the haunting of Eastern State Penitentiary

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Cellblock 7 at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Cell block 7

Cellblock 7 at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

A stairwell in Cell block 7

A stairwell in cellblock 7 at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

A cell in Cell block 4.

An old cell in cellblock 4 at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Al Capone's cell in Cell block 8

Al Capone’s luxurious cell in cellblock 8 at Eastern State Penitentiary.

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Cellblock 8 at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The original door to the synagogue in Cell block 7

The original synagogue door in cellblock 7 at Eastern State Penitentiary.

The alley between Cell block 11 and 14.

The alley between cellblocks 11 and 14 at Eastern State Penitentiary.

A window in the intake office.

An intake office window at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The exterior walls and battlements of the penitentiary.

The exterior walls and battlements of Eastern State Penitentiary.

Several months ago, Patty and I visited the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The prison, which was designed by British architect John Haviland, opened in 1829. Originally, Haviland planned for 256 cells but by the time the prison closed in 1971, there were 980 cells.

Eastern State Penitentiary is considered to be one of the most haunted places in America according to several sources. It has been featured on the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and Most Haunted Live, Syfy’s Ghost Hunters and MTV’s Fear. Several visitors, staff, former guards and inmates, all tell the same stories of hearing voices, footsteps, whispers and cries, as well as seeing shadowy figures and ghostly faces in the halls during the prison’s 142-year history.

One of the most famous ghost stories featured on the prison’s audio tour is about Gary Johnson, a locksmith who worked at Eastern State in the 1990’s. Johnson claims he was repairing a broken lock in cellblock 4 when he encountered a “negative, horrible energy” that pushed past him.

Although Eastern State had a death row, no executions ever occurred at the prison. However, life within its stone walls was difficult and many prisoners died from suicide, mental illness, disease, murder and torture. Some people believe that many of these prisoners still haunt the cellblocks.

Approximately 75,000 men and women did time at Eastern State including gangster, Al Capone. He was arrested outside of Philadelphia for carrying a concealed, unlicensed gun. Capone was sentenced to a year at Eastern State and served eight months in 1929. He lived in a luxurious cell with furniture and a radio. He also had his tonsils removed in the prison’s hospital the same year.

Several movies and music videos have been filmed at Eastern State Penitentiary including: 12 Monkeys starring Bruce Willis, Madeline Stowe and Brad Pitt; Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen starring Shia Labeouf, Megan Fox and Josh Duhamel; and Tina Turner’s “One of the Living”.

Eastern State Penitentiary was named a national historic landmark in 1965 and the Pennsylvania Prison Society opened it for tours in 1994. More than 200,000 people visit the prison every year.

Patty and I enjoyed our tour at Eastern State. We spent hours exploring the cellblocks, the old bocce courts and baseball diamond. We also peeked in the original synagogue and The Hole, or solitary confinement area, and we never experienced any paranormal activity at the prison. Instead, we were fascinated with the aesthetic beauty of its decaying, gothic architecture.

-scott weaver

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a journey to Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

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August 9, 2014: Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest residential street in the United States.

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August 10, 2014: A barber’s chair in Eastern State Penitentiary.

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August 10, 2014: The City Hall clock tower in downtown Philadelphia.

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August 10, 2014: A statue of Rocky Balboa at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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August 11, 2014: A National Park Service Ranger guards the Liberty Bell.

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August 11, 2014: A statue of George Washington at Independence Hall.

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August 11, 2014: A lunch counter in Reading Terminal Market.

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August 11, 2014: A sculpture decorates a brownstone in downtown Philadelphia.

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August 12, 2014: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Virginia.

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August 12, 2014: Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

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August 13, 2014: Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington D.C.

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August 13, 2014: A poorly written headline in the Newseum’s men’s room.

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August 13, 2014: Marine One flies past the Washington Monument.

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August 13, 2014: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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August 14, 2014: The front gate of the White House.

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August 14, 2014: The south facade of the White House.

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August 14, 2014: The Space Shuttle Discovery in the Smithsonian.

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August 14, 2014: The Lincoln Memorial at dusk.

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August 14, 2014: The moon rises behind the Washington Monument.

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August 15, 2014: A cannon at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Recently, Patty and I took a vacation to Philadelphia and Washington D.C. We spent four days in the City of Brotherly Love visiting Patty’s best friend and four days in our Nation’s Capital.

While in Philly, we walked down Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest inhabited residential street in the United States dating to 1702. We toured the haunted halls of Eastern State Penitentiary, one of America’s first prisons, that was erected in 1829. We ran the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art like Sylvester Stallone in his 1976 film, Rocky, and then posed for photos next to the fighter’s statue.

