Hunting for Diamonds in the Rough

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Tally Springer’s Photographic Journey
by Bill Hedrick

Talita Springer, known as “Tally” to her friends, was only 15 years old when she came to the United States from Brazil. She and her younger sister had to quickly learn English and adapt to a new culture. It wasn’t easy. But life is not always a smooth path lined with flowers and waterfalls and Tally would learn over the coming years that facing life’s challenges can make us stronger and open our minds to possibilities of which we never dreamed.

Much of Tally’s inspiration and strength came from her mother who was a successful journalist in Brazil. “She owned her own newspaper and was very involved politically with the government,” says Tally. “Not only did she do her own interviews and write the stories, she also photographed the events to include those images in her publications.” Tally would spend hours watching her mother develop those images and would help her sort through them and help select which ones to use in the stories. The seed had been planted.

By the time Tally was 18, they were living in Florida and Tally was involved with a singles group at church when she began corresponding with a young man serving in the Air Force and based at Minot, North Dakota. “We had a long-distance friendship that developed into a romantic one,” she explains. The young couple dated and, six months later, were married.

Military life is one of mobility. About the time you get settled in and make new friends, you are re-assigned to a new place where you start all over again. Their first move as a married couple was to California. After that, Tally and Larry relocated to several other state-side locations including Georgia, Florida, New Mexico, and Ohio, and international locations including South Korea, and Germany. “Finally, we ended up in Texas,” she adds.

Within weeks of the birth of their first child, Larry received new orders and was deployed to Afghanistan. Even with a new baby, Tally needed something else to occupy her mind and to keep her busy. Her immediate answer was to use her camera to record every moment of their first born. Within no time, her friends noticed her images and asked her to photograph their children. “Word spread quickly and that was when I realized that I could turn my passion into a career,” explains Tally.

By 2011, Tally had moved her hobby into a business, photographing mostly families and children. “I had developed a love and passion for capturing babies and children in their innocence,” she adds. To expand her knowledge and expertise in this field, Tally enrolled in workshops on newborn photography and focused for several years on these types of sessions.

In 2016, she joined the Professional Photographers of America and hit the ground running. But just about the time things seemed to be going smoothly, the military stepped in again with new orders. The very next year, they were relocated to Ohio. “Having to move every two to three years with the military is stressful and difficult,” Tally explains. “Even more so for my business. It seemed like, as the business picked up a good speed, we got notified of a relocation.”

But that move opened up new doors as well. Shortly after relocating to Ohio, Tally was approached by a client who was in need of updated portraits for her modeling portfolio as well as some “laid back” and more traditional style of photos. By this time, Tally was a Certified Professional Photographer and was confident that she could handle the session with no problem. “Before I knew it, I was photographing more and more models and was being contacted to photograph fashion events and even runway shows.” For the next five years or so, fashion, beauty, and modeling portraits became the center point of her business. “It was an unplanned and unexpected opportunity but I soon discovered my love for this type of photography,” she adds.

Tally has always had a creative mind and has found inspiration from a variety of sources, even as a child. “I grew up crocheting with my grandmother as a form of relaxing and bonding. Music, paintings, images and drawings have always awed me,” she explains. “It is incredible how people can feel emotions and have different interpretations of what is being displayed.”

Each day, Tally sets aside a certain amount of time for inspiration, meditation, and processing her feelings. “I consider myself sensitive and spiritual and I believe in the power of the universe and the energy in nature and life all around us. If we send positive thought and positive energy, we receive positives in return. This is why nature inspires me… not necessarily in the visual sense but in the combinations of emotions I experience while interacting with nature.”

But certain people would inspire Tally during her photographic journey. Richard Avedon’s unique view of fashion portraits would move Tally to think outside the box and to sometimes break the rules but break them with a purpose. Stunning images by Steve McCurry, a noted geographic photographer, inspired her to create images that speak to the heart and evoke emotion. “Whether it be joy, sadness, fear, or some other emotion, my goal is to always create a story that provokes the viewer to feel something,” says Tally.

