Friday, May 04, 2007

Look mom - I'm in the paper!

(This article ran in the Statesman this morning. I'm pretty happy with it. Must admit getting interviewed was a little nerve racking, but Helen did a great job. As for the Gen Art shows... there were only 1200 people at two of them. The others only had a couple of hundred people.)


Sledd trained her eye on photography at young age

Mary Sledd

Age 26

Status: Single, but taken

Austin connection: Lifelong Austininte. Her parents, Melissa Sledd and the late James Sledd, founded Sledd Nursery on West Lynn Street, and her grandfather, James Sr., was a well-known Enlgihs professor at the University of Texas.

Schools: McCallum High School:University of Texas bachelor of art degree, honors humanities. Additional photo courses at Austin Community College.

Current Position: Self-employed photographer. She’s also a partner in the entertainment Website

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was really little I wanted to be a vet, but later I wanted to be a lawyer so I could wear a three-piece power suit and carry a briefcase.

How’d you get into photography?

I started taking pictures at 14. My Aunt Laurie, who’s a photographer, gave me her old camera, and I fell in love. Then the (Austin) Chronicle found me when I was 16 and I started taking pictures for them. Then word got out I was 16 and I was demoted to intern. While I was still in college Gen Art (an organization that promotes emerging artists) repped me, and I had a few art shows with 1200 people in attendance. And I was still shooting for the Chronicle and shooting bands.

What did you study at ACC?

While I was still at UT, I took some photography courses at ACC. The portrait photography teacher hated me. The olan mills thing, I could never get. Or didn’t want to get. I made a C.

So your work took on a life of its won while you were still in college. What happened when you go out?

When I graduated (in 2003) I thought I wanted to go to law school. School is sort of addictive. So I applied to Whittier College and go ta full scholarship. I showed up for registration and never went back. Then my college boyfriend dumped me, and I saw a Craigslist posting for a reality show called ‘Faking It..’ I auditioned, and I got it. I went to L.A. for five weeks. I have to admit I invented a person I know they would cast. I won, on the show. But the show never aired. They decided it was too far from reality, I guess. All this time (sinche college) I’d been working at the nursery. After the reality show, I knew I only wanted to be there one day a week and I wanted to make the photography thing happen. So I just started making calls.

Were you worried about being able to make a living at photography?

I thought I couldn’t. Then I decided it just didn’t matter. If it didn’t work, I’d move home. But it did work.

You do all sorts of work, right? Even weddings?

I have a separate company that does weddings, so yes, every Saturday between now and December I do weddings.

How does the family nursery business play into your life?

I love the nursery. I don’t want to work there 40 hours a week, but it’s a beautiful place to be. And you meet so many people there. It doesn’t hurt when I’m (shooting) an event that I already know the key players because they shop there.

Who or what is your all-time favorite photographic subject?

There’s this one definite person who changed my life: Janean Garofalo. I’m 17 at SXSW. The Chronicle assigns me to shoot a star. And I ruined the film . I was so nervous about getting it right and I got it wrong. I called and (Garofalo) said OK; I could have 5 minutes at Firth and Congress. I ddi it again, and everything was OK. Had she said no, it’s very possible that the Chronicle would’ve fired me and I would’ve give up on photography and become a lawyer.

- Helen @nders

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