A MOMENT WITH WALTDSGIRL
Waltdsgirl and Walter at Gulf Shores, Alabama
It's so nice to be back in the Natural State. Arkansas is so pretty, especially in the fall. There are few things as beautiful as driving along the country lanes and seeing the foliage changing from green to orange and brown as winter sets in. As I drove through only a small part of the 1.8 million acres of the Ouachita National Forest, with the Boston and Ouachita Mountains in the distance, I was humbled by the sheer splendor and majesty of so much untouched wilderness. Now, I understand this state's nickname.
I spent some time here years ago when I had the pleasure to meet our own Anicole (A Moment With Anicole), and it's nice to be back in the south. There is something refreshing about places where the streets are rolled up at 7 pm, people actually stop and say hello to strangers, and patriotism still runs strong through the veins of its citizenry.
Arkansas lays claim to quite a few famous people. Among her more notable native sons and daughters are Helen Gurley Brown, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan from 1965 to 1997; American porn star Gauge; James Robert "Jim Bob" Duggar of 19 Kids and Counting fame; John H. Johnson, the first African-American to appear on the Forbes 400 list; and Charles Portis, author of the 1968 classic Western novel, True Grit. Add to this list YPF's very own Waltdsgirl.
I met up with Waltdsgirl after her shift at the hospital. We met in the hospital's cafeteria; I got vanilla pudding with that little dollop of whipped cream in the center, and Waltdsgirl got a strong cup of hot tea. We looked for a place to sit, but all of the available tables were filthy. Why are hospitals—places that are supposed to be sterile—always so dirty? So, with snacks in hand, we wandered back down the corridors, toward the courtyard. As we walked, I spied the art on the wall. Some of it was quite exquisite; some of it...well, let's just say I was glad I was in a hospital. Waltdsgirl explained to me that the paintings were created by local "artists." We went through the doors at the end of the radiology ward and alit into a cheerful, sunny courtyard. There were two ginormous oak trees on either side of the courtyard providing ample shade on this particularly warm autumn day. We sat at one of the several picnic tables and commenced our conversation.
JC: Let's begin, like most of my interviews, with the basics. Tell us where your username comes from.
WG: It's pretty simple, really. My husband's Walter, and I'm his "girl."
JC: Now, thanks to Twitter and short attention spans, please tell us in 140 characters or less about yourself.
WG: I am determined, dedicated, devoted, complicated, and compassionate. I'm also a nurturer and animal and nature lover.
JC: While your describing yourself, please tell us, if you were a fast food, what would it be?
WG: A burrito.
JC: And if people still used CBs, what would your handle be?
WG: That's easy. Sparky. That was my handle when I was a kid. My dad was in a CB radio club. A lot of great memories from those days!
WG: Oh, no. I am originally from El Dorado, Arkansas. I moved all the way up here for my job at the hospital. The people are so much nicer here than where I was working before.
JC: And what is it that you do here at the hospital?
WG: I am the manager of Diagnostic Imaging and an X-ray technologist. I have also worked in ultrasound and the heart catheterization lab.
JC: That's very cool and sounds like quite rewarding work. It must be nice to help so many people. Good for you. Let's move into the realm that everyone is most interested in…photography stuff. Since your camera defines who you are in this hobby, let's begin with that. What was your first camera?
WG: A Canon AE-1 was the first camera I bought for myself. That was about 30 years ago. I still have it. Unfortunately, I never used it to its full ability because it was too expensive for me to learn manual techniques when using film.
JC: And what are you currently shooting with?
WG: I have a Canon Rebel EOS XSi. My only glass is the 55mm lens it came with and a 75–300mm telephoto. I love my camera. It more than suits my current level of photography now.
JC: Tell us what your dream kit would consist of.
WG: Right now, I am fine with the camera I have, but I would love a macro lens and a 500mm telephoto lens. I won't let myself dream about better right now. I have too much to learn with what I have.
JC: I can definitely relate to that. Let's get back to learning more about the real Waltdsgirl. Tell us, what is your favorite restaurant?
WG: Steak and Ale. We no longer have one here, but it was phenomenal.
JC: There was one by my grandmother's house. I never made it there. How about your favorite genre of food?
WG: Fourth of July.
WG: Paris. It's the most beautiful city I have ever seen.
WG: The Louvre.
WG: Classic Rock.
WG: Steven Tyler.
JC: TV show?
WG: Johnny Depp. Is there anyone else?????
WG: MAD Magazine, just kidding!
JC: Card game?
JC: Board game?
[Read the original story here.]
JC: How did you find YPF?
JC: What's your favorite picture you've taken?
WG: I'd have to say my Old Mill picture since I sold a copy of it. Profit is always welcome!
JC: Can't fault the lady for that! And what would you say was the dumbest or most dangerous thing you've done to get the perfect shot?
WG: I guess that would be driving around in the more seedy parts of Little Rock…alone.
JC: Was it worth it? Did you get some decent shots?
WG: Yes, it was worth it because I have found amazing architecture and histories that I would have otherwise missed. I guess I should add one from this weekend…ended up in a parallel universe with what I believe were skinheads. Not worth it at all—no good shots there.
