HUDSON — From the first moment of doubt, Veronica Cass Weiss found her focus.
She always had a light, creative spirit. She saw color vividly. As a little girl, she dreamed of going to art school, but the economy was in shambles. Art, her family said, was impractical.
"Mom would never have taken on the thought of, 'I'll show them,' " said her daughter, Marilynn deChant, a New Port Richey City Council member. "She would have just been compelled at that moment to say, 'I can do this. I know I can.' "
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Mrs. Weiss, an artist and innovator in the field of photo retouching, died Oct. 25 after a long battle with dementia. She was 81.
What she missed at fancy art college, she made up for with imagination and confidence.
In Michigan in the 1960s, she answered phones and retouched photos at a studio. At the time, photography was moving to color. At work, she perfected a signature technique — old-fashioned, artistic, detailed. She used carefully mixed colors and a sable brush to bring new life to delicate negatives.
Under her instruction, people learned easily.
"Everybody loved her," said her daughter. "She was like Holly Golightly. She was a person who didn't really sweat the small stuff and just kind of lived lightly, and she didn't really worry."
She earned certifications and degrees in her field. In the 1970s, Eastman Kodak named her a great woman in photography, her family said.
In 1975, Mrs. Weiss moved to Hudson with her first husband. She carried a piece of paper with her, a drawing of a wild dream sketched from her head.
She would open a school.
"I said, 'Oh that's nice,' like a kid does," said her daughter. "But I watched her literally do everything she said she was going to do."
That year, she opened the Veronica Cass Academy of Photographic Arts in Hudson. Until her early 70s, Mrs. Weiss bestowed her methods on others. She wrote several books, too, including the popular Retouching from Start to Finish.
In her free time, she painted landscapes and flowers. She traveled with her second husband, Heinz Weiss. She put on a happy face when digital photography began to make her speciality obsolete. But she knew the reality.
If you look, you'll find snippets of Mrs. Weiss on the Internet — book reviews and comments from people who know the reality, too.
This is a great book on traditional retouching. If you are looking for Photoshop techniques, this is not the book for you. (Mrs. Weiss) is one of the best there ever was.
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8857.