Monday, July 5, 2010

Things I've Learned from Kyle Cassidy

Photo © Kyle "Sweet Barking Cheese" Cassidy
I started following Kyle "Roswell's Dad" Cassidy just before he realized he was going to adopt the small back and white cat who he had rescued. Someone else I follow on LiveJournal had linked to his LJ and as Kyle wrote about Roswell's surgery and fight for life I knew this was a man who not only loved cats, but could write as well.

Over the years I've kidded him about his "charmed" life.  Kyle doesn't like the term.  Charmed suggests a supernatural influence over what is happening -- the extent of your action is to wave a magic wand and *voila* you're magically the person flying across the country meeting your favorite authors and taking photographs of them in their private writing spaces.

Or, *swoosh* you're working with Neil Freaking Gaiman and Amanda Fv¢k*ng Palmer as the photographer for "Who Killed Amanda Palmer."

The reason Kyle doesn't like "charmed" is because he's worked for what he's been able to do.  He's a photographer -- and a danged good one at that -- and the quality and adventurousness of his work has definitely helped open doors for him.

Kyle also shares what he knows.  He teaches seminars around the country and is, from what I've read, a genuinely gracious guy to be around.  If you have questions, he takes the time to answer them, taking your interest as seriously as you do.

He also reaches out to people.  Much of the work he's been able to do with musicians comes back to a fan letter he wrote to a local Philly musician Nicki Jane.  He told her he liked her music, mentioned that he was a photographer and offered to take photographs of her for promotional material.  She appreciated the letter, liked his work, and they got together.

(Author Carolyn See in her book "Making a Literary Life" suggests that along with writing 1000 words per day you also write One Charming Note each day to an author, illustrator, agent, etc., whose work you specifically enjoy.  Write them a simple fan letter.  Do not ask for anything in the letter, just say how much you appreciate their work and leave it at that.  It's a wonderful idea)

Take a look at Kyle's book "Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes"  He went around the country taking photographs of regular people in their homes with their guns.  The genius of this book is that Kyle did not editorialize.  He treated the people in his photographs with respect and it shows.  The reader isn't lectured to.  There are no photographs that especially promote Second Amendment Rights or Patriotism any more than there are photographs that make the people out to be psychotic Right Wing gun nuts.  And yet, when the book was released, it was praised by advocates on both sides of the gun control issue.  Kyle treated his readers with respect, allowing them to make up their own minds about what he was presenting.

So, being talented, grateful, generous, respectful and one heckuva nice guy can get you somewhere in the world.

Not to mention the love of an talented actress and one amazing black and white cat.

Stop by Kyle's site and see what he's up to.  He's quite the guy (and is very approachable, too!).  If you do, tell him the guy with the five cats said he's "quite charming."

-- Tom

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