Sylvia on a summer afternoon

11 08 2012

Who says your memory isn’t what it used to be when you get older? Sure, I don’t remember some things I’ve said or done years ago (when I’m reminded), but when I look at something I’ve photographed, no matter how long ago, I remember specific things. This is Sylvia, who was one of the “Four Muskateers”—a group of four best friends (from elementary school to high school and beyond) that included my younger sister, Kelley. All four girls were willing guinea pigs whenever I asked them to model for me. I was just starting out as a photographer and dreamed of becoming a fashion photographer when I got older.

I was about 19 years old at the time I shot this image. Sylvia was about 15 years old. She was wearing my high school graduation Gunne Sax dress (remember that brand?). My mother was having kidney stone surgery sometime before my high school graduation and dad was tasked with taking me shopping to find a dress for graduation (fun for him, I’m sure). I doubt he remembers taking me shopping, but I do and I just loved this dress so much. It was a very lightweight floral fabric in shades of taupe, brown and cream with lace trim, a lace neckline, and a stretchy smocked waist and I wore it well after graduation. I kept it and used it often in my self-assigned fashion shoots like the one here. The shawl in the photo was a very old baby blanket that I think my sister used for her baby doll’s crib when she was little.

We drove out into the country in Donna, Texas and found this stand of beautiful trees, dappled with late afternoon light. If my recollection is correct, I shot this with a Pentax K1000 35mm that my father bought me from Sears (yes, Sears). I had confiscated his Yashica 35mm in my senior year of high school to photograph a football game for the yearbook staff. I had never used a 35mm and I begged him to let me borrow it since no one else could cover the game that weekend. He made me promise not to break it, loan it out or leave it unattended. After the b&w contact sheets came back, the images were amazing. Every image perfectly cropped, actions stopped—sheer beginner’s luck, of course. I immediately fancied myself becoming a Sports Illustrated photographer (and I am so not a sports fan)! Accolades came flying in. I was smitten with photography from that point on. And no, he never got his camera back!

The next week I covered a game and my photos were horrible, but I was already floating on the cloud of success from my first go at it, so I persevered. So much so, that he bought me the Pentax K1000 35mm and a few lenses from Sears. Later, when I started my little photography business out of our den, he invested in a Mamiya 645J medium format camera, a few lenses and some accessories. I shot weddings, portraits and events with that camera. When I moved to the Northern Virginia area in 1985, I sold the Mamiya (and got a really good price for it!) and bought my first 35mm—a Nikon N2000, as I recall. This began my foray to becoming the Nikon snob I am today.

FYI—Sylvia was very photogenic and still is—I last saw her about nine years ago and she hasn’t aged a bit! Check out this closeup portrait I shot of her during the same session and blogged about here.

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UPDATE: It’s funny how things often do come around full circle. My complete lack of interest in sports still doesn’t keep me away from the subject. First, high school football photography, then decades later—photographing an NFL player and then a former NFL cheerleader! I was reminded of this unplanned journey by my friend Barbara in her comment below:

You forgot to mention your early days of photographing that high school football game eventually lead to a photo shoot at NFL’s Washington Redskins training camp in 2008 with a cover shot of Reed Doughty, safety, #37, for a feature article in Hearing Loss Magazine. Then, a photo shoot with a San Diego Charger’s “Charger Girl” cheerleader this year. So, you see, you don’t have to be a sports fan to get the great shots. You are an amazing talented girl!”

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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2 responses

13 08 2012
Barbara Garneau Kelley

You forgot to mention your early days of photographing that high school football game eventually lead to a photo shoot at NFL’s Washington Redskins training camp in 2008 with a cover shot of Reed Doughty, safety, #37, for a feature article in Hearing Loss Magazine. Then, a photo shoot with a San Diego Charger’s “Charger Girl” cheerleader this year. So, you see, you don’t have to be a sports fan to get the great shots. You are an amazing talented girl!

13 08 2012
cindydyer

Good point, Barbara! It’s neat to see it come around full circle in the way you just described in your comment. And unlike some folks, I can appreciate the issue (sports) enough to design and photograph without actually caring about the topic at hand! 🙂

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