Sandra Louise Dyas Photography


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Stephen Shore - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Lecture, 2012

Stephen Shore: "The Five Things That Changed My Life"

Lecture at the San Francisco Museum of Art, 2012

Monday, August 19, 2013

Don, Owner of the Modern Barber Shop, Burlington, Iowa - Center for Photography, Fort Collins, CO

"Don, Owner of The Modern Barber Shop, Burlington, Iowa" was just selected by juror Barbara Tanenbaum for an exhibition in Fort Collins, CO at the Center for Fine Art Photography. She selected this photograph as a Juror's Honorable Mention in addition to it being exhibited. 50 photographs were selected for "IDentity". (click on Identity for online viewing of work)

New York Center for Photography, Rural Impressions - Aline Smithson, Juror

"Tammy Walker's Barber Shop, Keokuk, Iowa" was selected for Honorable Mention by ALINE SMITHSON, Juror for Rural Impressions 2013, Exhibition of photographs at New York Center for Photographic Art.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Half-a-Wind - YOKO ONO - on occasion of her 80th Birthday

Happy 80th Birthday to an Inspiring Artist - YOKO ONO.

We traveled by train north of Copenhagen to a beautiful art museum called the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. My friend Lene Wyke and I enjoyed ourselves in their sculpture garden as well as seeing Yoko Ono's Half-a-Wind show and Tara Donavan's exhibition. As my friend Katie Roche described Yoko's work -" I love Yoko. Her retrospective at The Japan Society in in NYV (2002?) was incredible. Her work is participatory and democratic, very emotional and systematic. Her glass maze, all white chess board, phone piece and hair brush piece entered my lyrical memory and affect me still today."

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

L E N S C R A T C H -- Backyard Exhibition

Aline Smithson has one of the coolest blogs - and she has a brand new Exhibition up called BACKYARD. Check it out - and note that Caroline Louise made it in. This photo has a story attached. She gave me a handmade card and balloon that she drew a picture of me onto. She told me it was the very first balloon she ever tied by herself. Caroline Louise is 9 years old.

Keep going - it is 5 pages long!

Caroline Louise on Mother's Day, near Andrew, Iowa 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Paintings I Admire / Looking for Inspiration

For a few years I have been thinking about my color portraits using a camera. I have been looking at several painters and today I really enjoyed seeing Andrew Wyeth portraits - very photographic.

I also got a birthday card with a painting by Modigliani. I stare at it everyday. It is called Young Woman of the People.

And I have been pretty crazy about Alice Neel's
 portraits as well.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

In the blink of an eye - by Lowell Carlson, published in the Bellevue Herald Leader

In the blink of an eye

Sandra Louise Dyas
Sandra Louise Dyas

Sandra Louise Dyas looks for images that exist for an instant, scenes that disappear with the caprice of cloud cover and people unaffected by her camera.

Dyas, a long-time Bellevue resident, grew up on her parents’ farm northwest of Andrew. The experience of rural and small town life proved invaluable for Dyas, who now makes her home in Iowa City.

After more than 30 years now as a professional photographer, published author and college lecturer, her list of awards and recognitions just keeps growing.

The latest is a first-place award in the Dubuque Museum of Art’s 2013 biennial juried exhibition for “Don, the Modern Barbershop, Burlington, Iowa.” It was one of two works selected for the exhibition

Her freelance work has been published in Vogue, the New York Times, Random House, Newsweek, Redhouse Records, Ecco Press, United Airlines, Simon & Schuster and others.

University of Iowa Press published her “Down to the River: Portraits of Iowa Musicians.” She recently published her second book, “my eyes are not shut.” This latest book, a collection of the people, places and things she holds dear, is a self-published project available at

“Photography is a wonderful medium for exploring the world and expressing ideas I cannot adequately say with words. I use a camera because it is a direct tool that allows me access into other people’s lives.”

That was Dyas explaining what she looked for during the 2009 year-long 50 States Project. Dyas, along with 49 other photographers across the United States, recorded images of people, even the “American dream,” in this unique undertaking.

The journey to her most recent benchmark recognition includes an early career as a portrait photographer. Dyas estimates she has also photographed over 600 weddings over a 30-year span. The entire profession was changing, and Dyas was changing as well.

“Digital photography has changed the professional photography world. It is radically different from what it was when I was in Bellevue in the 1980s. At the time I had my business, 1976-1987, things were already changing technically. People were buying very nice single lens reflex automatic cameras that could take excellent quality photos. Prior to this most people used very simple “instamatic” point-and-shoot type cameras which were incapable of making decent quality photographs,” remembers Dyas.

Dyas was gaining attention for her striking images in part because of her technical skill and because the medium-format camera she used produced a negative almost four times larger than a 35mm camera negative. The quality was eminently superior, but the cat was out of the bag. Digital cameras were beginning to invade the consumer market and they were getting better and cheaper all the time.

