Portraits

15 01 2013

A few months ago I donated a framed botanical image to a school auction and was offered a free full page b&w ad for their catalog. After combing my portrait archives, I’ve realized that I’ve done a LOT of portraits in my lifetime. I love doing portraits as much as I love photographing gardens, flowers and insects! I’m working on a separate website for my photography and will be launching it in a few months. There will be a separate section just for portraits. These are just a few of the many faces I’ve captured in pixels over the past few years.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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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.





Re-post: Portrait of Nicole

2 08 2012

Originally posted 12.12.2009

One of my favorite portrait subjects—Nicole

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Vintage Laurie

20 07 2012

While Laurie was in town to see my show and be photographed for the Hearing Loss Magazine, we also had a fun modeling session one night. For this vintage look, I used the Musette filter from the Florabella Luxe Collection, with a few tweaks. For the gown underneath her shrug, I wrapped her with this cool bubbly-texture throw that I bought at IKEA, of all places.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Craft Room: T-shirt scarves

4 07 2012

Yet another craft project with my sister Debbie—scarves crafted from t-shirts. These were fun, easy and fast no-sew projects with unlimited possibilities! Thanks to the lovely Barbara Kelley for modeling for us.





Re-post: Playing with Totally Rad Actions—Portraits of Lauren

1 02 2012

Originally posted March 3, 2010

Using an image I shot of my niece, Lauren, I have applied nine of my favorite Totally Rad Actions from photographer Doug Boutwell—just to show you some of the effects you can achieve with portraits. I love his action names, too—Prettytizer, Cool as a Cucumber, Not-So-Magic Glasses, Rusty Cage, SX-70…

The first photo in the series is a “normal” shot (with minor retouching, but no action applied). Some of the actions were used at 100% strength; some were dialed back to about 60-75% strength (particularly in the case of Technicolor Dream World, Grunge Rock and Pross Crossessed #1). I just love these Photoshop actions—they’re well worth the investment if you want to take some of your photos to another level with very little effort. And no, I don’t get a kickback from endorsing Doug’s store—I just love to share a great product when I find one! I don’t use them in my garden and nature photographs, but they’re great used occasionally with landscapes, portraits and architecture—and when you want to add an artistic effect to a dull “record” shot.

Go play on his site here and try out his “recipes” for cool effects. Now I’m thinking I might have to add his “TRA 2—The Revenge” to my arsenal. When I ordered my actions and had a little problem completing the download, Doug was very quick to respond personally. Very nice guy with very nice products!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Mandy Harvey: Musically Inclined

14 01 2012

Mandy Harvey, a jazz vocalist and songwriter from northern Colorado, was one of the feature articles in the January/February 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I met and photographed Mandy at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, WI, host to HLAA’s Convention 2010. Mandy was the guest entertainer at Friday night’s Rumble event at the Museum.

Barbara Kelley, editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine and deputy executive director of HLAA, interviewed Mandy for this issue of the magazine. Learn more about Mandy’s here and listen to her music and buy CDs here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Mandy showed an early talent for singing, but also had infrequent periods of hearing loss. At age ten, her family moved to Colorado. Her vocal talent blossomed and she won numerous school awards, notably Top Female Vocalist of 2006 as a high school senior.

After high school, Mandy went to Colorado State University. During her first semester, Mandy noticed she had to move closer to hear recordings. Hearing aids helped at first. Six months later, she had no hearing left. Discouraged, Mandy returned home to take American Sign Language classes and pursue Elementary Education at a local community college.

Once she returned home Mandy decided that she would take a year off from singing, but continued to play the guitar with her father. One day, while searching the Internet, Mandy and her father discovered a song titled Come Home by One Republic. Mandy’s father suggested that she learn the lyrics. Mandy thought this would be impossible but she gave it her best effort, and to her surprise she was able to learn the lyrics. She realized then that she didn’t have to give up singing.

I met Mandy in 2010 in Milwaukee at the HLAA Convention where she sang at one of our events at the Harley-Davidson Museum. HLAA photographer Cindy Dyer photographed her at the Museum before her performance. We were pleased to catch up with her recently to ask her a few questions.

Tell me about your hearing loss.
My hearing loss is due to neurological damage and the last it was tested showed it around 110 dB in both ears.

Do you use any type of assistive technology?
I had hearing aids when I was first losing my hearing, which was around winter 2006 and the beginning of 2007. Once my hearing loss progressed to a specific stage hearing aids didn’t help much. Because of the nerve damage, a cochlear implant was not an option for me. At this point I rely mostly on lip reading and American Sign Language.

Talk about your aspirations to become a music teacher.
I went to Colorado State University in the hopes of becoming a vocal jazz teacher. In all honesty I wouldn’t feel right about giving my professional opinion to students wanting to study voice. If I cannot hear them to give advice or to teach 100 percent, I would end up just getting frustrated and feeling as if I was wasting their money. Instead, I have turned my life to performing jazz as well as working in the medical field.

What about your personal life and family?
I currently live in Denver with my hearing service dog, Annie, and my love, Travis. My family is extremely supportive and they have learned some American Sign Language. My sister, Sammi, is fluent in the language now. It helps a lot to be able to communicate with your loved ones. Travis is currently learning the language for me.

Where is your singing career right now?
My singing career is in a beautiful place right now. As things stand I work a regular 8-5, Monday through Friday, job. The weekend is mine for performing. Having the regular job mixed with weekend work relieves the pressure of having to do a bunch of gigs just to be able to pay the bills. Instead I am able to do gigs that inspire me and that bring joy.

I have two albums, Smile and After You’ve Gone, which are both full of jazz standard, though the latter contains some original work by myself and Mark Sloniker. I am currently saving up to make a Christmas album this year.

Tell me something about yourself you would like people to know; something that would surprise people.
That’s a hard question. I used to be fascinated by insects and toads and non-girly things like that. When I was a child I wanted to travel the world and discover amazing finds on archeological digs.

You have a fascination with the 40s. How has this genre influenced you and your music?
I have been fascinated with the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s my entire life. I grew up listening to The Beatles, Doobie Brothers, and classic jazz. I love everything in those eras from the clothing to the inventions. It truly was a beautiful time in history…seems to have had lots of details that were not as obvious as things are today. Back then, there could be a song about someone’s smile and how it would capture the imagination. I feel music today has lost some of that mystery and has become far too blunt.

What are your favorite songs?
My Funny Valentine, Someone to Watch Over Me, Come Fly with Me, Over the Rainbow, and of course, Smile…this list is never ending. I find passion in the music and it makes you feel something different every time you sing them.

What music don’t you care for?
I love most everything but I am not a huge fan of most Rap or R&B. I will admit I do enjoy a few songs here and there but in general they all tend to feel the same.

Who is your favorite artist and why?
Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Blossom Dearie, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Thelonius Monk, Duke…oh my goodness, my list could go on and on. They are brilliant and the work they have done inspires me every time I think of them.

What one place in the world would you like to visit?
I have always had a dream to live in Scotland. The country has always called my name. My goal is in the next 10 years to have been there for at least three months continuously. If you are there for only a week you cannot understand the culture.

To find some of her recordings, go to YouTube.com and search for Mandy Harvey. You will find several videos, including her rendition of Smile.

Barbara Kelley is deputy executive director and editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine. She can be reached at bkelley@hearingloss.org.

Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. Student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. Fees outside the U.S. are slightly higher. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, Costco membership, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.