From The The Lacey-Barnegat Times

Photographer Captures Slice Of Pine Barrens Beauty

By Sarah Webster

OCEAN COUNTY – For some in Jackson, the Pine Barrens might seem old hat. Just “the woods.” But in the eyes of photographer Ann-Marie Woods, the Pine Barrens surrounding suburban life in Ocean County is a place of beauty.

Woods, 52, of Pinelands village Warren Grove, is a painter/photographer who has spent the past 13 years chasing the effects of light on the natural form in the Pinelands. She is a Pinelands Preservation advocate and has volunteered to work with many organizations that aim to preserve the New Jersey Pine Barrens.

Some of Woods’ achievements include being chosen to be one of the art exhibitors in the first art exhibition offered as part of the 21st Annual Pinelands Short Course, sponsored by the New Jersey Pinelands Commission and Burlington County College’s Pinelands Institute for Natural and Environmental Studies.

The event, an all day series of seminars and field trips, has become one of the signature annual events in the Pinelands which provides professional credits to all participating New Jersey teachers.

Woods has also been a volunteer and member of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance since 1999. The Pinelands Preservation Alliance is the only private non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the resources of the New Jersey Pinelands, according to its Web site.

“In addition to the depth and breadth of her photography work in and around the NJ Pinelands, Ann-Marie Woods has been an enthusiastic and vital volunteer with the Pinelands Preservation Alliance for many years,” said Mike Hunninghake, director of education and communications at Pinelands Preservation Alliance. “Ann-Marie’s passion about the Pinelands is evident in many ways, from her rich and detailed photos of landscapes, insects and wildlife that are native to the Pines, to her vocal and passionate advocacy for the protection of the Pines, to her stewardship of the property in the Pinelands where she and her family have lived for many years.”

The Pine Barrens make up 1.1 million acres in the southern/central part of the state and encompasses seven of the state’s 21 counties, and more than 50 municipalities, including Jackson. It is the largest body of open space on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard between Richmond and Boston and is underlain by aquifers containing 17 trillion gallons of some of the purest water in the land, according to the New Jersey Pinelands Commission Web site.

Showcasing Her Art

Woods often exhibits her photographs at the Bishop Farmstead, Aquifer, Burlington County College, Brookdale College and Smithville. She has taken part in local festivals, such as the Lacey Crab Fest; the Viking Village Art Show at Barnegat Light; Kriskindlmarkt at Tuckerton Seaport; and the Pine Barrens Jamboree held at Albert Music Hall, at Wells Mills County Park, in conjunction with the Ocean County Parks System.

Woods grew up on Long Beach Island. As a Girl Scout, she would go camping, and later in her teens, her family rented a cabin every year on Lake Absegami at Bass River State Forest. She was in the 1962 storm and the Island was pretty much denuded of trees then. Over the bridge, in the cedar streams, were another world for her with the filtered sunlight, the beautiful lush greens and the flowers, she said. “The ocean and Barnegat Bay were my life, but the woods were beautiful and a treat.”

Woods is married to Stephen, 53, and has two sons, Greg, 27, and Evan, 23. The family started out in Manahawkin until 1986. The family then relocated to Warren Grove in 1996.

“The incredible sunsets brought my camera out first,” Woods said. “The sunsets were so vivid, caused by the powerful weather of the ocean and bay currents colliding with the land currents over the Pygmy Pine Plains.”

The Beauty of the Pines

After graduating from Southern Regional High School in 1976, Woods attended Pratt Institute and then Stockton State College for studies in Fine Arts.

Woods later called up the Pinelands Preservation Alliance when she read that they had opened up their Pinelands event to the public for the first time. “It was raining that October day at Whitesbog Village, the event was largely cancelled, but they let me come,” she said. “A man named Howard Boyd was nice enough to sit with me and look at my photos. I didn’t know that he was the noted naturalist, entomologist and author of the Pinelands.

“There are great places in the public trust to go and experience the Pinelands, like Webbs Mill, Wells Mills and Double Trouble State Park,” Woods said, adding non-profit groups, colleges, townships, counties and park systems offer free or nominal fee courses. There are numerous volunteer opportunities, she added.

“It’s a place that is globally rare and significant. It possesses a singular and signature beauty that is elusive,” Woods said. “I seek to capture the ever-changing qualities of light on the natural form. I have made the Pinelands my source of inspiration of my photography.”

For more information on Ann-Marie, visit