19 Iconic UVA Photos from 2019

December 16, 2019 By Sanjay Suchak, sanjay@virginia.edu Sanjay Suchak, sanjay@virginia.edu

In 2019, UVA Today’s photographers captured countless moments in the life of the University of Virginia, from the first hushed snowfall of the semester to the triumphant joy of Final Exercises and national championships or the pomp and circumstance of historic moments like UVA’s bicentennial.

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Here, University photographer Sanjay Suchak shares 19 of his favorite photos from 2019, closing out the decade with unforgettable images of a remarkable year on Grounds.

Check out the photos, with thoughts from Suchak, below.

men standing and talking to a group of people sitting at wooden desks
Resolutions, ceremonies and presentations are all part of the day-to-day for any photographer. Often, we try to find something interesting in the mundane. When state Del. David Toscano presented a resolution marking UVA’s bicentennial on the State House floor in January, framing the shot using carpeting and the other delegates’ shoes seemed more visually interesting.
UVA Chapel, stained glass windows lit up with the outside is covered in a fresh layer of snow
The window of the University Chapel really stood out against the blue light and snow at dusk, casting a warm glow out to the snow, welcoming anyone who might need a quiet respite from this early 2019 snow day. While much debate was made about having a chapel on Grounds when Thomas Jefferson omitted it from his plans, I think this respite is exactly the purpose it should serve here.
Water pooled and reflecting the brick buildings that line the water
Every time I share a photo like this, I’ll inevitably get an email asking why our beautiful Grounds are flooded. However, this particular shot is somewhat deceptive, using a small fountain and a camera at water level to reflect the scene in front of me at UVA’s Darden School of Business.
Guy jumping in the air in celebration of the basketball teams victory
What a year for the men’s basketball team. This was the moment after the final buzzer sounded, as Kyle Guy celebrated winning the NCAA championship in Minneapolis.
Construction worker handing up a poster of a black man dressed in a suite smoking a cigarette
History professor John Edwin Mason has been the guardian and interpreter of Rufus Holsinger’s work photographing the African American community in Charlottesville in the early part of the 20th century. As part of his project, he arranged to have portraits hung on the fence surrounding the site of the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, currently under construction at UVA. There was something about this Holsinger photo that just spoke to me as the two workers were hanging it up.
Graduate with right arm raised holding golden balloons
Every year I look forward to Final Exercises, three days of exhausting coverage and countless trips up and down the Lawn. I think this frame from 2019 captures the spirit and joy that many graduates feel.
Construction worker in U-hall with a water hose spraying the demolition
This past year, one of my favorite assignments was going into University Hall as they dismantled it. Several months and thousands of frames later, I had an amazing look into what it takes to bring down an arena. Here are two frames I like: the giant claw ripping down the stands and, a couple months later, the final moment of implosion in May.
Arial view of U-hall surrounded by smoke coming from all sides of the building
This shot was taken from above as U-Hall came down on May 25 at 10 a.m. UVA basketball legends Ralph Sampson and Dawn Staley, athletic director Carla Williams and UVA Board of Visitors member Robert Hardie pushed the demolition lever.
Black and white photo of an elderly gentleman left and an elder woman right
Another project I’ve been working on here is asking political visitors to UVA to sit for a portrait, similar to what Richard Avedon did with “The Family” in 1976. It’s been a real honor to meet all of these amazing politicians and have a few minutes to try capture their true selves. This photo of Karl Rove and Madeline Albright was taken when they were here for the Presidential Ideas Festival, hosted by UVA’s Miller Center in May to discuss the past, present and future of the U.S. presidency.
Man repairing a statue.  Statue has fire going around his head
Walking the Lawn one day, I spotted a gentleman re-soldering the harp on the Homer statue. We got to talking and he let me know that at the end of the process he’d be applying a hot wax finish to Homer with a blowtorch. That opportunity happened to come right at sunset, creating this dramatic frame.
left: Names engraved into the Memorial for enslaved laborers. Right: construction work breaking down rocks
In this image, a worker uses an angle grinder to do fine finishing on the end stone of the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers this fall. I liked the symmetry of this image, the permanence of the names on the left of the frame and the dust and activity on the right.
Arial view of Campbell hall lit up at night
Campbell Hall, home of the School of Architecture, is a fascinating building, but one that is extremely hard to photograph. Now that drones are a regular part of the job, I was able to gain a new perspective, just a bit higher than the previous rooftop view, and catch a beautiful fall sunset that finally does the building justice photographically.
President Jim Ryan carrying a marching band drum while making a face like he is in pain
Here, UVA President Jim Ryan reacts to the weight of the drum kit as he tries it on during a Cavalier Marching Band practice. He then surprised everyone there by being exceptionally good at drums. It was great to see him join the students in what they were doing and have some fun with it.
Two UVA players jump in the air and hit each others chest while in the endzone
Billy Kemp IV and a teammate celebrate a touchdown in the end zone at Scott Stadium. To me, this shot is emblematic of the UVA football program right now – success, teamwork and rewards. I’m happy for their progress over the past couple of years.
Tony Bennet standing with an elderly genteman
When it was announced Tony Bennett (the singer) would be coming to perform at the “Honor the Future” campaign kickoff in October, I thought that it would be fun to get a portrait of him with UVA’s own Tony Bennett (the men’s basketball coach). A few phone calls later, both of them agreed to humor me that night and the portrait was done.
Group of people in a cave looking at the cave ceiling with head lamps
One of the more unique aspects of my job is the visits to UVA’s College at Wise in Southwest Virginia. If you don’t know much about UVA-Wise, you are missing out. This past September, geology professor Bob VanGundy took me along with some students into a cave inside Natural Tunnel State Park. It was just the professor, four students and myself. It was an amazing experience, and one you can get only at UVA-Wise.
aisle of old books in UVA's stacks
As part of a photo essay on the renovation of Alderman Library, I paid a visit to Ivy Stacks, where many items in Alderman’s collection will be temporarily housed. It’s an amazing and visually impressive operation. Thousands of volumes, several stories high, all coded so that items can be found quickly. The scale of this operation cannot be accurately shown in photos.
Arial view of the Rotunda with a red, orange, blue, and yellow sunset
There’s a bit of luck and some science to predicting when a good sunset will happen. This photo is the intersection of both of those factors and remains one of my favorite pictures of Grounds – so far.