By Ezra Black
Kyle Hamilton is the face behind the Faces of Fernie project.
For the last three years the local photographer has been diligently capturing the portraits of Fernie residents for a venture that is both an artistic collection and a historical record of who was around town in the mid twenty-tens.
“I wanted to give something back to the community,” he said. “For me, a big part of what keeps me in Fernie is the people…it’s really them that makes this place unique.”
His original idea was to photograph every man, woman and child in the community in a one-year timeframe but after doing the math he discovered there were too many people and not enough hours to complete the task.
After that it became a longer-term multiyear project and in three years of shooting he’s collected about 900 portraits.
He began by compiling photographs of his close friends. Then in November he held two mass shoots in his 3rd Avenue studio and collected over 400 portraits.
“From the door to the back of the studio people lined up all day long,” said Hamilton. “I was overwhelmed and awe inspired by the reception the project got in the community.”
When he first conceived of the project, Hamilton had no idea what he was going to do with the images but the Fernie and District Historical Society has asked for 150 of the portraits for an exhibit to be held in the Fernie Museum in the new year.
Hamilton has also decided to publish the portraits in a coffee table book that also might be released next year. He thinks the book could feature the names, birthdays, and the dates his subjects arrived in Fernie.
He urged his subjects to have their portraits taken as their everyday selves.
“I wanted everyone to come in and look the same off the street and I wanted to focus on the face,” he said. “I want the project to be about the individual and not the environment.”
He’s also looking for more citizens to have their portraits taken and would like to reach the 1000-face mark. He won’t be doing any more mass shoots but he’s looking for people with a few minutes to spare to drop by his studio or contact him via Facebook.
“Whether you’ve lived in town for five minutes, or five generations, I want you to come in,” he said.