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Meet Your Neighbor: Leigh Weaver 'captured' by allure of photography at early age

March 30th, 2014 9:18 pm by Becky Campbell

Meet Your Neighbor: Leigh Weaver 'captured' by allure of photography at early age

Leigh Weaver has worked as owner and operator of Captured Photography in Johnson City since 2001. (Becky Campbell/Johnson City Press)

When Leigh Weaver was a little girl, she was one of those kids always on her daddy’s heels, or maybe he was on hers as he always had a camera in his hand recording family memories.

Long before the age of digital photography, computers and photo editing programs, Weaver grew to love the art as well.

“My daddy took some of the most awesome photos. That was before digital and Photoshop and Lightroom,” she said, referring to digital photography computer software. “He put them on slides. Dad would set up a screen and his slide projector and our family would gather around to reminisce through the slide show. Mom would make popcorn and snacks. It was a big deal.”

She still has the Brownie Hawkeye her father used in those days. At 14, Weaver got her very own camera — a Kodak Instamatic her boyfriend bought for her — and well, the rest is history, as they say.

“I’ve taken pictures since then,” she said. “All through high school with my buddies, all through college and especially when my niece was born. I would document all our special times together. I took pictures all through college of friends and happenings like talent shows we did in the dorms and intramural sports.”

It was unusual for Weaver to go anywhere without her camera close by so she could snap a shot at any moment. Before she went to East Tennessee State University to study education, Weaver dreamed of becoming a professional photographer. For years, that’s where the idea stayed — in a dream — as she pursued her degree in education.

“I always thought about it, but it never pushed through to make it happen,” she said.

So, Weaver became a teacher, ultimately spending most of her career as a fifth-grade teacher at Jonesborough Middle School. And she loved it. She had a career she loved – teaching – and she also got to participate in her passion - photography – as a hobby. Weaver, like her father, recorded family gatherings and other memorable events, including her students and other school happenings.

When her daughter, Kristen, began playing sports as a child, Weaver got a little more serious and began documenting that.

“I stood beside all those other photographers … I’d look at mine when I got it back and I’d look at theirs and I thought ‘I could do this,’” she said.

Still, Weaver couldn’t quite push herself to take that step.

It took encouragement from a friend living in Asheville, Lauren Annarino, to really give Weaver the push she needed to transform herself from a hobby photographer to a professional photographer and take that passion to the next level.

“She said ‘Leigh, what are you going to do when you retire. What do you love to do?’ And I said, ‘Take photos,’” Weaver said.

So in 2001, Weaver got a business license, came up with a company name – Captured Photography because Weaver “captures that one moment you can’t get back” – and she started booking events.

But not just any events. Captured became the official photographer for USSSA fast pitch softball, traveling to tournaments all across the state,. At tournaments, Weaver printed photos and sold them on site, sometimes covering 90 teams during the weekend. Captured booked league sports, the rodeo when it was in town and other events throughout the Tri-Cities. Captured also became the preferred vendor for David’s Bridal in Johnson City, shooting local as well as destination weddings.

Eventually, she decided that she loved being around kids more than brides and bulls, so she turned to sports team photography. Chances are that if you’ve had a child or grandchild play sports in the Tri-Cities in the past decade and there’s a sport photo of them on your wall, Weaver was behind the camera.

“The thing is (that) most people don’t even know my name. That isn’t important to me,” Weaver said. “Just capturing a memory in someone’s life, that in itself is enough. I get satisfaction being behind the lens — making the memory — not in the accolades that some photographers want,” she said.

Weaver credits Annarino as being the “backbone” of Captured Photography. She is the mouthpiece of the business and volunteers her time to help Weaver by booking league photos.

“We’re best friends,” Annarino said as her reason for helping out.

“Without Lauren I would not be doing this …. and I would regret not taking the leap and growing as a professional,” Weaver said.

Behind the camera, “my confidence comes out (and) that’s when I feel a constant connection to my dad. So, in a sense, the photography has come full circle. When I was a kid, he was always snapping pictures and now it’s me. I hope when he looks down, I have made him proud,” she said.

And for Weaver, that’s a big part of her photographic life.

“Keeping his legacy alive ….carrying it forward and making him proud,” she said, gives her the satisfaction of a lifetime.

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