JC: That sucks. So, let's get a little more detail on you. We know you're married, but do you have kids?
WG: Walter has a beautiful daughter, Lauren, who is 19.
JC: You seem to like you work here at the hospital, but if you could do anything, what would it be?
WG: I have a list…archeologist, geologist, volcanologist, meteorologist (in the field, not TV), forensic scientist, or National Geographic photographer. I love research.
JC: Me too. History is so much more fun than people give it credit. And speaking of history, how did you get into photography?
WG: I've been interested in photography since I was very young, but didn't devote any serious time to it until a few years ago. It was after the purchase of my Canon Rebel EOS XSi that the obsession grew. Photography is kind of a natural extension of my career choice too.
JC: I can see the similarity between sonos, X-rays, and photography. In fact, I remember reading about X-ray photography in a recent issue of National Geographic. If you could go anywhere in the world to take the picture of a lifetime, where would it be and what would it be of?
WG: The Galapagos Islands and hopefully photograph a beautiful creature not yet known to man.
JC: So, tell me honestly, just between the two of us, how much did you have to pay JonMikal for your four awards?
WG: An undisclosed amount that he can live off of comfortably for the rest of his life!! (He wishes!)
JC: Seriously, though, which of your 4 award-winning images do you like the most?
WG: I think I am still most partial to the first one. Trudy is the second oldest gorilla in North America at 54. I've always had a fascination with gorillas and chimps.
JC: What's your favorite thing to take pictures of?
WG: Landscape and architecture for the beauty. And animals for the challenge!
JC: Beside photography, what other hobbies do you indulge in?
WG: Reading, horses, hiking.
JC: And which is your favorite?
WG: Reading is probably my most favorite besides photography…goes back to the research thing. I enjoy reading about my interests rather than novels.
JC: So, sticking with the written word for a moment, if you wrote a book, what would the title and subject be?
WG: It would probably encompass my obsessions around photography—landscapes, churches, barns, outhouses, dilapidated houses, turn of the century homes, cemeteries, etc. It would include tidbits of little known history about each place. A title escapes me. That would be the hardest part of the book.
JC: I would think finding tidbits of little known history about outhouses would be the hardest part of the book. So tell us, which do you prefer, email or snail mail?
JC: Social media or just social?
WG: I'm on Facebook, but you just can't replace face to face.
JC: Mac or PC?
JC: Digital or film?
JC: HD or standard?
JC: Cable or rabbit ears?
WG: CABLE! Never so glad to see the ears go away…
JC: Beer or wine?
JC: Skirt/dress or pants/slacks?
JC: Rings or necklaces?
JC: Couch or sofa?
JC: Art or science?
WG: Hmmm…I like using both sides of my brain.
JC: Now or later?
WG: I confess: later.
JC: Beard or mustache?
JC: Back or shoulders?
JC: Long hair or short?
WG: Long hair on both men and women when it's taken care of.
JC: Stick or automatic?
WG: Sticks are so much more fun!
JC: Shoes or sandals?
JC: Day or night?
JC: Baseball or football?
JC: If, God forbid, you should disappear off the face of the Earth right now, what would you hope people most remember you for?
JC: What's your fantasy vacation?
JC: Sticking with fantasies for a moment, if you could invite anyone (alive or dead, real or fictional) to dinner, who would it be?
JC: Where would you meet Twain?
WG: On a river boat on the Mississippi.
JC: And you would serve…?
WG: Steak, cornbread, and fresh vegetables…his favorites
JC: Who is your biggest hero?
WG: Anyone who puts his or her life on the line for others. Those who have provided our freedom and those who still fight to defend it.
JC: Nicely said, especially since it's still November, the month of Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. OK, switching from being thankful to being evil, If you could ban anyone on YPF, who would it be and why?
WG: Anyone that gives degrading comments on images in the guise of "constructive criticism." I've had critiques on my images, but no one here has ever been anything but encouraging and insightful.
JC: What do you feel you still most need to learn about photography?
WG: Portraiture, lighting, and proper technique.
JC: You've been on YPF for a number of years now, who's work would you say has progressed the most over the years?
WG: Hmmm, perhaps Old Fire Guy. He has really honed his skills, and as Judy says, he "really tells a story" with his images. Particularly his images of people. He truly captures the essence of the person and breathes life into the still image.
JC: What's your best piece of advice about life in general?
WG: Pick your battles. Some things are better left undone or unsaid.
JC: And finally, what's your best piece of advice about photography?
WG: Strive to learn new things and try to see things from a different perspective.
It was starting to get cold in the courtyard, and I could see the neon lights starting to come on in the windows facing into the little yard. Day was turning quickly into evening, and a new crew of doctors and nurses were taking up stations in the hospital as the day shift transitioned into the night shift. Waltdsgirl and I headed back through the corridors, making our way to the main entrance. When we got to the parking lot, we said our good-byes. I watched as her red taillights faded from view; she was heading back to her husband and her home. I turned to my rental and headed to the airport, destination unknown.