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Cover Artist - Von Watts

The Arts On Our Cover

Von Watts is the Picture Lady and So Much More!

She has earned the nickname “the Picture Lady” without even trying. She has been at most Rabun County sporting events for a few decades or more. Why? Because she is always there with her camera; because she is one of the Wildcats’ most loyal fans. From the football team to the band, Rabun County native Von Watts is a supporter. Her friends would tell you she is a devoted, lifelong buddy. The kids in her church and community would say, “we love Miss Von” and her children would tell you she gave them all she had. Today it’s the grandkids who are the apple of her eye. Von Watts is just a genuinely kind and good person. Back in the day, Von was in the Rabun County Band; she graduated from Rabun County High School in 1981. While in attendance there she was asked by J.L. Roach to help out on the annual staff. She was handed a camera and sent out to take photos. She realized that she truly enjoyed it. Working after school at Drug Mart, Von started saving for her first camera. She purchased a Pentax K-1000 35mm. This was before digital cameras when film was sent off to be developed or developed in a dark room. This began her love affair with the camera or rather with capturing moments. Years later she went through many old photos and found some treasures that she shared with family members. After high school, Von went on to complete the photography program at North Georgia Technical College. She opened a photography studio and while she loved the picture taking aspect of the business, she didn’t relish running the business side. She then went to work for Rudeseal Photography in Cornelia, Georgia where she stayed for a couple years. In that time she married, and soon after they began a family. Von first had Logan and next came a set of twins, Kenneth and Sarah. Sudden infant death syndrome claimed Sarah’s life. Von calls Sarah her little deposit in Heaven and knows she’ll see her again one day. The loss was tragic and hard on every member of her family. Kelsie completed her family a couple years later. Today a son-in-law (James) and daughter-in-law (Sarah) have been added and three grandsons (Landon age 5, Marco age 3, and Luke who is 10 months). Her children and grandchildren are her life. “One thing that photography gave me was the ability to work from home and raise my children. Once I left Rudeseal’s Photography I stayed home and I did local wedding photography. I also did children’s photography and family portraits. I could fit in photo sessions while my kids were at school or do weddings on the weekends, develop the film and put together a portfolio for the bride in the evenings. Staying home with my children was such a blessing,” she said. Von found herself a single parent and balancing it all took some work but she did it! In 2000, she took a job in the Photo Center at Walmart. She enjoyed it so much and began exploring digital photography more. She bought her first digital camera when the kids were going to prom, she loved the ability to see the photos before printing them and to take hundreds at a time. “In 2004, a position opened up in the Vision Center as a Doctor’s Tech. I put in for it and got it. I found it so interesting! I loved working out on the floor with patients and learning all I could about vision and eye health. I was given the opportunity to go and earn a degree as a Dispensing Optician. It required a lot of studying. I had three teenagers at home and I gave it all I had. I told them while I am studying, unless there is blood, guts and eyeballs involved, don’t bother me. I had been told if you didn’t pass the boards the first time you had to pay to retake the test. They told me that most people didn’t pass the first time, but I knew I had to. I couldn’t afford not to. I had to drive to Macon to take the test and I am proud to say I passed it the first time!” she told me. Von went on

to say that her position as a licensed Dispensing Optician allowed her to provide for her kids. “They saw how hard I studied and were proud of me. That meant so much to me.” Photography became her side gig during those years but you can bet her camera was never far from reach. Today, Von takes photos of things that inspire her, including the Wildcats. Sports is not all that is in her portfolio. There are candid shots of our communities’ children, sunsets, eclipses, flowers, birds and her grands. Health issues have forced her to stop working and will limit her availability on the fields this season but don’t count this Photo Lady out ‘cause she still keeps her camera nearby and as long as she is breathing there’ll be a picture to take. From our county, the parents, players, band members, church members and schools, “Von you are appreciated and loved!”