Check out a new book offering a pictorial view of Middleburg and the surrounding environs.
By Beth Rasin
Beth Collier and her husband Burt have been coming to Middleburg for almost 30 years. They honeymooned here; they enjoy the Upperville Horse Show, the Hunt Country Stable Tour and the Christmas Parade. And as they’ve explored the area over the years, Beth, an experienced equine photographer, has captured images she’s now compiled into a book, titled simply, “Middleburg, Virginia.”
The book and its companion calendar are available for sale only at Second Chapter Books on Middleburg’s West
“It’s a wonderful artistic outlet for me and a thank you for many years of happy travels,” says Beth.
Beth was a late convert to digital photography from print, not taking it up until 2011—but when she did, she quickly became a fan of the Shutterfly photo books. She made one of the historic Welbourne Bed & Breakfast, which has become Beth and Burt’s go-to spot for weekend trips to the area, and she gifted it to the farm’s owner, Nat Morrison.
“When the ladies in the bookstore [Second Chapter Books] saw the Welbourne book, they asked me if they could carry it,” says Beth, of Lusby, Maryland. “It’s not on Amazon or online anywhere, but a year ago they started selling it. I said I’d also do a Middleburg book for them, of all the scenic things in town.”
She chose to focus the book as a pictorial essay, with minimal description. “I wanted it to be timeless, not a lot of history or description,” she says, adding that plenty of other books fill that niche.
“Middleburg is just a real small town, and it’s unique,” says Beth. “There’s no Starbucks or McDonald’s. It’s all stores that are unique places, where you can find something that you can’t get on the internet. I think it’s a wonderful experience for someone to walk into a bookstore and find something that doesn’t exist in some warehouse.”
It took her more than a year to evaluate and re-evaluate her photos and arrange them in a way that worked together just as she wanted on each page.
And her favorite photo in the book?
“I got really lucky with a sunset picture at Welbourne,” says Beth, who has a degree in art history and French literature from the University of Maryland. “It’s also a horse retirement farm, and at sunrise or sunset, I try to get the gray or paint horse. But this chestnut was following me. He was on a hill, and I realized he had the perfect silhouette, and the sky was dramatic. Sometimes you get lucky!”
She hopes the book can be a souvenir for people visiting town as well as a keepsake for locals. “Hopefully it’s interesting enough whether you live here or have been here for a while,” she says.
She’s next considering a book of black-and-white photography, inspired in part by classes she’s taken with E. David Luria.
When she’s not enjoying Middleburg or working in her day job as archives manager for St. Mary’s County, Maryland, government, Beth, in her early 50s, enjoys globe-trotting to shoot all kinds of equestrian competitions, from the Badminton and Burghley Horse Trials in England to last year’s European Eventing Championships in Poland, and her photography regularly appears in The Equiery. She and Burt especially came to love Great Britain, and Beth returns there each year.
“I started doing books for the trips we’d done,” she said of her early forays into Shutterfly books.
She’s also competed in lower level dressage and eventing, and she and Burt have been active volunteers in the sport, even earning the Maryland Combined Training Association’s Volunteers of the Year award in 1998.
With all the time they spend in Middleburg, Burt jokes that they’ve been asked why they don’t move here. “Then where would we go on vacation?” he says with a laugh. ML