“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 Shearer, Without Wings the Way Is Steep, Vol I

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, poet and cancer researcher at the University of Chicago, 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. She also made hundreds of photos of Sybil in everyday life with her dogs and with friends. Thus all the photos in this collection were taken by Helen, except for photos of Sybil and her family in the early years.