wonderland. Once you take in certain rooms, it’s easy returning to another.

I liked the mural-sized contact sheet showing Paul’s take on The Ed Sullivan Show.

My favorite was a small 2-frame section made directly from a 35mm paper contact sheet. The original negatives were lost. His intimate portrait of John Lennon blew me away.

Most of the exhibit was richly printed in black and white.

A number of images were made from color transparencies.

Also on display are documents, including hand-written lyrics of the song that started it all.

To learn more about this outstanding exhibit go to:

Paul McCartney Photographs 1963–64: Eyes of the Storm


White Witch

Last Summer I had a request to illustrate a book cover for local author, Dixie Browning. Using her pen name Bronwyn Williams, she was republishing her old novel, entitled White Witch. I had worked with her and Gee Gee at Buxton Village Books on several other cover projects. Most of those images required some photoshop tools combining multiple images or enhancements to convey a theme. 

 A requirement for this book was to have a live oak near the water with a bird, or birds in flight as a backdrop. I spent two days scouting for a location, that I discovered close to home. The spot was on the shore of Pamlico Sound in Salvo. 

While experimenting different compositions at a particular tree, I was getting ready to pack it up when I noticed a few soaring birds. Firing several quick shots I captured a lone laughing gull framed through an opening. It was a straight shot and a take!

‘Tis the Season

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are huge celebrations. On Hatteras Island it’s also when my craving for oysters kicks in. It seems the colder the water, the better they taste. I’ve enjoyed collecting them for years. There’s nothing like sharing them with folks. It’s not only culinary but also a social experience.

Last year a festival initiated as Shuck Hatteras was held December 17th. It was such a success that the 2nd annual took place this year on the 16th.

The heartbeat of the show is volunteers roasting oysters.

Cooking them over a bed of hot coals is a tradition.

They were delivered piping hot to awaiting shuckers.

A total of 60 bushels was harvested from “across the sound”.

Estimates had the crowd at a thousand.

Everyone seemed to have a great time.

Spent shell was collected, saved and recycled.

That evening, Shuck Hatteras featured several local bands, including the Carolina Sweaters.

Shuck Hatteras gets a big thumbs up for bringing us together while giving profits back to the community. Ya’ll come back!

Endangered Species

November of 1986, I covered the first introduction of red wolves to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. As I recall, two pair of wolves were flown in by a US Coast Guard helicopter to Dare County Airport. I was shooting as a freelancer for Newsweek while my friend and author, Jan DeBlieu was writing their story. There must have been 50 photographers and journalists present, something for which I was not accustomed. Nevertheless as Sue Behrns attached a radio-tracking collar, I made the most published photograph I have ever shot. It was reproduced in Newsweek, Weekly Reader and Newsweek Japan for millions to see. The wolves were kept in holding pens and officially released a few months later.