She connected me with Ingrid Abrams, and eventually Christina Coleman and Jenny Levine who were all going to be attending the American Library Association's Mid Winter Conference January 24-28. They offered to book a room and put the word out that I'd like to photograph and interview people, but they could only do it on the 27th, which was right at the end of an extremely busy weekend that had me flying to Chicago late Friday night, running half marathon Saturday morning, photographing Peter Sagal for Joan of Dark's #GeekKnits book, getting up at 3:00 AM Sunday morning, flying to San Francisco to photograph Adam Savage (from Mythbusters), then taking the red-eye back to Philly that night, getting in at 7 am monday, doing various things all day Monday and then, basically on zero hours of sleep, setting up a portrait studio and photographing librarians at 7:00 that night.
Not much you can do in a situation like that but soldier through and hope you get a row to yourself on the redeye (didn't happen).
Librarian JP Porcaro snapped this behind the scenes shot of me, loopy with jet lag, setting up a studio surrounded by a bunch of awesome librarians. Clickenzee to Embiggen
Libraries and librarians have meant a lot to me throughout my life and there are specific ones that without whom I wouldn't be who I am today. Living, as we do now, in a world where the relevance of libraries is often challenged as superfluous by people with Amazon Prime accounts and reliable access to the Internet at home, I wanted to create a forum where liberians could could talk about the challenges that they're facing and the work that they're doing to an audience that might not otherwise see and hear that.
Ingrid helped me conduct interviews, I set up a studio with a single Pho-tek Softlighter II (the medium sized one) and shot with a Nikon d800.
Clickenzee to see the slide show!
When I was done some of the librarians asked if I wanted to go out and I was so giddy with jet-lag I said "sure" and had a swell time. By then I was out over the edge but I was done, there was a bed waiting for me at home and I thought about how much I'd done in the past 72 hours; it was a lot and I felt good about all of it.
From the beginning I thought that the photos should run in Slate and they were interested right away. I did a telephone interview and they talked to some of the librarians, picked ten of the images, and it sat around for a few weeks and went live yesterday. I found out when my inbox started to flood with people who had seen it. Within 45 minutes, when I finally got a chance to look, three thousand people had shared it on Facebook. Last time I checked, a few hours later, that had grown to 14,000 Facebook shares, then a Twitter fight (which I wasn't expecting) broke out between groups of librarians, but mostly love poured in. Love, and interview requests.
My plans are to go to the ALA conference this summer and keep photographing and interviewing. And, somewhere in there, get some sleep. If you're going to ALA in Vegas, keep an ear out for details on the shoot. If you think it's a cool think and would like a portrait of a librarian hanging on your wall, keep an ear out for details since I'll probably be kickstarting the trip.
In the meantime, tell me about the library experience that had the biggest impact on you.
Clicenzee to see the slide show!
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