Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in their Homes" is now available

If you haven't visited photographer Kyle Cassidy's website promoting his book "Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in their Homes," you really ought to take a look.

The book comes out in July and is currently available in pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, and Powells.

As a gun owner, I find Cassidy's book great fun, but also a fresh opportunity to begin conversations with non-gun owners or even anti-gun voters who have a negative view not just of guns but of gun owners in general. When I mention my own involvement with firearms and the Gun Owners Caucus, I sometimes get the reaction, "Oh, you don't seem like a gun owner." (I guess if I wore a bright orange vest or Elmer Fudd hat around the office, people wouldn't be as surprised.)

On the point of "who seems like a gun owners," Cassidy's book will turn your preconceptions on their head. Here's the approach he says guided the project:
"I tried to remove 'gun owner' from my mind as much as possible when making the actual photograph," says Cassidy. "I would go into someone's house and immediately start thinking 'how can I capture this person or this family fairly?" While it would be very easy for any photographer to pose a man with a military weapon in a stern and menacing way, light it dramatically and come away with a shocking photograph, Cassidy chose another more accurate and startling route. "I would ask myself 'What's this guy like every day? How do his friends and family see him?' He's a guy who owns a parakeet, or two cats, or a poodle, he's got two kids--he doesn't frown all day long because he's got a gun."
The work is exceptional. And surprising. Even gun owners may not know the full range of citizens who own guns--or their motivations: Cassidy ended each interview with a basic question, "Why DO you own a gun?" The answers are as interesting as the photographs.

Well worth a look.