As Others See Her


November 7, 2002

Ostapeck to present picture of her work

By Kelly Bruni
Staff Writer
CoopersTown Crier ©2000-2003

Fly Creek photographer Lady Ostapeck remembers when she first became interested in photography. She was 2-years-old, lying in her crib, when her uncle was trying to get her to look at him. But her eyes were so mesmerized by a photograph on the wall, she would not look at him.

“And I’ve been looking at pictures ever since,”said Ostapeck.

Area residents will have an opportunity to hear Ostapeck talk about her “portraits of fantasy” at the next Friends of Library series held on Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the village meeting room below the library.

“We are very excited to have her as a quest speaker. She is a community treasure,” said Stephanie Bauer, Friends of the Library board member and program chairperson. “People should be aware of her work.”

Ostapeck’s studio is the creative home to portraits where local residents dress up as if from another time period. She could take straight forward photos like many other photographers do, but Ostapeck prefers doing it her own unique way, she said.

Ostapeck gets to know her subjects by asking what their first memory was as a child, what nationality they are and what time period they wish they could live in. The conversation helps with the design and setting of the portrait, said Ostapeck. “Some people know what they want to be, and some don’t.”

Ostapeck enjoys creating portraits of people in the attire of the 1920s. A few people have chosen to be from the 1930s, including an excellent Jean Harlow look-alike, said Ostapeck.

Ostapeck doesn’t have any schooling as a photographer. “I make sure I don’t learn a lot about photography. I do work intuitively. We all have [intuition], but we reject it,” she said.

In a recent tour of Ostapeck’s studio, Ostapeck offered advice to a group of photographers. “If you haven’t much money, don’t just sit there. You must depend on your intuition. Everything I use is second hand. Even my camera is 100 years old with a broken shutter.“ She found the 4 x 5 studio view camera at the Salvation Army.

The Friends of the Library consider it an honor for Ostapeck to be speaking, said Bauer. Her work has been exhibited in galleries across the country and in Finland, Ireland, and with the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain. For her show in Ireland, she said she brought a collection of pictures of anyone with Irish descent from this area.

She has also been featured in professional photography magazines such as Rangefinder, Modern Photography, and Popular Photography.

Ostapeck was born in Brooklyn, NY As an adult, Ostapeck worked as a negative retoucher. She said it’s the secret of her photography now. Sometimes light may throw unwanted shadows on faces, so Ostapeck uses her past work experience to remedy the problem.

Ostapeck became tired of the stress and strain of New York and had always dreamed of living in the country. She placed an ad in the Rural New Yorker for: Lady with a horse wants country place. She received over 120 responses. One response was from Fly Creek, where she now lives.

”Beware what you fantasize, it comes true,” she said.