Marie Antoinette

Did some photos for Marie Antoinette at Curio Theatre which plays until May 10, 2018. I've done a lot of theater photos over the years. It's always a joy working with actors, as opposed to CEO's or whoever else you're photographing who are always looking at their watches and grumbling. Actors are used to taking direction, and they know you're all working on the same thing. The tough thing is never the actors, it's always getting the time that you need set aside by the theater. For some reason a lot of theaters seem to take publicity photos as a necessary annoyance. So if you come in saying "I'd like four hours" you'll usually get shot down. So, being prepared and being mobile become really important. Have a shot list, try and make one that's easy to break down and move because you might not get all the actors in the order you'd expected. So while you're waiting for one, be prepared to do photos of others. Index cards with your shot lists help. Put what actors you'll need for each shot and in what costumes, fold the card in half when you've completed it.

Move fast.
Be decisive.
Be nice.
Be effusive with your praise.
Don't be afraid to let actors act, it's their job.
Make them look good.
Setup and takedown fast.
Don't skimp on people -- treat every actor like they're going to be world famous in 3 years, because some of them will be.

The King and Queen of France. You may clickenzee to embiggen.

You've probably seen this before. It's based on a photo by Regine Mahaux from Getty Images. It seemed the obvious thing to do going in to a play about Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. And from that initial place it seemed logical to follow that path for the rest of the photos, but I only had access to the stage for a brief period of time because it needed to be set for the play, so I'd already set up a studio elsewhere in the theater. This photo, once the actors were ready, only took about 2 minutes. We went over posing, Brian nailed the smile and we were off to the studio so the stage manager could get to work. Doors in 60 minutes.

Here's the kit I used. You may clickenzee to embiggen.

I used a Leica m240 and brought three lenses, a 28, 35, and a 50. I ended up only using the 35 and the 50. I wasn't sure how wide the set was going to be. The 28 vignettes around the edges more than the 35, so I was happy to be able to use the 35 on the first shot. I used the 50 and the 35 for everything else.

Whole cast vertical. You may clickenzee to embiggen.

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I've found it's always good to mix horizontals and verticals, because no matter what they tell you, some magazine is going to have a formatting request you didn't think you'd want.

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Every year since 1999 I've been taking a 2 second long self portrait that begins in the last second of one year and ends in the first second of the new year. 2017 turned into 2018 in the living room of our friends Alon & Arwin. You can find the others by going back through this blog.

I hope everyone has a very merry new year. trillian_stars and I have some things to look forward do and some things we're thankful for.

2017 becomes 2018.
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The Yellow Wallpaper (Nov. 16-18 in Pennsylvania)

"There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will."
-- The Yellow Wallpaper

trillian_stars is performing her one-woman show of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's classic The Yellow Wallpaper this time at Anthony Wayne Mansion in Paoli, Pennsylvania) (link to Google map) Nov 16 - 18, 2017 at 7:00pm

She performed this last year at the Physick House in Philadelphia and each show was sold out. (There's a review of that here. Since then, the production has gotten somewhat more complicated with additional lighting effects and surprises. The show lasts about an hour. It's a ghost story and the best way to see it is in an audience of a very few, so you can be close to the action. The House at Historic Waynesboro could have been the house from the story which is what makes it so much better than seeing it in an ordinary theater. It's far out in the country, isolated from everything.

Clickenzee to get this big enough to be your computer wallpaper.

The Yellow Wallpaper is the story of a woman imprisoned by her husband while suffering what at the time was called "hysteria". She's locked away in a horrid room in a beautiful house and kept from books and people and writing. When she begs her husband to end the "treatment" he takes her in her arms and calls her a "blessed little goose". At every corner she is ignored and diminished and stripped of any autonomy.

While this is happening, things begin to manifest themselves in the room in which she's been kept, and strange things unfold.

Time & Location

Nov 16 - 18, 2017 at 7:00pm - 10:00pm EST
Waynesborough Historic House, 2049 Waynesborough Rd, Paoli, PA 19301, USA

About The Event

"There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me." So says the narrator in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Victorian masterpiece, The Yellow Wallpaper. This tale of psychological terror and feminist awakening comes to life in the Carriage House at Historic Waynesborough, as a woman suffering from "nervous depression" is kept in the country on medical rest by her husband, only to discover that there is something far more insidious lurking within the walls of her prison-like room".

Looked at in one way each breadth stands alone, the bloated curves and flourishes--a kind of "debased Romanesque" with delirium tremens--go waddling up and down in isolated columns of fatuity. -- But, on the other hand, they connect diagonally, and the sprawling outlines run off in great slanting waves of optic horror, like a lot of wallowing seaweeds in full chase. -- The whole thing goes horizontally, too, at least it seems so, and I exhaust myself in trying to distinguish the order of its going in that direction.
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The Yellow Wallpaper was written in 1892, but it's not any less important today. It's one of the early handclaps that lead to women's suffrage. I was happy to see such a glorious production in such a great space. The show opens Thursday November 16 and runs until the 18th. There aren't a lot of seats, so most of the shows will probably sell out so, getting your tickets ($22) in advance is a good idea.

