Yesterday I was driving home and the autumn light at sunset illuminated the golden aspen leaves and made them glow. Today I went out and I took some photos from the river up the road from my house. I like the sound of water over rocks. I like to watch the ripples and patterns in the way the current moves. It is meditative for me. The trees are changing and when the wind blows the leaves appear to shimmy and sparkle. It is an illusion of the autumnal colour change. It also is a form of temporal magic because what I saw today will not be the same tomorrow. No more the same than the river whose waters are continuously flowing. My photos don’t come close to the experience of sitting on the rocks and watching the leaves in the wind and the water over the rocks.
Over the weekend while I was at the World Science Fiction Convention, I ascended on the escalator to the fifth floor where the panel discussions were happening. I nervously watched the escalator’s teeth pull together and masticate the air in the gaps between the metal protrusions. I have an admitted irrational nervousness about escalators that was instilled in me by my great grandmother on trips to Hudson’s Department store when I was a small child. I don’t know if Grandma Miller actually ever had any kind of negative experience where the hem of her dress or an errant shoelace was pulled into the escalator jaws of death, but she made me very aware that such things could happen if one were not vigilant upon stepping off of escalators. So I was very absorbed when I hopped off the escalator and at first did not notice that a photo screen and lights had been set up in the corridor of the Palais de Congress. When I did happen to shake off my anxiety over toothy escalators and look up– there was the photographer set up.
I have been photographed a great deal in my life. When I was a younger woman, I was an artists’ model. Most of those experiences were very positive and a few were not. I asked someone passing who was taking photographs and why. The person I asked said that it was Neil Gaiman’s photographer and that he was taking photographs of convention goers. I asked what the photographs were to be used for. The person shrugged and walked on. This made me vaguely nervous and I by passed the photographer.
Later that evening I had the delightful experience of meeting a soft spoken man named Kyle Cassidy. He was the photographer who had set up in the Palais de Congress’ corridor.
He is the same photographer who worked with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer on the series of photos entitled “who killed Amanda Palmer“. He has also done a series of photos entitled “where i write: fantasy & science fiction authors in their creative spaces” and another series entitled “Gun Owners in their Own Homes“.
I asked him about the photographs he was taking in the corridor of convention goers and what he planned to do with the photos. He told me that he was taking a large number of photos of various people and would be picking 30 for a project. He began to show me the portraits he had taken.
They were beautiful. He captured the warmth and beauty of the people whose photographs he had taken. He took his time and worked with many of the convention goers who were exceptionally nervous about having their photo taken. Over the sequence of three or five or seven photographs his subjects gradually became less and less nervous and slowly their selves emerged. I remember what is now many days after several of the photographs because they made such a strong impression on me. There was one of a young woman with red hair that glowed with highlights. Another of a corpulent older man with fragile rosie coloring and a brilliant smile. Yet another of a thin aging man with a grey beard like smoke and piercing eyes that seemed to to see into the impenetrable depths.
I am always in a type of awe of brilliant photographers who have the ability to not merely capture the reality of their subjects, but are also capable of sensitively seeing into the essence of their subjects and giving them life.
Please check out the works of Kyle Cassidy. His website is at www.kylecassidy.com/