The US Postal Service on Monday selected a photograph by Cindy Dyer, a 55-year-old photographer and graphic designer in Alexandria, to become a stamp.
The winning photo, a portrait of a blooming sacred lotus flower taken at Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens in Northeast DC, is the 11th in a series of 16 images to be selected as commemorative stamps for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Dyer took the photo from 12 feet away during a hot summer day, when the flowers were in peak bloom.
This is the tenth image Dyer’s managed to turn into a US Postal Service Forever stamp. In 2014, five of her pictures of ferns got the honor, as well as four water lilies last year, which were also shot at Kenilworth. Half a billion of the lilies (pictured below) were printed, and they sold out in less than a year.
According to a Postal Service spokesperson, only 25 out of 40,000 Forever stamp ideas make the cut each year.
Dyer delights in receiving letter mail stamped with her winning submissions, and appreciates when friends and family flaunt her stamps in Facebook posts. Though she never gets any freebies from the Postal Service, she says she bought enough to have “a little bit of everything for my scrapbook.”
Dyer first got noticed by the Postal Service in 2012 when she hosted a photography show at Green Spring Gardens Park in Alexandria. The wife of USPS Art Director Phil Jordan walked by between her gardening work there, liked Dyer’s images, and brought them to Jordan’s attention.
“I gave him the images, he worked them, and every few months I’d get a little feedback,” she says, “so just when you’re giving up hope that it’ll ever happen, boom! you get a contract a year later. Like gardening, you have to have patience.”
Dyer–an avid blogger–maintains multiple websites (this one complete with some tasteful, ambient piano music) to help her get exposure. By posting constantly and tagging her photos with keywords online, she stirred enough buzz to get her work featured in a Nikon display of gardening photography.
“The moral of the story is, get your work out there,” she says. “Once you get your foot in the door, keep shooting, and have [your photos] at the ready.”
Dyer’s winning photo will be unveiled in a first-day-of-issue ceremony June 2 in New York City.