Shirlie Alice Montgomery • June 9, 1918 – Nov 5, 2012

Shirlie always had her camera handy.
Shirlie Alice Montgomery was born on Chapman Street in San Jose on June 9, 1918. She was an only child. To her friends and neighbors she was a treasure trove of history. Shirlie remembered it all. She remembered the Great Depression as a child, the Second World War as a young woman, and eventually the transformation of the Santa Clara Valley from a moderately sized agricultural town to the hustle and bustle of modern Silicon Valley. The majority of her memories were supported by the thousands of photographs in her collection.
Young Shirlie Montgomery

Shirlie a few years ago from an article in the Rose Garden Resident.

She was the grandniece of San Jose’s forefather T.S. Montgomery. Shirlie lived a colorful life but professionally she photographed it with a 4X5 Speed Graphic in B&W. She was a celebrated photographer that shot Hollywood stars, U.S. Presidents and pro wrestlers. Although Shirlie did work for the S. F. Examiner and the San Jose Mercury her works remain some of the best representations of pro wrestling from the 40’s thru the 60’s. When asked about her penchant for shooting professional wrestlers she would answer “I always liked the big boys”. Such stories Shirlie had! She passed away quietly on November 5, 2012. She will never be forgotten. God rest her soul.

Obituary written by Shirlie's good friend and neighbor Joe Holt

Friday, August 23, 2013

Take a Photo ... Get it Enlarged!


While Shirlie's archives are full of photographs of her and by her, I found these three that show her at work. Three camera Shirlie is the classic photo of her. But the two with her at the photo enlarger are showing what she actually did after the flash! 

Like so many photographers of her era -- before digital photography and PhotoShop, she would manipulate the image on the negative by coloring out certain areas, cropping the image and even cutting out silhouettes and placing them in different backgrounds. Similarly, she used the tools of the trade to "dodge" the image or intensify the exposure contrast in different areas to create the levels of light and dark she wanted. She also had an array of masks to frame the image in different shapes or to fade out the edges for a softer effect.


These photos are from around 1960 and were taken in her studio on First Street in San Jose.

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