We saw the Liberty Bell and stood in the footsteps of George Washington and Ben Franklin at Independence Hall where they adopted the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. We rented a car and drove through Lancaster County, stopping at the Eastland Alpacas farm in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania before arriving in Washington D.C. We honored the fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery and watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We visited the Newseum and studied the history of journalism. We also went to the White House, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

One of our biggest thrills was gliding around the National Mall on Segways. We stopped at all the landmarks including the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, the National World War II Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans and the Korean War Veterans Memorials.

We drove to Gettysburg National Military Park on our way back to Philly and stood on the Civil War battlefield where more than 7,000 Union and Confederate soldiers lost their lives. We ate amazing meals at Wedge + Fig, Reading Terminal Market, Village Whiskey, Jones, Miles Table, Bube’s Brewery, Capital City Brewing Company, Dobbin House Tavern, and The City Tavern.

I challenged myself to make unique images, such as composing shots in a square format or focusing on specific details, so my work might look different from the other tourists’ photos.

-scott weaver

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Blake and Inge get married

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Inge Jorgensen chooses her colors from a makeup palette.

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Inge Jorgensen greets her former college roommate, Claudia Durkin.

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Inge Jorgensen’s bridal dress hangs in her hotel bedroom.

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Inge Jorgensen shows off her K-State garter to Claudia Durkin.

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Inge Jorgensen’s sister, Heidi, and mother, Barbara, help Inge into her dress.

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Inge Jorgensen talks to a friend just minutes before her wedding ceremony.

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Inge Jorgensen kisses her father, Dr. Jens Jorgensen, before the wedding.

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Inge Jorgensen stands in the narthex of St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church.

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Inge Jorgensen flashes a smile to her fiance, Blake Seiler.

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Blake and Inge Seiler travel to their wedding reception on a party bus.

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Blake and Inge Seiler pose for a photo before their reception.

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Inge and Blake Seiler sing and dance before their reception.

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Blake and Inge Seiler arrive at The Hotel at Old Town in Wichita, Kansas.

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K-State’s head football coach Bill Snyder greets Blake and Inge Seiler.

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Inge and Blake Seiler are toasted by family and friends.

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Inge Seiler sits on groomsman Taylor Braet as Blake removes her garter.

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Blake and Inge Seiler share their first dance as a married couple.

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Wedding guests enjoy themselves on the dance floor.

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Groomsman Steve Cline breakdances during the wedding reception.

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Blake and Inge Seiler return to their room after their reception.

My friends, Blake Seiler and Inge Jorgensen, asked me to shoot their wedding in Wichita, Kansas on June 21, 2014. I was honored that they trusted me to document such a joyful day in their lives.

-scott weaver

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a journey to Maui

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August 5, 2013: The sun rises on Moloka’i as seen from Lahaina, Maui.

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August 5, 2013: The Iao Needle and Valley in Wailuku, Maui.

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August 5, 2013: A hula dancer at Whalers Village in Lahaina, Maui.

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August 6, 2013: The Pacific Ocean near Kahekili Beach in Lahaina, Maui.

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August 6, 2013: Hipuapua Falls on Moloka’i.

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August 6, 2013: Moaula Falls on Moloka’i.

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August 6, 2013: The Sea Cliffs on Moloka’i.

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August 6, 2013: Halawa Valley on Moloka’i.

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August 6, 2013: A bodyboarder at Ka’anapali Beach in Lahaina, Maui.

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August 7, 2013: The USS Missouri battleship at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

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August 7, 2013: Japanese bullet holes at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

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August 7, 2013: A green sea turtle at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Oahu.

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August 8, 2013: A bamboo forest in the Ke’anae Arboretum near Hana, Maui.

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August 8, 2013: A rainbow eucalyptus tree near Hana, Maui.

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August 8, 2013: Cats lie on the stairs of a farmhouse near Hana, Maui.

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August 8, 2013: The Upper Hanawi Falls near Hana, Maui.

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August 8, 2013: Waianapanapa Wayside Park near Hana, Maui.

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August 8, 2013: Waianapanapa Wayside Park near Hana, Maui.

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August 8, 2013: The Wailua Falls near Haleakala National Park in Maui.

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August 8, 2013: The St. Joseph’s Catholic Church near Kaupo, Maui.

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August 9, 2013: The sun rises over Haleakala National Park in Maui.

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August 9, 2013: The Sliding Sands Trail at Haleakala National Park in Maui.

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August 9, 2013: A fence constructed of old windsurfing boards near Paia, Maui.

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August 10, 2013: An artisan carves a sea turtle in Lahaina, Maui.

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August 5, 2013: A self-portrait at the Kula Botanical Gardens in Kula, Maui.

