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Backstory: the day I met death


What Poe Thought by L.S. King

Death followed me into the black box theatre. I did not tremble. I did not shrink away in horror, nor did I beg for more time. Instead I met it with my camera.

It stood before me, cloaked and masked, without expression, just a stillness as we looked at one another. Then I raised my camera and gave a few directions much like I would for any other portrait subject. He – yes, death was a he – laughed and did exactly as I asked and a very pleasant experience ensued, ending with the master of macabre asking when he could see the image.

Death, when not doing his fretted job, is a student at the university where I work. At the time I shot this image, I was waiting for the set dresser to put the finishing touches on a scene I was shooting for PR purposes for a new play about Edgar Alan Poe. As I waited, several of the cast members wandered in and out of the theatre in various states of dress.

Enter death and his friend. They almost blended in with the theatre and silently made their entrance until they stood before me. As they were taller than me and had their faces hidden, I admit to a moment of flashback to all my childhood fears. This was not long lasting for I finally saw the moment for what it was worth – FUN!

Both were great sports about letting me photograph them. They posed majestically for portraits, but this image was a spontaneous one. Neither knew I still had my camera pointing in their direction.

We did not use the image in any publicity, but I still hung on to it. When the fine folks at Don’t Take Pictures ran a call for an online juried show called Masks, it seemed like a good fit. On a whim, I entered a few from the shoot and this is the image the juror chose to include in the exhibition.

Click here to view the Masks exhibition. It runs through Feb. 21.


The Unwinding Path is the blog of L.S. King – photographer, want-to-be printmaker and sometimes hypnotist. By day she is an arts communications officer at a rural university (translation: photographer, writer, and media content provider), and most of the rest of her time she is an MFA graduate student at Radford University.


  1. This is a terrific and unsettling image-I can see why it was chosen-congrats!

    • Hehe. Thanks. You know, I really did have a moment when they made me catch my breath.

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