It's possible to get there from Philly on public transportation. There's a bit of a walk at the end, which should leave you good and terrified on the way home wondering if something has escaped from the Wallpaper and is ... somewhere ... behind you.
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Hennepin has left the buildingf

Hennepin has left the building. She was a good cat and she was trillian_stars' friend for 17 years and mine for 10. We're grateful to Lap of Love hospice for making this thing as easy as it could possibly be. If you feel motivated, make a donation in her name to City Kitties, and help some other cat from the street find a person to give their whole, entire, best life to and make some other person this sad and this grateful 17 years from today.

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My posts about 9/11 are now a sixteen years old. It's hard to think. And that I've had this blog for that long. There are three posts, one from the Pentagon the week of the attacks, one from the World Trade Center site, and one from Shanksville PA, slightly later. I think the thing I wonder most now, after all this, is if you could ask those hijackers now, "do you think you made things better?" What would they say?

You can read them here.


I had a dream last night that trillian_stars wanted me to steal a painting for her from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“Which one?” i asked.

“It doesn’t matter,” she said, “I just can’t be with a person who isn’t willing to risk prison to be with me."

So she took me to the Met & I went inside, and through labyrinthine galleries, filled with paintings that I am now fairly certain aren’t in the Met. But there were security guards and people everywhere. Finally, I walked into a room with several very modern looking reclining couches in it, black and silver, the room was empty, and a wall jutted out preventing the security guards in the next room from seeing me — and on the other side of that wall, there was a painting, of Roswell, painted on a dried whole wheat pita. It was held onto the wall by three L shaped hooks. I slid it out and held the painted side face down, so people would think that I was just carrying food out. I went out a side door of the museum and trillian_stars was waiting for me there.

I gave her the pita.

“You stole the Mona Lisa!” she said excitedly when she saw it.

I knew it wasn’t the Mona Lisa but I didn’t want to say anything because I was afraid she'd realize it was just a painting of Roswell on a pita.

Later I woke up.

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Book Launch Party

There's so much that happened here and really so little time to write it down -- this is more of a photo album with captions than a proper recap. Back in 2014, I'm sure you all know, I photographed some librarians in a viral photo essay for Slate called This is What a Librarian Looks Like. in the intervening years, I've photographed hundreds of librarians and had a book come out. Last week I went to my fifth American Library Association conference, not to photograph people, but to launch the book, which is very exciting. All those years of work get compressed into one singularity and when it's finally done, you get back all that joy that you missed every time you couldn't go out because you were working, or your couldn't go on vacation because you had a deadline, or you couldn't see your wife's play because you were photographing people in some faraway state.....

This is how it all begins. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

My book launch party, was sponsored by EveryLibrary which I think of as a sort of Amnesty International for libraries. They advocate for library funding, help communities inform voters, and help develop fundraising strategies. They'd rented the top floor of a bar called the Old Crow in Chicago and we'd developed a slide show of about 500 photos of librarians to play during the event, and around that, I spent three days signing copies of the book.

All the stars were assuredly aligned -- as I got off the plane people started texting to let me know that the Los Angeles Times book section had just printed a full page (and very positive) review of This is What a Librarian Looks Like.

LA Times! You may clickenzee to Embiggen!

Unique to this trip was that trillian_stars was able to come, on account of one of her rehearsals being cancelled. We got in on Friday morning and I went for a run through the city, along the lakefront, out to the WBEZ radio station and then back along up the river. Chicago really uses its waterfront very well. In philly we've got rivers and we have running trails along rivers, but we don't really have boat rides, convenient kayak rentals, places to stop and get an ice cream cone or waterfront breweries. On the one hand it's selfishly nice that I don't have to run past a bunch of tourists loping along, but on the other -- everybody should be enjoying this.

My first signing was in the evening. I got all suited up and headed out.

This is about half of the exhibit floor. Book stuff EVERYWHERE. You may clickenzee to Embiggen!

Ingram, the ginormous book distributor is kicking off a year of librarian programming and they'd set up a gigantic booth for me to sign books all weekend, and while I was signing, they were giving librarians an opportunity to continue telling their stories with a photo booth. You can see the photos they're shooting and printing out in the background (here's a closeup). This whole thing was the idea of Heidi Kantor, who works at Hachette (she's over on the right in the purple shirt talking to my publicist Betsy) it was an entire year in the making and it went beautifully.

My gigantic signing booth! Thanks Ingram! You may clickenzee to Embiggen!

This is Elizabeth Frailberg From who Ingram got to do all the photos. She was super awesome.

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Ingram made this mailer to publicize the event -- this is the first time I saw it -- it's a fold out polaroid camera that shoots little prints from the book out. It was absolutely stunning.

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If the lines were long I didn't stop signing. All in all, I think I signed books for about seven hours. Betsy stood there the whole time setting up books, keeping people in line entertained, making sure I got where I needed to get on time, handing out cake and plotting with the media.

