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.





ScanCafe delivers early!

11 12 2009

ScanCafe continues to impress me! I received an e-mail this morning at 8:21 a.m. stating that my order was ready for review. They were seven days early from their original date of December 18. They allow for up to 50% of your scans to be “deleted” and you’re not charged for those, believe it or not! I reviewed the files and decided not to delete any. I paid the remaining balance and less than 30 minutes later, I had a link to go download the .sit file with all the images. A DVD with the images will be sent with my original slides shortly. It took me a little over an hour to download a compressed file with 400 images—thank goodness for high speed Internet access.

Now begins the (most pleasant!) task of going through the images, processing in Photoshop (still have to teach myself Lightroom 2, though), and determining which ones are worthy of blog exposure. Some of these slides date back to the late 70s—obviously non-digital days—shot with various SLR film cameras ranging from my father’s Yashica (model unknown; he loaned it to me to shoot a high school football game and never got it back!), graduating to a Pentax K1000 purchased at Sears as a present from my dad, then on to my first Nikon—a Nikon N2020, then moving up to a Nikon N90s (followed by another N90s backup body), and ending with my ultimate dream camera (at the time)—a Nikon F5, which I still own.

Yes, I will still be shooting new stuff as my schedule permits and assignments arise, but I hope you’ll enjoy this nostalgic trip (with no particular chronological order) into the world of Kodachrome, Ektachrome and Fuji Velvia!

Photo note: I believe I shot this image of (Greater Flamingoes?) at the Gladys Porter Zoo in McAllen, Texas. I’ve always loved this composition, and it was one of my first images I selected to sent to ScanCafe. I did a 24×36 pastel/conté drawing of this image for my sister, Debbie, as a gift one Christmas many years ago. In fact, that drawing is still hanging in her foyer—unfortunately, it’s framed in an in-vogue-at-the-time (but certainly not now) shiny and modern metal frame—in hot pink (to match the flamingo legs, of course). Yowza! I should also mention that it is on the wall behind the front door when you enter, so it can’t easily gather a flock of admirers around it. Hey, I know it’s still there. Good on ya, Deboo.

LATE-BREAKING NEWS: In his recent comment, my father reminded me that I didn’t include one more film camera that was in my repertoire—my medium format Mamiya 645! Dad bought me this camera while I was still living in Texas, shooting portraits and weddings for extra cash. I had it for several years, then sold it when I moved to the Washington, D.C. area so I could buy my Nikon 2020 and various lenses to get back into shooting 35mm. I put an ad in the Washington Post and sold it for about $900, to the best of my recollection. Many years later, during one of my jaunts to Infinite Color (a local lab) to get slides processed, I started chatting with a photo techie guy who was manning the front counter that morning. One thing led to another and I discovered that he was the guy I had sold the camera to (about 8-9 years earlier). He was still using it at the time and loved it. He waxed rhapsodic over its virtues and I left the lab wishing I had kept the camera! I wonder if ScanCafe does medium 2-1/4 negatives and slides…hmmm…I sense a future project coming on!