by Steve Shaluta and Jeanne Mozier
West Virginia Beauty. The Mountain State. To those familiar with West Virginia, those two phrases go hand in hand. West Virginian's know how beautiful their state is, and they know the special places that define that beauty for them, be it out their kitchen window or their favorite vacation spot. And they also love when that beauty is captured in photographs to share with loved ones, near and far.
Hence, West Virginia Beauty: Familiar and Rare, which once again teams award-winning photographer Steve Shaluta and writer/entrepreneur Jeanne Mozier. Together-as they did with their successful Wonders of West Virginia-they have produced another love letter to the state in the form of a coffee table book. This book showcases the state's beauty, including amazing geography, extraordinary wildlife, numerous historic sites, exciting recreational opportunities and more. Fans familiar with Shaluta's work won't be surprised to see a picture of a classic Mail Pouch barn or an exquisite West Virginia sunrise. But be prepared for some surprises, like the shot Steve took while lying in the snow, just at the moment that a fearless snowboarder flew over him.
Some of Shaluta's best photos depict unusual weather, including the one that captures a mysterious early morning fog in Canaan Valley that left all the treetops frozen. The result is a ghostly gray vision where you can't distinguish between earth, air and sky. The chilly sight of a frozen Blackwater Falls surrounded by snow drifts will make you scoot closer to the fire.
Steve's close-up of West Virginia fiddles is more than just an artistic photograph. To Mountaineers it says heritage and pride, dancing and holidays, family gatherings and babies asleep in our arms. Drink in the calm of the classically beautiful Cheat Lake at sundown; or the velvety cedar wax wing perched on a pink blossom; or the humble bumble bee grazing at a redbud.
Jeanne Mozier says her favorites from the book are the shots of West Virginia wildlife. Of course, those of you familiar with Jeanne will know that her preferences run to the unusual or odd. So of course her favorite wildlife photo, her No. 1 pick, is the strange but endearing bold jumping spider. Look in these pages and you will see this creature-with its eight eyes and phosphorent green pincers-glaring at you with such audacity you won't know whether to laugh out loud or head for the door. Happily, you learn that this tiny West Virginia native can fit on your pinky nail.
All in all, we believe that West Virginia Beauty depicts the very best the state has to offer, taken by one of the state's pre-eminent photographers. It would be hard to find a collection of photographs of West Virginia that could be a better calling card, or more readily cause Mountaineers to smile with pride. Enjoy!