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Whenever I wasn't writing down my name I was carrying around an extra copy of the book because the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden was ... somewhere ... at the convention. People would sporadically post Twitter selfies with her "I met Dr. Hayden at the bar!" -- "I saw Dr. Hayden in an elevator!" they were calling them "unicorn sightings". I figured that if I didn't carry a copy of the book around, I'd certainly see her in the Walgreens or in the lobby of a hotel. I eventually did run into her at 9 am on Saturday morning. I said "I wrote this book--" and she cut me off

he Librarian of Congress: "Wait, are you Kyle?!? I actually bought your book. It's a wonderful book. It's on display behind my desk, in my office, next to my Nancy Pearl shushing-doll. I take it down every single day to show people all the things that librarians are doing around the country. In fact, I'm mentioning it in my speech today."

Me: "omg".

Librarian of Congress: "Give your info to my communications director, we'll talk.

Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

There's actually embarrassing video of me freaking out when she said that. And now we have plans for a Top Sekrit Projekt.


I signed books on Saturday and then we snuck out to a quick lunch with novelist Anne Gross, her first novel, The Conjured Woman, which I'm reading now, is a fictional book about real life historical tarot card reader, Mademoiselle Lenormand, who is working for Napoleon and attempts to create a golem to do the Emperor's bidding but somehow ends up dragging a hard partying nurse from 21st century Arizona into the past. I'm on chapter five -- after awakening in the 1800's our heroine escapes what she believes to be kidnappers but is distracted by a bar 15 feet down the road and spends three pages trying to find someone to buy her a drink instead of continuing to escape. It's kind of like Outlander but with a protagonist who spends a lot of time swilling gin and punching people.

Anne Gross, you may clickenzee to Embiggen!

We stopped in at the Ingram books party which was on the 99th floor of the Willis Tower and had some amazing views of the city. You could also go UP one more floor and then stand on a glass deck with the city under your feet. (NopeNopeNopeNope)

We met a bunch of cool people there like Librarian Steve from Circulating Ideas and Peter Straub's buddy Brad Morrow signing a massive stack of books.

The 99th floor. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

We left the Ingram party for our party -- which turned out to be the most awesome book launch party you could possibly imagine.

On the way to the book release party. Dress by Heartless Revival. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

My book launch party. Wow. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

My book launch party. Wow. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

Here's Peter Sagal, trillian_stars and Librarian Steve from the Circulating Ideas podcast (you can listen to Steve's interview with me here.

At the book launch. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

Emil Ferris, author of My Favorite Thing is Monsters was there.

Peter, Emil Ferris and me. You may clickenzee to embiggen us!

It was great seeing people from the book. Some of them I only met for, literally, 60 seconds three years ago and their images have been frozen in time, but others (like Ingrid) have been working on this with me the whole time. Ingrid's now who you see when you google "what does a librarian look like?" which is thanks in large part to Slate who picked her photo to lead the original viral photo essay.

At the book launch. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

Over the weekend I tried to get as many people as I could to sign my book. here, and here, and here

We stayed up laaaaate after the party hanging out with Singer / Songwriter Molly Robison then getting up insanely early to sign books.

Look at me ma, I'm on TV! With Rebecca Miller from Library Journal talking about library advocacy and ways to outreach to communities and politicians about libraries.

Library Journal interview. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

I was on some ALA programming too, basically just talking about the book and then signing it, it was really the only time I got off of the exhibit floor. We met some cool people including Craig Grossi and Fred, Craig is a U.S. Marine and Fred is the stray dog he rescued in Afghanistan and brought back to the U.S., and Nate Pederson author of Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways To Cure Everything

Non fiction panel. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

I plotted with Adam and Jill at Overdrive, the digital library app, on a new project.

On Sunday I signed the last book, Elizabeth took the last photo, my last event was "Champaign and Cake" in the ALA lounge, I signed books and posters and plotted with ALA past president Maureen Sullivan on yet another project,
got in a good talk with Gordon about new book projects and I headed home. I'm grateful that so many people have believed so strongly in this idea for so long. Particularly my agent, the magical Gordon Warnock at Fuse Literary, my editor Becky Koh and publicist Betsy Hulsebosch as well as Heidi Kantor at Hachette, Ingram who have invested two years of their time and money into this, and all the librarians who do this amazing work every single day, fighting to get people access to information.

That's a wrap! You may clickenzee to embiggen! I think my head looks really small in this photo.

Sorry all the people and things I left out.

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Cooking with Roswell

trillian_stars has rehearsal all this week for her new show at the Constitution Center so Roswell and I are using the opportunity to get back in the kitchen.

We wanted to be able to make some bulk things that she could pack for lunch (and possibly dinner) every day -- things that invite grazing in between scenes and that will mix well with other things and also things that are served cold and make you think of being cool (since it's really hot out).

Yesterday we cooked about three pounds of dried chickpeas in the slow cooker and today we mixed that with avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds, shredded carrots and some fresh dill. For some reason, dill seems to make things seem summery.

Now we are off to fix the dehumidifier.

How's your day been?

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Roswell inspected! You may Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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