“When I saw something, I’d fire it, man. Right from the hip,” says Ed Roseberry. And fire away he has. By his own estimation, Roseberry has taken more than 180,000 photographs, most of which capture the life of the University and Charlottesville.
A 1949 graduate of the Commerce School, he got his start shooting pictures with a Rolleiflex camera (which he still owns) for Corks & Curls in 1947. His first assignment was photographing a 47-0 U.Va. football win over Harvard, and “back then, the Ivy League teams were good,” he says.
Clearly, Roseberry found the subject matter around the University to his liking. He would go on to take photographs for the Charlottesville Daily Progress and the University News Services. He also taught photography classes in the School of Architecture and served as an adviser to the yearbook staff, but it was his freelance work that most established him as a familiar and welcome figure to generations of U.Va. students.
Widely known as “Flash,” Roseberry was a ubiquitous part of weekend activities along Rugby Road. Camera in hand, he roamed freely throughout the fraternities. On Sundays, he posted for sale his weekend’s pictures in the windows of Eljo’s, then located on University Avenue. It wasn’t uncommon for the gathered crowd of appreciative onlookers to snarl traffic in front of the store.
Roseberry elevated the party picture to an art form. In fact, the University Art Museum mounted an exhibition of his photographs in 1985. “Roseberry maintained a disciplined and balanced and sober spontaneity which allowed his eye to dance in perfect rhythm with his subject matter,” wrote Richard Jones and Stephen Margulies in the introduction to The Inward Eye, a book chronicling the exhibit.
Born in Roanoke, Va., he moved to Charlottesville when he was 14. After living in Hawaii from 1984 to 2001, Roseberry, now 88, returned to Charlottesville, where he lives today.