I would describe Katie cassin as a Go-Getter
In the photography world, Cassin has proven to be a force. Cassin came into her own late 2019 with Katie Cassin Photography which was quickly challenged by the 2020 shut-down and COVID-19 Pandemic as a whole. She proved that not only was she up for the challenge (providing FaceTime Portrait Sessions), but that she could and would thrive within it. At 30 years old with a 2 year old Son Jameson and husband Sean, her little household became the little engine that could. Her mission statement stands as 'Community over Competition' which she proves again and again with her camaraderie in the field and her monthly publication of The Long Island Lens. A woman of her word with a story to tell, Katie Cassin surprised me during her interview.
It was a warm May evening and we sat outside at Barrique when Katie Cassin lead me through the menu before our chat. I have known Katie a few months on a work basis, exchanging video messages, LLC brainstorming and she gladly educates me on how to make reels for Instagram (this is not my forte). The cool thing is that going back, her and I share some mutual friends which lead me to believe that her past in theater was the driving force behind her photography methods. "No" she firmly stated after I asked, "It's actually quite the opposite." Katie Cassin attended the Hartt Conservatory her Freshman year of higher education but transferred and finished her BFA in Theater Production at Hofstra University. The transfer, was due to her needing treatment for her Eating Disorder, which solidified in college. Her disordered eating started in childhood, but intensified when surrounded by the body criticism that breeds purging schedules and skipped meals. At Hofstra, she completed her theater degree because that’s what she knew. After graduation, she taught and acted in community theater. "I was the comic relief, the character actor, the boobs, that was my station" she described. Theater had started for her at a young age when a friend's father heard her singing with his daughter. When her mother Dawn arrived to pick her up from the playdate, her friend's Dad told her to start putting Katie in auditions. If you are wondering why Cassin's mother didn't realize her daughter's talent herself, it's because Dawn Hoffmann is deaf, "Yes, I'm the singer with the deaf Mom" Katie laughs through that quote with her big signature smile.
When Katie talks about her Mom she has all positive things to say, while she's a self described Daddy's Girl, and her Dad was the one who accompanied her on auditions, her Mom came up a lot in our conversation. Everything in present tense is extraordinarily complimentary when describing her Mother and the support she gives, but of course, not everything is perfect, "How long can you hold anger against someone who does something from the heart?" Cassin remarks, showing not only the depth, but height of her character. Theater comes up through the conversation and she relates it to a lot of her struggles, yet also her triumphs. "One of my favorite roles lead to one of the biggest breakthroughs with my Mom" she recalls when talking about taking the stage as Jenny in 'It should have been you'. Theater served a big purpose for Katie Cassin in her evolution of self, in her real life, and professional life alike. Katie gets a look in her eyes when talking about her Parents & Husband - it's almost like you can feel just how much they mean to her. When you are around Katie Cassin you are very aware that this woman lets the little things go, yet cares very deeply about what matters. "I am as loyal as loyal gets, once you're my friend, we're in this for life."
When discussing her friendships, her closest tribe are people who have been connected to Cassin through time a space. Whether childhood, middle school, or college, Katie Cassin is ride or die. "I'm an open book, but slow to trust" she describes. Once that trust is there though, you're bonded with Cassin indefinitely. Her husband Sean was someone that her friends warned her about "Stay away from Sean Cassin, that guy's a player" Katie says with gleeful reminisce - now with her husband for 10 years, married for 6 and a son, that's a warning she was glad to ignore. When she talks about Sean, you know she's a part of a phenomenal team, one you not only want to watch win, but be close to. As she goes onto describe her family (she has two younger sisters), friends, and household, you gain the sense that Cassin is the caregiver. She very much wants to see everyone around her not only champion what they tackle, but be whole. Katie Cassin takes the well being, and successes of the people in her life personally. The conversation bobs and weaves through her performative past, and the people she holds dear - when her photography journey comes up it's a simple story stated within the world of her personal community.
"Photography happened by accident" Katie says over our split pizza and fancy grilled cheeses. She took a nannying job for a woman she had known in High School. This woman happened to be a photographer and was down a hair and make-up person one day - Cassin, with her background could throw a curl since childhood - any thespian also knows the basics of applying face. After her successful substitution she found herself looking through the lens, she had the eye, and everything else just fell into place. Quickly she was learning the basics as a second shooter and it wasn't until 2019 that she decided that it was time to build something of her own. Accompanied by pure grit and determination she accepted an investment of holiday props from her Mom and ran mini sessions for families out of her home. Even with words of doubt at her back, she pushed through and trusted her gut - Katie Cassin Photography was officially born.
"What, did she Steal your Eyeballs?"
Katie makes this candid remark when we turn to the discussion of her mission statement, Community over Competition "it's so bananas to me, honestly, nobody is you. You're the only one who sees things the way you do" - she lays it out so simply. In an artistic industry that seems to have a newcomer, or multiple newcomers a day, the former generation of Long Island Photographers is mostly on guard when comes to somebody else starting out. Katie Cassin though, makes a point of living out her word. She's a woman so used to authentically being herself that she is wildly unbothered when someone asks for photography advice and she gladly gives it. Getting to know Cassin deeper, she discloses that having her son resulted in some heavy Postpartum Anxiety. She had done so much inner work in recovery of her eating disorder that she knew she needed help almost right away. Knowing this, and knowing her, she really does live her word. The saying 'It Takes a Village' encompasses a meaning within every aspect of Katie Cassin's life, even when she's the Village providing.
While she describes Photography as an overall 'accident' professionally, growing up with a deaf Mother highlighted the importance of visual memory. Softly smiling Katie takes me through the photographs that her mother has stored in boxes - how special they are - how carefully her childhood was documented because everything her Mom could see was precious. Pictures, and the saving of time, has been a marker of sentimentality for Cassin her entire life - and now - she gives that to others. She provides not only her little family, but families all over with that specialness, not with a performative motive, no, but with a loving one. It was remarkable for me to see that going into our chat I had expected Cassin to have taken root in her history of show - but really, that was her cocoon. Through the seasons of her life she has left that home and started anew, while still loving the idea of directing and holding close the parts of the stage that were meaningful to her, she channels that energy into every capture of her clients. She affectionately calls her clients her people, the ones who gravitate towards her charismatic energy, confident smile, and point of view that truly is a brand all of itself.
Originally I had a very dramatic perspective for Katie's photo session but after our conversation that vision had to pivot - it didn't fit the overall energy that Cassin gave to me. Instead, we landed on a clan slate type of collaboration, and Katie brought her A-Game. Shooting another photographer is not as easy as it may sound, but Katie Cassin and her personality smoothed out all of those creases.
This interview is my first of what I hope for is many - I cannot wait to see The Sparrow's Song unfold and am truly grateful for Katie Cassin and all that she brought to the table.
If you, or you know of someone that has a story to tell and won't be camera shy, please contact me so we can set up an interview.