My whole life, I've heard about Nadia. "When I worked for Nadia..." "Nadia used to do this..." "Nadia had one of those..." "Nadia, Nadia, Nadia..." She had such an exotic name. And, based on the stories from my dad, such an exotic life. How she traveled the world. How she taught him the whole art of photography. How she met so many cool people. Here is an excerpt from my father's personal story he is keeping:
"I was the lowly college student and darkroom worker. I carried the bags of one of Memphis’ great photographers and artists. I interviewed with Nadia, January 1966, the same month I met Susan. I showed her work I had done in college and high school. I was hired at $1.00 an hour and $1.50 an hour if we had to go out of town to work. I learned a fortune of experience from working for her. Under her guidance, I printed pictures of some of the most notable Memphians of the 20th Century. I learned lighting, chemistry, composition, and perseverance to learn something new. She once went to Europe for a vacation. She told the photography supply shop to give me whatever I needed to set up a color lab at her studio. I read the books and bought the equipment. When she returned, I had printed the first of many color prints. I built the sinks, the work tables, did the plumbing, and wired the timers and lights. She was impressed. I was proud. I saw her last month and took her out to eat. She is now 89 years old and as spry as ever. We reminisced and compared life histories. I told her how she influenced Susan and me. I have many classic portraits and pictures taken while under her guidance. Most are Susan and Mamma and Daddy. They are all priceless. Now my daughter, Kim Jay is a professional photographer. All digital and more artistic than I ever imagined."
My Daddy called me this morning. Let me just say, my Daddy is my biggest fan - followed by Charlie in a close second. He still talks to Nadia. He brags to her about me, which makes me nervous, because, well - I just started this whole photography thing! Anyway, he called me today to tell me that Nadia had gone to my website! (Nerves - immediately, my stomach is in knots, and I'm sweating.) Of course he said she said nice things, but what else would she do? Tell him his darling daughter has a LONG WAY TO GO!?!?!?
A pic of me my Daddy took in 1971.
So who is this Nadia? I've never had the privelege of meeting her yet. So, Google to the rescue. Here's some of what I found:
Absolutely fascinating in every way. What amazing blessing I have been given, in this connection through my father to such an amazing person, much less photographer! Because of her, my father took the time when I was little to explain things like f-stops and apertures. Because she taught him, he taught me.
When I start to think that my work is not art, just photos, I will try to remind myself that each and every child, family, young adult, pet...each is a work of art from my Creator. That's how Nadia started. She saw the African-American culture as a beautiful creation of God - in a time when it was NOT politically correct to do so - especially in MEMPHIS! She took her photographs because it was beautiful to HER. That is my goal!
Thank you, Nadia. And, thank you Daddy.