Icon vs Icon

Last week online pop culture magazine, Icon vs Icon published a great new interview with Marty Casey – and with it they debuted some images of mine that have never been seen before.


Shot last fall in San Juan Capistrano, the session yielded one truly iconic image – and of course Icon vs Icon chose that one for their headline image! It’s also the primary image on myspace.com/martycasey and it’s the very first image in my portfolio at cherylspelts.com. Iconic is an understatement – of all the images I’ve shot of Marty, it’s the one in my opinion, that best encapsulates who he is – if any one image can do that… It’s pretty and gritty, and complex, and mysterious and yet still wide open.

But that image, as great as it is, has been seen before… The fun part this week is the new stuff! Icon vs Icon used four never-before-seen images, but there are even more in the slideshow!

Icon vs Icon

I’d like to thank Jason Price at Icon vs Icon… Jason, you rock!

Iconic Portraits: Part Two

Yesterday I blogged about an iconic image – an image that I created – that defines me as an artist. It’s an image that defines my art, my business, and my style.

But I’m not always the one taking the photograph…

I think that everyone has a favorite image of themselves. I have several! And I want to share them, because if I have one wish for my business it’s that I hope to give my clients images they love of themselves as much as I love and treasure these images of me. Everyone deserves that! Everyone deserves a little magic – and the right photograph can give you that.

Cheryl Spelts

This first image is in my opinion, the best image ever taken of me! It was shot by one of my closest friends at the time – the incredibly talented Kevin Mann during his first semester in a beginning photography class. We were in my backyard, it was dusk, he had a cheap clamp-on lightbulb, and he insisted on spraying me with a hose. I thought it was a little nuts! But he believed firmly in what he was doing – and he was right – and he shot a magical portrait. He printed it huge, and it still hangs on my wall in my bedroom. When I think of myself, this is the image in my head.

Cheryl Spelts

This next image is my first real headshot – from my hugely successful acting career in LA. Not really… I took lots of classes – from a well-known teacher who had published a book on acting – he was the real deal. But auditioning in LA was very different than auditioning in San Diego, and I was just not ready. So I decided to take a break, moved back and started to study photography, so that I could shoot other actor’s headshots when I went back to LA. But I fell in love with photography, and never went back to LA. It was not the plan, and I never would have guessed I could love something more than acting – but I did and I do and I have no regrets. But I still love this headshot! It was shot by Willa Burns in Oceanside and I was 22.

Self Portrait with Tiara

And this one was shot by me! With a plastic camera, a big fan, a tiara, and some BBQ tongs so I could trip the shutter – really weird setup, but I love the results. I shot this in 2004 as part of a whole series of self-portraits – but this one is my favorite!

So those are the three iconic portraits of me. Everyone should have at least one!

Cheryl Spelts

This last one is not iconic – but it is fun! I found it as I was looking for my first headshot, and wanted to share it too. It was shot at the very end of my big acting career – right before I started to study photography. I wasn’t very happy as an actress at that point – and I think you can see that in my face. I just look a little off. But you gotta love the hair!

Iconic Portraits: Part One

Pure Rock and Roll // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

In 1994 I got my first job as a photographer. I wasn’t hired because of my portfolio, or my education, or my skills – I was hired because of my enthusiasm and passion for the art. I REALLY wanted it, and luckily the person doing the hiring thought that was a big asset and took a chance on me. I got a little training – basically set the camera and the lights up like this, use these poses, and work as fast as you can, while making sure the client has a great time. It was a great job! But after a month or so I got bored with the standard poses, and I started to focus more on finding the perfect angle for each person I shot. I started looking for the beauty in that person. And my sales shot way up! I got used to having at least one person dissolve into tears each day – because they never thought they could look that beautiful. It was a very very cool time in my life!

But I started to get bored… I wanted more. I wanted to change the way the lights were set up, I wanted to move the camera, and I wanted to go outside and shoot. I wanted to actually understand how the camera and the film and lights worked. I didn’t want to just set it and forget it, and follow a standard set of poses anymore. Was that asking so much?

So I left that job and started to take photography classes, and then spent the next ten years in the darkroom. I loved everything about the darkroom – the smells, the chemicals, the way you work all day to get one perfect print. There’s just nothing else like a black and white darkroom…

During that first year of school I shot an image that still perfectly defines my style as a photographer. I consider it to be one of my iconic images. There are several very sweet shots on that same roll of film, but this one image, with the wet hair, and the thumb in the mouth, and the big dark eyes – it just says so much about me, as a photographer. I initially titled it “Pure Rock n’ Roll” and I still think that’s a very fitting title.

I’ve thought about retiring it – it was shot in 1995, so it’s nearly thirteen years old now – and I’ve shot thousands of other beautiful images. But something about this one is just so special, and so rock n’ roll, and so me.

For me, it’s an iconic image. It’s who I was at the time I shot it, and it’s still pretty much who I am now – all these years later.