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  • Writer's pictureAmy Traweek

Photographic Memories: Cecy (Ayala) Holubec Photo Restoration(s)

Updated: Mar 6

hispanic cancer patient

On this special episode, I sat down with a very good friend of mine, of almost a decade, Cecy (Ayala) Holubec to discuss the two photos she has of her late father.

Back when our friendship first began, one of the things that formed an instant connection between us was the fact that we shared a very similar origin story. We both had lost a parent very early in life, before we were old enough to form any memories of them - meaning, photos have served as our only connection to one of our parents. Because of this, each of us learned very early, the importance of photography and fell in love with it as an artform.

While we ended up in very different fields of the photographic industry, the root of our passion, remains the same. For Cecy, she decided to specialize in portraiture of newborns, children & families, whereas I decided to dedicate my skills towards photo restorations, digitization, portraits of aging adults & generations of families.

Cecy had originally started her career, photographing weddings, and also as a contracted photographer at a local hospital, photographing newborns on-site. Something just didn't feel right though, and she found herself looking for a "sign" as to what she was meant to do with her life. In an unexpected moment, that sign happened to come after she saw a commercial for a law firm that advertised their business with something like, "call: 1 (800) LAWFIRM" out of curiosity, she googled "What does my phone number spell?" and she quickly got her answer. Her phone number spelled, "(254) 548-BABY"; that, it turns out, was the sign she had needed...and the rest is history. Cecy is now the #1 newborn photographer in Waco, for many years running now. Her work truly speaks for itself and you can check her out, here:

For a time, after the pandemic, when I had shut down my store-front, Cecy was generous enough to let me share a studio space with her, to meet my restoration clients. On her desk, was a shadow-box that contained the only two (original) photos that she had of her dad. One of the photos was of him, in the hospital, walking while hooked up to an IV bag and the other, was of her mom & dad when they got married. I kept looking at them and just decided to take it upon myself to remove them from the frame, scan and restore them. The photos were in good shape, just a bit discolored from age, so the restoration work itself wasn't anything super impressive as far as restorations for my portfolio go, but the important thing was - they were now digitized so that if anything were to happen to the originals, she would at least have a digital backup that could be reprinted.

I emailed the restored digital photos to her and she was of course, surprised and very happy. Cecy has been such a wonderful friend to me over the years, and doing this was just something that had been pulling on my heartstrings, since I had first seen the shadow-box in her office, years before. While this podcast episode was a bit different from the typical concept of sharing the stories behind the photos - because she has no memories of her dad to share per se, I felt this was a collaboration that was important because it tells the story of how Cecy was inspired to dedicate her life to making photographic memories for others, as well as prioritizing photo prints with her own family.

1970s hispanic couple wedding photo

Cecy's mother, has always been an avid gardener since I've known them and has created beautiful landscaping work around Cecy's property. Even with a language barrier (her speaking Spanish almost exclusively and me, speaking very minimal Spanish), I've enjoyed getting to know her. Unfortunately, she had a CVA (cerbro-vascular accident) that almost cost her, her life a few years back - and since then, has almost fully recovered, with the exception of her memory not having been restored. It's been such a hard transition and I've watched as Cecy has transitioned into being her mother's full-time care-giver. Seeing our loved ones lose their memory function, is a stark reminder that photos are so important. Slowly but surely, her mom has been able to put names to faces by looking at photographs in their home, repeatedly and being told who the people in the images are - and that, it truly priceless.

On a lighter note, Cecy and I realized during the podcast recording, that in a way, we actually do the opposite in regard to our businesses; I primarily take printed photographs and digitize them, whereas she takes digital photographs and prints them. However, we both value quality photographic prints above all else. We use only high-end, professional labs for archival-quality prints and preach the importance of protecting them through proper framing, storing and displaying.

I'm both saddened and grateful for the similar back-stories that Cecy & I have, but I am forever grateful that it led to both of us discovering our purpose and pursuing our passions as our life's work, but most importantly, for our close friendship.

-Amy Traweek

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