Published on October 27th, 2012 | by Dr. Richard Martorano0
Barbara Simmons – Superstar in the Photography Industry
A Photographer Doing What She Wishes
“An authority is someone from out of town.” That is most ubiquitous in the performing, creative and visual arts. Musicians that work for nothing in their hometown are paid extraordinary fees when they travel. Actresses and actors who work in Community Theater for nothing are paid equity rates when they are out of town. Photographers who shoot weddings, portraits and family pets for nominal fees are paid very well for their original and innovative efforts by those living out of town affectionate to their work.
There are local musicians, dancers, singers, photographers, artists, novelists and editorial cartoonist who choose to live in Central Florida that have regional and national credentials and reputation. Why is it someone can have an exemplary career at a business and choose to retire in Southeast Volusia and be recognized and celebrated for their success and reputation? As an artesian, it is sometimes thought if you are in residence in this area, you are either a “wanna be” or “used to be.” It could be that player just made $5,000 doing a date in Chattanooga, Tennessee but because he lives locally he is paid accordingly. What does all of this have to do with my Volusia Superstar? Read on.
Over the last 20 years there has been a trio of resident artisans who are bonded at the hip romantically, professionally and creatively. I speak of photographer Barbara Simmons, guitarist Brad Sayre and bassist David Simmons. You know Brad and David as the innovated and award-winning duo AcoustiCon. You may not recognize the name of Barbara Simmons but there is a possibility you have seen her photography in various locations and publications in Central Florida or in multimedia creations produced and performed in concert by AcoustiCon.
Barbara (DeMarino) Simmons was born and raised in (Little Italy) South Philadelphia. When she was 18 years old, she answered a knock at her door that would eventually change her life. “Hey Girl, you wanna buy this camera and these two lenses…cheap.” She bought them for $50.
She took business courses in High School, worked secretarial jobs and went to The South Jersey School of Bartending. She began bartending at a successful rock club and became interested in becoming a booking agent.
She stumbled upon New Smyrna Beach, Florida in the early 80′s and fell in love with its ambiances. She relocated here and created “RockBound Entertainment Co.” a rock booking agency where for eight year she promoted and booked rock bands.
One of the bands on her roster featured guitarist, Brad Sayre. Brad was a side man with Melanie, Dr. Hook, featuring Ray Sawyer and Danny Joe Brown of Molly Hatchet fame. She met and married bassist David Simmons and together became owners of Frozen Gold Ice Cream Shoppe, a New Smyrna Beach tradition on Highway 44.
Always having an interest in black and white photography and having used her photography for event and artist promotions in her booking business, she decided to take Continuing Education photography classes at DBCC.
PerHans Romnes, a teacher at DBCC, recognized something special in her work and began to help her sharpen her skills at hand coloring black and white photography. She later moved into the art of infrared images. Because of their ownership in Frozen Gold, Barbara was fortunate in not having to do a lot of grunt work for income that most commercial photographers have to do.
She began to be recognized as a style emerged. The next few years were spent doing gallery exhibits and the Central Florida art show circuit, winning numerous awards for the uniqueness of her photography. She was hired by famous author and Native American horse trainer, GaWaNa PonyBoy, to do a series of promotional work for his magazine, t-shirts and screensaver art.
From this point on it’s going to be hard separating Barbara’s photography from a relationship with David and Brad. For 12 years Barbara’s images became an integral part in the development of AcoustiCo’s multimedia live performance show, leading to national tours in Performing Arts Centers and Theatres across the country.
The band, with Barbara’s photography, was beginning to garner national attention and was playing dates at major universities and venues throughout the country. When the economy began to tank, millions of dollars of federal funding were lost. AcoustiCon was relegated back to doing club dates which were not part of the repertoire or choosing. In other Volusia County Superstars profiles I will write of David Simmons and Brad Sayre and their contribution to national music scene.
Time and things changed. AcoustiCon disbanded and so did Barbara’s marriage.
Back to Barbara: Having at this point in her career specializing in black and white and infrared film photography with a standard dark room, Barbara moved into the digital age using state of the art digital scanners, Photoshop and customized digital infrared camera technology.
She signed an exclusive licensing and publishing contract for worldwide distribution of her work with McGraw Publishing Company and has recently collaborated with author Charles Bechtel in the soon to be released poetry/photo art book entitled “Inevitable.”
Quoting from Barbara’s introduction of on her web page:
“For me, the camera is merely an extension of myself used to collect what I see and feel. From traditional hand coloring techniques, the textural richness of infrared film, to modern digital methods… all are an important part of the craft that I have honed over time. However, the magic of my art truly lies within the moment; a moment of perfect clarity, of quiet innocence from which I view the world. My images have been described as ethereal and mystical…”evoking and bringing a sense of beauty and meditation into our turbulent world”
I will let you know when Barbara’s book is published. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy, the photography is truly beautiful. Check out Barbara’s beautiful work on her webpage at www.bsimmonsphoto.net. Her email address is Barbara@bsimmonsphoto.net. Tell her you read about her on nsbObserver.com.