From The The Lacey-Barnegat Times
Photographer Captures Slice Of Pine Barrens
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
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
For more information on Ann-Marie, visit