SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 7: The King and Queen of Hollywood

When you think of the west coast photo scene, you may think of a who’s who list of name photographers, but today I met true photographic royalty.

Meet Silvino and his sister Andrea, two incredibly hard-working people. I’ve known of Silvino’s name for years as one synonymous with quality flash equipment repair. His reputation is huge and well-respected.

Never met the man before today, so let me start my story with a tale.

Once upon a time there was a beauty and portrait photographer. His light was spectacular (please forgive the self glory, just makes a better tale), but his equipment was flawed. One flash, two flash, three flash, none. A song that was becoming more and more familiar to him. His heart was troubled, and his patience was thin as he did his best to mend the problem. A little tape here, a rap of a hand there, but no matter how hard he tried he would experience again: one flash, two flash, three flash, none. Day after day turned into week after week and as the months slowly passed his trouble only grew. One flash, two flash, three flash, NONE!  Total darkness finally fell upon him, so off to Silvino’s he went.

OK, we’re on the same page, take the flash head to an expert, time to meet Silvino. I call to schedule a drop. Answering the phone is sister Andrea. We chat the usual tech stuff and my gut tells me to ask her if she would be interested in being photographed for 365. I explain it to her and she promises me 5 minutes. We agree and 45 minute later I find myself in Silvino’s West Hollywood shop.

I arrive and am welcomed to a very busy family-run business. I first meet Silvino, seated at a tech counter in the back corner, quietly working away with electrical grace. I look around and self inventory countless flash equipment of every brand. The tone of the room is focused and as my eye’s scan I notice another technician (Hortencia: Silvino’s step sister) hard at work in what looks like delicately wiring a flash head. And from behind the counter Andrea pleasantly steps up. With a warm smile she break the silence in greeting me as she writes up my paperwork.

Business done, we start to chat. We share stories about life, our children (turns out we both have 8-year-old daughters) and of her 17 years of working with her brother.

Silvino’s ears perk up, leading to my inviting him to join us in conversation and if he will be in our photograph. He humbly agrees, but states, “I never let people photograph me.” I feel privileged, seeing it as an honor to photograph someone whose work I truly respect.

His job is thankless and unseen. What he and his family do is a great backbone to the LA photo industry. Something that I challenge every photographer to respect in using his services.

We all chat and the conversation quickly turns away from business to more poignant topics. We expand our talk to past, family and our LA histories. As we converse, I am smitten by a sense of laughter blended with a powerfully determined work ethic and focus on family.

We share family photos and stories of our kids. In doing so, I strengthen my testimony of the importance of family and our responsibilities as parents. I reflect upon the many hard-working families I know. I walk away with a self-challenge, and a challenge to you, to recommit to getting to more fully know our communities.

Forget the spotlight celebrities. Silvono, Andrea and Hortencia: keep going, you’re doing things right! You are the Kings and Queens of Hollywood.

To all who are reading this, do your affirmations for Andrea; her deadbeat ex-husband has not paid a cent of child support for over 5 years. I was told this in a very humble statement from Andrea. She expresses it to me without guile and is very humble about it. But I’m torked. Andrea is a class act. She did not call her ex a deadbeat, I did. So ex-dad, if you read this, be a man and support your daughter.

Silvono, Andrea, Hortencia: Thanks for letting me into your lives.