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Arts & Culture

PHOTOS: Capturing People 'Just Being Themselves' Along NC's Outer Banks

A giant swing at a county fair.
Biff Jennings
The magic light of the Outer Banks is luminous just before sunset, sky rides against the deep blue backdrop. The Children and Youth Partnership sponsored the Soundside FunFair in Nags Head this year, which benefits programs helping local kids.

As Biff Jennings likes to explain, he spent the first third of his life in and around Ashland, Kentucky; the second third on the Outer Banks of North Carolina; and he’ll let you know about the next third—in about thirty years.

Now 60, Jennings runs a family business, Shooters at the Beach, with his wife, son and a handful of colleagues. They shoot family portraits, weddings and commercial photography on the Outer Banks. And as he puts it, "it ain't so bad."

Jennings remembers as a kid, visiting his grandparents in Florida and one particular trip when he was about five or six years old. The family stopped at a big aquarium near St. Augustine. He swiped his dad’s brownie camera, and waited for the perfect moment to snap a frame of the dolphins.

"When we got [the photos] back from the drug store, Dad was surprised at the one he didn't take, a silhouette of the dolphin against the Florida sun, with the ring lifted, but not yet pulled from its post," said Jennings of the moment that set his love for photography in motion. "That set things in motion."

#wuncphotos: Share your North Carolina photos with WUNC on Instagram

Now, Jennings says his favorite places to shoot are those where people are just being themselves. And he aims to share his appreciation of his subject, find the beauty with light, and have a love for the uniqueness in that "decisive moment," including these images from the Soundside FunFair in Nags Head.

Note: This is the first installment in an occasional series profiling North Carolina photographers.

A young girl on a carinval ride.
Credit Biff Jennings /
Imagination screams into the turn, G forces piling up as a young girl strains to retain control of her thundering machine.

carinval worker
Credit Biff Jennings /
Step right up, boys and girls, ladies and gents. The more that play, the more we pay, a winner every game!”

kids on a carnival ride.
Credit Biff Jennings /
In the twilight, the neon overtakes the day as the fantasy surpasses reality.

kids on a carnival ride
Credit Biff Jennings /
The eye says enough to feel the excitement.

carnival ride
Credit Biff Jennings /
Nothing like going through the spin cycle while wearing your clothes.

carinval roller coaster
Credit Biff Jennings /
The fingernail moon watches as the innocent are first hurdled toward the earth, pushed deep into their seats, and then suspended, hung in a topsy turvy world hanging above their heads, the stars beneath their feet before gravity tickles, then tosses them downward.

kids on a carnival ride
Credit Biff Jennings /
Sometimes it's the blur of emotion, the cascade of shock, thrill, fear, and relief that yields to a giddy wash of happiness.

carnival ride
Credit Biff Jennings /
Like a Lewis Carroll dream, the mad world spins, tumbles, and drops you rudely on the other side. And you want to go back.
carnival swings at night
Credit Biff Jennings /
The late night riders swirl through the sky as first the dark ocean, then the moonlit sound rotate beneath their unbound feet.


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