[ From the Archives of 365 ]
The True 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 and celebrities, but today I met true photographic royalty.
Meet Silvino and his sister Andrea, two incredibly hard-working people. I’ve known 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 mind 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!
Then, 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 his 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 minutes 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, as seated at a tech counter in the back corner, he quietly worked 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 on what looks like delicately wiring a flash head. And from behind the counter, Andrea pleasantly steps up. With a warm smile, she breaks the silence as, greeting me, she writes up my paperwork.
Business done, we start to chat. We share life stories, 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 asking 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.
So today it is easy to forget the spotlight the famous photographers and celebrities hold. For front and center in my mind are Silvono, Andrea, and Hortencia: keep going, you’re doing things right! In my mind, and as the people you are, I see you as the true Kings and Queens of Hollywood.
Silvono, Andrea, Hortencia: Thanks for letting me into your lives.