Zebra Misc

On Exhibit: Discerning Destinations

Sergio the Somm at Sonoma Cellars. Photo by Lillis Atkins Werder.

The World According to Werder

By Kelly MacConomy

Alexandria, VA- What makes someone a true photographer? It takes more than owning a camera, and the ever-elusive “good eye” is a gift one does or doesn’t have. Distinguishing the true artist from the cellphone selfie, the travel shutterbug, the food-porn or daily-diary phone documenter, can sometimes be difficult. It’s a studiously focused lens, intuitive capturing of the world through a viewfinder, that sets the defining line between honed craft and hobby. Photography is art.

Lillis Atkins Werder transcends traditional photography, taking it one step further, mounting her vibrant, painterly images onto stretched canvas.

The art of Lillis Photography is currently on exhibit at Sonoma Cellar in a show titled, “Discerning Destinations”. This Old Town hot spot regularly invites established artists in all media to display their work in the eclectic wine tasting and dining space.

Fine Art Photographer Lillis Atkins Werder of Lillis Photography. Photo by Richard Allnutt.

Werder’s panoramic images of the California coastline paired with Old Town’s lush secret gardens and well-appointed doorways complement the Sonoma Cellar ambiance, which features iconic California wine country varietals along with Virginia’s own vinicultural offerings.

Lillis’s show is aptly named. In it, she demonstrates her keenly discerning eye. A moment in the Prague subway becomes a narrative of human complexity and intrigue. A day’s-end shot of tethered kayaks at Jack’s Boat House in Georgetown transforms into a kaleidoscope of neon abstraction. Through Lillis Werder’s lens, the ordinary is rendered extraordinary. And vice versa.

“Jack’s Boathouse, Georgetown.” Photo by Lillis Photography.

In Werder’s wanderings, an instant in time is extrapolated while the grandiose becomes familiar, almost intimate. One enlarged monumental image of Times Square in the rain conveys a serene, comforting mood as if it’s a backstreet depiction of April in Paris. The tightly framed perspective of a gargoyle perched atop Notre Dame Cathedral, titled “Le Guardien”, all the more poignant now, evokes a pastoral park bench viewpoint despite the stark, grey stone composition.

Lillis’s expertise as a portrait photographer is evident in her compelling photographs of incognito revelers at the Venice Carnevale. Viewers find vulnerable to the suggestive, flirtatious insouciance and mischief of her subjects.

Werder is also a fine art and event photographer, with work regularly on exhibit at the Art League of the Torpedo Factory, Focus Gallery in Falls Church, the Tryst Gallery in Leesburg, and Chasen Galleries of Richmond. Her art photography and commissioned work have been widely seen throughout the DMV and published nationally, in media outlets such as the Washington Post, Fox News, Redbook, and National Geographic. Lillis Photography has provided commanding images for numerous Zebra covers and features since 2017.

Lillis is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and lives in Prince William County with her husband Dave, her son Sam, and her Corgis, Harry and Grace.

“Radio City Rain” image on canvas by Lillis Photography

“Discerning Destinations” is on exhibit at Sonoma Cellar through July 1. Photo canvases hang throughout the restaurant and wine bar. All Lillis Photography art is available for sale. Explore the world according to Werder. Her lens is a love letter to travel. Poetry in pictures. Each shot a sublime postcard, from diverting destinations and eccentric ports of call to DMV musings and street life scenery. Come for the art. Stay for Sonoma-style hospitality. It’s like the staycation of your daydreams.

Lillis Photography


[email protected]


Facebook: Lillis Photography

Instagram: @lilliswerder

Sonoma Cellar

207 King Street, Old Town Alexandria

Open 4~11 pm Monday~ Friday

10am ~ 11 pm Saturday and Sunday

Kelly MacConomy

Kelly MacConomy is the Arts Editor for The Zebra Press.

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