The Jackson County native says the transition to digital images wasn’t without its frustrations. “At first quality was poor, but we all know this has vastly changed. Pricing had to be restructured.”

Today, her “go to” camera is a Nikon D300s for those readers who want to know equipment preferences. Dyas still uses some film, but very little. “I love Holga cameras. They are toy medium-format cameras that use film. I am teaching a class of Cornell students how to use them right now.”

To show how far we are into the digital revolution, Dyas said her recent students have little or now understanding of how to use a film camera now. “The funniest thing I heard yesterday was ‘why do we need paper?’ They do not understand loading film into a canister. People no longer have these physical skills because everything is done with a mouse or a touch of a finger to a screen.”

Dyas earned her master of fine arts in 1998 at University of Iowa and relocated to Iowa City where she continues to reside. She has been a lecturer in the Cornell art and art history department for the last 15 years. She has been able to combine two passions, photography and mentoring young people with her position at Cornell.

“I love teaching. I love being an artist. It goes hand-in-hand with teaching,” notes Dyas, admitting that there have been sacrifices financially. “I really think (teaching) is good for my soul. I mean my life and my art and my work are all one.”

Her search for images that have meaning and insight has also turned Dyas into something of a champion of Iowa and Iowans. Through the years her images have delved ever-deeper into what it means to live here, on the land, in small towns, in the context of our relationships with friends, neighbors and family. Her images are the conversations we always meant to have with the people we care about.

The future of photography in many ways is its past. The prospect of change is absolute, yet the very reason for it remains the same. Capturing images that create emotion, that move us—those goals are enduring. Dyas is also passionate as a mentor to students, encouraging them to use photography to see what is in front, and behind, the viewfinder.

“My advice to anyone is just do what you love. That is what you will be your best at. There is so little money in teaching, but I know I excel in it. It mostly makes me excited about living, except when I get worn down from all of the energy I use to teach. Students give you so much back. My Uncle Bob told me years ago that we owe it to ourselves to become who we were meant to be. This stuck with me and still does. Of course, he is a very wise man and also a professor emeritus from Iowa State University in landscape architecture.”

Most recently, she was selected to teach a photography class for the Prague Summer Program. She looks forward to upcoming summer travels in Europe, camera in hand.

Her Uncle Bob would approve, no doubt.

Monday, April 22, 2013

ENGLERT AT 100: Photographs of Sandra Louise Dyas

Veteran photographer Sandy Dyas spent a year at The Englert Theatre documenting the inner workings of downtown Iowa City’s pillar presenting arts organization, displaying the resulting works in "Englert at 100: Photographs of Sandra Louise Dyas." The exhibit is on display at the Englert's Douglas and Linda Paul Gallery from April 2-April 30, with a closing reception and art sale on Friday, April 26th from 5:00 to 8:00 PM. During the entirety of the exhibit and the closing art sale, patrons are invited to purchase any of Sandy’s 28 custom-framed prints. Due to generous support from the artist, all proceeds from the sale of this work will be donated to support the Englert’s continued mission.


Closing Reception on April 26, 2013 - 5pm - 8pm at the Englert Theater - Upstairs in the Gallery
    Bradford Highnam, Brooks Strause and the Gory Details

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Recently I was asked if I wanted to participate in Stuart's newest online portrait project called SOMEONE I KNOW. It is with great enthusiasm and honor I did so. This is a wonderful collection of photographs and equally wonderful is the selection of artists. Lucky to be hanging out with these folks!

Thank you Tom & Sue for your time and energy! Sue Becker has a new website too! Her website is BECKERVIEW STUDIO.

Tom Becker and Ace at the Sugar Shack, near Bellevue, Iowa 2013


The TOAD JOURNAL has featured some of my photographs on their site. Thank you Karl Peterson for inviting me to submit my work and to be part of this FUN and inspiring journal. 


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

1st Place in the Dubuque Art Museum's 2013 Biennial!

Don, The Modern Barber Shop, Burlington, Iowa wins 1st Place in the Dubuque Museum of Art's 4th Biennial! Two of my photographs are in the show. I will be driving up to Dubuque Land shortly to view the exhibition. 47 Artists and 50 pieces of art from the Midwest were selected by Mr. James Welu, Director Emeritus of the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The show opened on April 5th and runs through July 21st, 2013.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Englert Theater at 100

My granddaughter Caroline Louise and I spent the day at the Englert shooting pictures of the PINES and MASON JENNINGS last year. 

