Skip to main content
“These pictures that Helen had taken revealed to me who I could be, and I knew I should try for the rest of my life to be what she saw.”Sybil's choice of cover photo for Volume I, as thinker and writer.Sybil Shearer, Without Wings the Way Is Steep, Vol I

Sybil Shearer

Sybil’s archives include very few photographs from her college years and her early New York career. In 1943, Helen Balfour Morrison photographed her not long after they met. When Helen’s friend, Maude Slye, later asked, “Well, are you going to spend the rest of your life photographing this dancing girl?” Helen replied, “It’s possible.”

By 1949 Sybil was refusing other photographers, replying to a telegram from Vogue magazine asking to send theirs, “Helen Balfour Morrison is my photographer.” Sybil also refused to be photographed in performance. Fortunately, Helen continued taking pictures of Sybil elsewhere and in later years made many photographs of Sybil dancing in costume in her studio and outdoors. And she made hundreds of photos of Sybil in everday life wih her dogs and with friends.Thus all the photos in this collection were taken by Helen, except for early photos of Sybil and her family.

These photos are at the Newberry Library in Chicago.