Why I want to be Autumn De Wilde when I grow up

Jan 14, 2012 by

Why I want to be Autumn De Wilde when I grow up

For the majority of early childhood, I knew who I wanted to be when I grew up: Snow White, of course. I had planned my future of adulthood to take place in an idyllic cottage, spending my afternoons singing in the middle of a forest while little birds landed on my hand. Writing it out, I still see few flaws in this plan. [The few flaws being my lack of a local forest, threats of bird flu and the fact that I am remarkably close in height to the seven dwarfs.]

Other career possibilities following this were: zookeeper, Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, and legendary rock star. We’re up to about age twelve here.

Although I believe my frame of mind is not much more realistic or practical than it was back then, I did settle; I want to be Autumn DeWilde when I grow up.

I followed the work of Autumn DeWilde mostly through library copies of Spin magazine, as well as an afternoon of my boyfriend showing me his copy of Elliott Smith in his studio. Last Christmas, I bought him a copy of Autumn’s then-latest release, Death Cab for Cutie; I was not only in admiration of her photographs themselves, but that she was one of the few notable photographers I was seeing use 35mm film, as well as other ‘vintage’ mediums. [I learned photography through my dad’s 1970s Nikon, and only within the past year took the leap to digital.] And, to our luck, Autumn was making an appearance in Silverlake that February.

After swinging a stay at our friend’s apartment in North Hollywood and a meal of french fries at a sketchy El Pollo Loco, we were in line at the classy coffee shop, Intelligentsia, within feet of Autumn DeWilde.

Autumn DeWilde is beyond great. She was incredibly nice about me excitedly blurting, “You’re my hero,” and although the signing itself went quickly, the excitement lasted…well, I’m still excited about it, to this very minute, almost a year later.
Ideally, I would like to see myself making a living by sitting backstage, on a bus, or in front of a brightly colored brick wall, taking portraits with my small camera collection, intermittently taking notes of the conversations between myself and my subjects. Maybe one day even Autumn and I could have a casual afternoon of photographing a mutually admired musical group together before a sold-out show, and in-between shots we could share our shutter speeds.

I could write about this for days. The main bullet point to take away from all of this is that I have a deep appreciation for DeWilde’s work, and that I feel I have come incredibly close to moments of reaching that level of *insert synonym of choice for ‘awesome’*, but that I have a long way to go. It’s a ride I’m thrilled to be on, though, and I have no regrets choosing it over being Snow White.

Autumn DeWilde, Conor Oberst, and this cake, all at a hotel within 40 miles of my house. So close to greatness, yet so far.

Above photo by Autumn De Wilde

All other photos by Alexandra Wallace

Related Posts

Share This

1 Comment

  1. Dear Alexandra; I have morphed in my dreams through the years very much like you. However, being 80 years old now, I remember my dream at age six was to be Tom Mix and ride my pony into the slayers of the sheriff and good guy as an avenging angel. My dream pony was based on the black and white midget horse that traveling photographer used when my mom paid 25 cents for a picture of me as a cowboy. I doubt that you had one taken like that, it seemed to go out of style in the ’60’s. My point, however, is that we share some of the same goals in life. You wishing to achieve Autumn De Wilde’s abilities and me wishing to achieve the writing abilities of a John Steinbeck (I always say, if you’re going to dream, DREAM BIG!). The big difference between us is that you are at the beginning of your life as a photographer and I am nearing the end of my life as a writer, hell as anything. I have just published my first novel (nowhere near Steinbeck) with five more in the hopper. I was thinking perhaps we should meld our dreams, you take pictures of an 80 year old dreamer and me looking like the sage chronicler of his times (from the Great Depression to today with all kinds of wild and weird experiences along the way). If my idea percolates some interest in you, I live just across the San Gabriel Mountains from Hollywood and am available any time you have a minute or two. John W. Strobel III
    P. S. That’s a picture of my novel on the left…JWSIII