Anyone who has visited my website or my Etsy shop will recognize her right away. Of all the countless images of angels in my portfolio, she is my singular favorite. She has graced my mantel for many years and has hung outside Mayor Nutter’s office in City Hall. This statue stands in a cemetery along a busy section of Route 1 in Alexandria, Virginia where the hum of the traffic and city chaos is almost palpable. Once inside the iron gates, however, the noises fade peacefully to the background.

My sole focus that afternoon was on the shadows falling over her face, how the light illuminated different features and expressions. The sculptor who created this angel was a genius, and I took care to capture the depth of detail he or she so lovingly articulated into the rock. I shot two rolls of film that day, both devoted entirely to this angel.

When my great aunt saw these photographs, she didn’t tease me about my obsession with cemetery angels as did the rest of my family. Instead, she told me that my great-grandmother’s grave had once been sheltered by the shadow of a lovely angel statue that was later destroyed by a bolt of lightening – when her family went to visit the grave, the stone had been decimated by the impact: nothing remained but tiny pebbles scattered for hundreds of yards. Perhaps it is her deep and unwavering Irish superstition, but she is certain this is why I am so driven to photograph angels. I, for one, am inclined to agree.