One of the most influential persons to inspire Tally was Kristy Steeves who came into her life and quickly recognized Tally’s potential. The two met on social media after Tally posted some of her CPP entries and asked for feedback. Kristy reportedly was “blown away” by Tally’s stunning work and reached out to Tally and asked her if she had ever entered image competition. The answer was, “No.”

At that point, Kristy invited Tally to attend one of her workshops where the two met in person for the first time and quickly became friends. Kristy would become Tally’s mentor, urging her to enter her work in International Photographic Competition. The image that originally caught Kristy’s attention was “Feisty Eyes” and was selected to be used on the cover of the PPA Magazine.

Yet another source of inspiration for her photography comes from learning the English language. Very early in that process, idioms were intriguing to Tally. As a result, many of her photographic sessions today are inspired by them. “Eye Candy” became the title of Tally’s first image that started her idiom journey.

“It was a senior session that I proposed we do something fun with candy and sugar. We created the image to make her hair look like cotton candy. She had sugar lips and held a lollipop over her eyes. I had so much fun translating this idiom into a fun story,” she relates. “I was told by some that the image would not do well in image competition, supposedly because judges did not score high key images very high but my mentor, Kristy Steeves, encouraged me to enter it anyway. The image did well in IPC and was later selected as one of the GIA finalists in the high school category.

There was no end to interesting idioms to inspire her creativity: tickled pink, blessing in disguise, break a leg, two peas in a pod, hit the sack, pull yourself together, perfect storm, head in the clouds… the list was endless.

“Red Heads Have More Fun” was another idiom that inspired Tally while she and her husband were stationed in South Korea. It was during her early years and Tally had not yet perfected many of her photographic skills and the couple was visiting a botanic garden.

“There were so many Bleeding Hearts around and I had never seen them in person and was fascinated by their colors and beautiful shape… as if they were females dancing and wearing beautiful red dresses. At the time I took the image, I thought it was amazing but, with time, I learned just how poorly photographed it was. It wasn’t until just last year that I decided to pull the image out and see what I could do with it,” she explains.

This is where the pandemic comes into play. With businesses shut down and lives in turmoil, Tally took the time to focus on enhancing the composite and digital painting abilities she had studied over the years. Some of her favorite photographs that were made early in her career, but which were dismissed for one reason or another, were revisited. One of favorite things to do now is to go through her old photographs and find “Diamonds in the Rough” to challenge herself and bring those images back to life again.
“Red Heads Have More Fun” became a very special image for Tally. “I love it so much that words cannot express how much I love that image,” she says. “To make it even more special, that image earned me my Master Artist degree and diamond photographer.”

Tally Springer does the majority of her photography on location. “I am a NIKON girl and have been throughout my photography career. My favorite lens is my 70-200mm and, for lighting, I use Alien Bees.” Interestingly enough, Tally often creates her own outfits for model work or else combines clients’ props with her own.

Today, Tally excels at the full spectrum of photography. She is a Master Photographer, Photographic Craftsman, and Master Artist. She serves as a Certified Professional Photographer Liaison and a representative for the American Society of Photographers. It is her way of “giving back” to those who have helped her along the way.

“It is important to find what feels comfortable for you. Early in my career, I tried to copy a specific style that I admired but I quickly discovered my own style and I did so by learning from others,” she explains. But Tally also challenges others to go back through their older work and search for their own “Diamonds in the Rough.”

So, what are Tally’s plans for the future? “One of my current goals for the immediate future is to open a studio in Texas and, in the distant future, I hope to attend PPA judging school and to start my journey to becoming a PPA judge,” she says.

In the meantime, Tally has a more immediate objective which is shared by artists the world over… “Never forgetting to be true to myself… just going out there in the world and doing what I love and what makes ME happy.”