Issue 11 Cover Story

Through the Lens of Alma Kismic

How do you make the invisible visible? The question is a routine one for photographers, who are tasked with showing the inside on the outside — that is, the character and personality of an individual, captured in a gesture or expression. We all have a light inside of us; a good portrait can make it unexpectedly bright.

It was this power of portraiture to reveal what is hidden that drew the art team at BESIDE in a whole new direction for the cover of our 11th edition, New Times, on stands November 9th.

The issue dives deep into time’s multiplicity and asks what we can learn by tuning into different rhythms and patterns: the time of seasons and harvests, rest and creation, rituals and traditions.

Time is as variable as water, and only a human being could reflect this fluidity. BESIDE’s past covers have all been scenic, but this time we needed a person.


To bring this dynamic to life, the creative team turned to Alma Kismic, a Montréal-based photographer specializing in portraiture. Kismic’s work habitually explores the fertile territory where built and natural environments overlap. For her, the dialogue between time and nature offers a continual source of surprise and inspiration.

“I want to freeze a precise moment of nature, which is constantly in motion, in evolution, in growth,” Kismic says of her approach. “I take the time to observe and find a subtlety that we don’t necessarily see. I take what nature offers me.”

Together, Kismic and the BESIDE team invited Maria Mariano (Read Maria’s BESIDE Questionnaire), a Filipinx maker and researcher, to be the face of the New Times issue. Mariano draws on their background in biochemistry to push the limits of sustainable design; they are currently experimenting with textiles made from expired skim milk, along with other ways of bringing more circularity into the fashion industry. “From the moment we met, I felt that Maria was the perfect subject, with their personality and energy,” says Kismic.

With this shoot, Kismic and BESIDE’s art director, Pier-Philippe Rioux, wanted to capture a moment of introspection in a natural setting, and water seemed like the ideal medium for bringing together stillness and movement. After a lengthy search, the team alighted on the Morrison Quarry, a swimming and diving hole just north of Ottawa that’s celebrated for its vivid turquoise hue and the clarity of its waters.

Despite a heavy downpour, the team set out in the pre-dawn darkness to catch the early morning light. By the time the sun had risen, the rain had softened to a drizzle, lining the surface of the water with a million criss-crossing ripples. Eventually, even the drizzle stopped, and at last the water showed only the gentle reverberations of Mariano’s movements.

“The weather was not on our side that day, but we managed to create something special,” says Kismic, who had also donned a wetsuit and crawled into the chilly water alongside Mariano to get the shot. Afterward, the two wrapped up in the waiting warmth of towels and blankets, savouring the lingering flush of the cold water and the emerald reflections of clouds travelling overhead.

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