Self-portrait: Sandra Dyas with her granddaughter Caroline Louise in the Englert Green Room.
The Englert Theatre in Iowa City celebrates it first century with the exhibit “Englert at 100: Photographs of Sandra Louise Dyas.” A free opening reception and artist talk will be held in the Douglas & Linda Paul Gallery on the 2nd floor of the Englert Theatre on Friday, April 5, from 5 to 7 p.m. as part of the Mission Creek Festival 2013. Sandra Dyas will talk about her methods and work at 5:30 p.m. and refreshments will be served at 6 p.m.
It is no surprise that Sandra, a veteran photographer and lecturer at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, was asked to document a year at the Englert in photographs. Dyas has been using her camera to photograph the Iowa City music scene since she moved to the area in 1987. In 2007 University of Iowa Press published Down to the River; Portraits of Iowa Musicians, a compelling collection of 60 photographs of Iowa City musicians and their performances.
As the Englert’s Artist in Residence, Sandra spent 2012 capturing all the exciting on- and off-stage action of the Englert’s 99th year in thousands of photographs. Twenty-eight of the best photographs have been framed and a slide show of hundreds more will be on display during the reception. The exhibit brings to life the historic theater, capturing the staff who make it all happen, moments in the green room, and the performers who grace the Englert’s stage, including Mission Creek Festival 2012 artists such as the Magnetic Fields, Caroline Smith, and Seun Kuti.
“Englert at 100: Photographs of Sandra Louise Dyas” runs April 2 through 30. An auction and closing reception will be held on Friday, April 26, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Englert at 100 - Photographs of Sandra Louise Dyas

I am so happy about the exhibition at the Englert Theatre - the reception was a smashing success. Tommie mentioned that to me today - that it seemed like it was "smashing" from the photos and it was. I must say it was a really special night. Nothing would be what it is or what it was without my friends - the ones I have known for years and my more recently found friends. My family and my friends - the Englert, a new family!

I hope you will take a few minutes out of your day to look at the 28 photographs we chose to print, matte and frame. It was difficult to say the least to edit down to that few of images to print. I spent an entire year photographing! It was the first time ever to do such a project. A real community project at the wonderful Englert Theatre. It was a special year - their Centennial Year. I am so honored to have been chosen to photograph the events and people involved. The staff and the directors at the Englert are exemplary. Top notch in every way. I looked forward to being at the theatre for so many reasons, one of which was the wonderful people who work there. Thank you to everyone who helped make this residency possible. Thank you to Nick Hotek at Hudson River Gallery and thank you to Dawn Harbor of Glass Harbor for all of your hard work and dedication!

The exhibition of color photographs is accompanied by a hundreds more images you may view on a tv with music. IF you missed the OPENING reception - there will be a CLOSING reception on April 26th. All work is for sale! Please support the Englert!!! All proceeds from the sale of photographs goes to the Englert Theatre.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013


"SOMEONE I KNOW" by STUART PILKINGTON. My portrait of TOM BECKER is part of this wonderful project. 

I am very happy to be part of this imaginative and creative group of photographers. Thank you
Stuart for inviting me to participate. Please spend some time LOOKING.

Friday, March 29, 2013


A LETTER FROM KATIE ROCHE, Development Director of the Englert

Dear Friends,

Last year the Englert commissioned Sandy Dyas to document the theater in our 100th year.  Her work will be up early next week in the Douglas and Linda Paul Gallery (Englert, 2nd floor) and I wanted to invite you to come to the closing reception and art auction finale on April 26, from 5-8 pm.  All of the work in the gallery will be available in exchange for a donation to the theater.  You will also have a chance to hear Sandy talk about her method and work on Friday, April 5th (5-7pm) as part of the Mission Creek Festival.  Plus, at that event, there will be complimentary vittles from Clinton Street Social Club to munch on!  

Sandy did a magnificent job of capturing the theater in every aspect, from my excellent co-workers making shows happen to intriguing performance and green room photos. I hope you can join me for these events - in my natural habitat  - at the Englert! 

I've attached the official invite for the event on the 28th- please let me know if you can make it.

Best regards,
Katie Roche
Development Director at The Englert Theatre
Member of Association of Fundraising Professionals

Board Member of Iowa Shares
Musician with Awful Purdies

Monday, March 18, 2013

This JULY I have been invited to teach PHOTOGRAPHY in PRAGUE. Please consider signing up for the workshops. The Prague Summer Program is a unique program that offers classes in Jewish Studies, Creative Writing, Literature, Photography and Yoga. This is the program's 20th Anniversary. 

PIVO is the PSP's blog and I am being "spotlighted" (interview) as a guest faculty member. You can sign up for college credit and it can be transferred to Cornell College (where I teach) or to your college of choice. 

You need a good digital camera and a laptop for editing. There will be beginning and advanced classes in Photography. Jan Pohribny, a well-known and prestigious artist from the CZ will be teaching photography too. 

There will be studio visits to photographers living in the area...and I am very excited that we will all have the experience of meeting Jindrich Streit.   

You need not have an art background, just an interest in learning about the art of photography. This exciting opportunity is for anyone up for a wonderful opportunity to enjoy art and life in the beautiful city of Prague.

Black and White Silver Gelatin photographs were taken in the Czech Republic when I was there for my first time in 2002 - they were hand-printed in 2003. Cornell College awarded me a McConnell Travel Grant and I spent three weeks photographing Prague and several small villages nearby. (c) Sandra L. Dyas