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Playboy Photographer Stephen Wayda Has Dream Job - page 2

By Jessamyn Cuneo on March 31, 2007

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Interviewing people and writing hard news wasn't quite as creative a gig as Wayda desired. His grandfather left him a set of cameras when he passed away, which Wayda used to photograph his girlfriend at the time.

"With the cameras, I learned how to take pictures, and I started taking pictures for the newspaper articles," Wayda reminisces. "Anything from a picture of a freak tornado that came into town, to a 3 a.m. murder scene. I shot guys on Death Row, and county commissioners. I even have pictures of Nixon when he came to visit."

Wayda worked odd hours for the newspaper. He had a friend who offered to let him use his studio space to take more photographs of women, so Wayda found himself practicing photography more and more.

"It was a way for a guy who didn't have great looks or great money to meet a lot of girls; by taking pictures," Wayda says. "So that worked well for me for quite a while."

On an innovative whim, Wayda then broke new ground in the world of photography, which proved to be the break-in for his career taking pictures.

"Reproduction in newspapers was questionable for photographs at the time," Wayda says. "So, I came up with a method of getting the photograph to reproduce."

After developing this method to print photographs in the paper, Wayda took his invention and brought it to the biggest department store in the area, owned by the Mormon Church, called ZCMI. They immediately took to the idea, and he began shooting catalogues and advertisements for them.

"Eventually the newspaper said I had to choose between the two," Wayda says. "I chose photography."Arnold Schwarzenegger, pictures, picture, photos, photo, pics, pic, images, image, Stephen Wayda

Through this job came plenty of models. Wayda was living "the life" in Utah, living in the mountains and skiing all the time that he wasn't shooting for different local clients. He met a man named Dwight Hooker, who'd recently retired from being a photographer for Playboy, but was still shooting for them occasionally. Hooker told Wayda that if he could provide him with models, that he'd allow Wayda to come along to the shoots.

"[Hooker] was great. He was like the professor," Wayda recalls. "He was my champion, in the sense that he would always talk to me, and spend a lot of time with me. He didn't think that I would really make it, though. He put in the time because I was interested."

With Hooker's influence, Wayda began taking Playboy-style photographs and submitting them to Playboy. He got rejected often in the beginning, until Playboy's West Coast Photo Editor Marilyn Grabowski decided to give Wayda the chance he was persistently asking for.

"Marilyn gave me opportunities to succeed and fail, but each time I failed, she gave me another chance," Wayda says. "I persevered, because it was a way that I saw that I could live in Utah and still be a photographer."