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Pandemic in Focus

Strange New World

Kathryn Costello | MA, United States

Strange New World

This is a portrait session with a graduate from the class of 2020 entering a changed world. Ordinarily these streets would be filled with a sea of people and constant flow of traffic. Everything was cleaner and the air was clear. Yet the emptiness and quiet were deeply unsettling. Graduation which is usually a time of hope and promise is now full of fear and uncertainty. Yet I am confident that we will find our way forward into this new world and be wiser as a result of living through this time.

I am an explorer who sees the world through the people I meet. I engage deeply with them one-on-one and learn their stories through the process of making a portrait.

I keep in the back of my mind as I am shooting one simple question, “Who are you?” My task is to see the face behind the face, to get past the uncertainty when someone first gets in front of my camera and encourage authentic expression. I recognize it when I see it—in subtle changes in their eyes from a fleeting thought, in their body language, and through movement in dance. That magical moment when they first emerge is when the session truly begins.

Portraits have the power to change the way people see themselves. The process can be cathartic. I’ve seen people laugh and cry as it brings up deep memories that form self image. Other times it is just fun. The most successful portrait sessions are when the photographs are a byproduct of a positive experience.

I run a portrait studio in Leominster and travel on location near and far helping people tell their stories through environmental portraiture.




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