Recently, Patty and I were blessed to visit Maui, Hawaii, a dream we had shared for several years. We spent six days in Lahaina on the Valley Isle and one day in Honolulu, Oahu. We will remember everything about Maui: floral-scented air, blue waters, breathtaking beauty, and friendly people.

While in Hawaii, we tanned ourselves on Ka’anapali Beach and at the Aston Mahana hotel pool. We walked through the Iao Valley, the Kula Botanical Gardens, and the Ke’anae Arboretum. We flew over Maui and Moloka’i in an open-door helicopter and drove the scenic Hana Highway in a convertible. We honored the fallen heroes at Pearl Harbor as we toured the memorials of the USS Arizona, USS Missouri, USS Bowfin and the Pacific Aviation Museum. We watched the sun rise over Haleakala National Park at 10,023 feet and then hiked five miles in and out of its dormant volcano crater. We explored Whalers Village, Lahaina Town, and the Maui Ocean Center. We ate amazing meals at the Flatbread Company, the Kula Sandalwoods, the Hula Grill, the Cool Cat Cafe, Koa Pancake House, Big Kahuna’s Pizza, Leilani’s on the Beach, and Sansei Seafood and Sushi.

We hope to return to Hawaii many times to experience her other seven islands. A hui hou kākou.

-scott weaver

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Scott D. Weaver Photography LLC – a video portrait

My brother, Craig, and I are both photographers. I own and operate a commercial photography studio in Kansas City, Missouri and Craig is a video production specialist for TEEX (Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service) in College Station, Texas. Previously, he was the chief photojournalist at KBTX-TV in Bryan, Texas as well as a video producer for the city of Bryan.

Two years ago, I had the idea to produce a short promotional video for my photography business. I pitched the idea to Craig and he agreed to help me. The only obstacle was syncing our schedules so we could be in the same place at the same time. Everything came together on March 8-11, 2013 when I traveled to Dallas, Texas to cover the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship.

Craig came to the American Airlines Center as my assistant. If he wasn’t helping me photograph any of the 11 games in four days, he was shooting video of me as I worked courtside.

After we left Dallas, I put Craig in charge of editing the video. I didn’t ask him any details about the project until I saw the final cut. I wanted to see myself the same way that he had seen me.

I was thrilled with the finished clip. The response from viewers has been overwhelmingly positive. I’m blessed to have a brother who cares about his own vision as much as he does mine.

-scott weaver

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a journey to Colorado

Rock striations near Manitou Springs, Colorado on July 2, 2011.

The summit of Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs, Colorado on July 3, 2011.

Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado on July 4, 2011.

Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado on July 5, 2011.

A bison skull at Royal Gorge Park in Canon City, Colorado on July 6, 2011.

A butterfly at Royal Gorge Park in Canon City, Colorado on July 6, 2011.

White water rafting on the Arkansas river in Canon City, Colorado on July 6, 2011.

Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado on July 7, 2011

A wolf near Divide, Colorado on July 7, 2011.

Seven Falls in Colorado Springs, Colorado on July 7, 2011.

Recently, I traveled to Colorado for my wife’s family reunion and a much-needed vacation. Usually, my only time spent in Colorado is when I travel to Boulder for the K-State football game against Colorado. I fly in with the team, bus to the stadium, shoot the game, bus back to the airport, and immediately fly home so I never get to see the beauty around the state.

At the reunion, we spent the first three days playing games and laughing with the extended family. We used the remaining four days to explore some of the sights around Colorado Springs including: the Anasazi cliff dwellings, Pikes Peak, the North Pole at Santa’s Workshop, white water rafting down the Arkansas River, Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, the Cave of the Winds, horseback riding through Garden of the Gods, the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, and Seven Falls.

My wife and I are already considering another week of vacation in Colorado again next year.

-scott weaver

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helping hands

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My mom is self conscious about her hands. They have been misshapen by osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that involves pain, tenderness, stiffness and inflammation. She has tried anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids and cortisone injections but the disease continues to ravage her fingers. Sometimes she loses her grip. Sometimes she is unable to lift things or hold things. Although her hands are weak, I will always know strength in them.

She graduated from nursing school with those hands. Worked as a registered nurse in a hospital trauma unit with those hands. Performed CPR with those hands. Saved lives with those hands. She clapped those hands at my swim lessons, my judo tournaments, my art shows, my school plays, my violin recitals, my soccer games and my baseball games. She played golf, went deep sea fishing and traveled the world with those hands. She is an amazing cook, an exceptional housecleaner, a skilled seamstress and a loving caregiver with those hands. She raised two sons, buried two husbands and read the Bible with those hands. Anytime I stumbled in life, she reached down and picked me up with those hands.

My mom thinks her hands are ugly. All I see is their beauty.

-scott weaver

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