Thursday, 27 August 2009

Saved by Science (NHM) Photo Series

I'm now six installments into a twitter photo series I've been calling "Saved by Science (NHM)" and I've decided I'm enjoying myself enough to warrant formalizing it a bit more.

It all started when I was browsing SEED magazine's special Darwin bicentenary collection (as a professional Darwin groupie is wont to do) and saw a link to an article by Carl Zimmer called 'The Awe of Natural History Collections'. I clicked it (as an Natural History Museum employee is wont to do) and was immediately enthralled, from the subtitle--'visiting the hidden side of natural history museums, where the vast collections of scientific specimens are kept'--through to the end. It's a real Zimmer gem, if you ask me.

Anyways, the article links to an audio slide show by Justine Cooper called "Saved by Science". It's not your average window-dressing to an article, it absolutely steals the show. And considering how good Carl Zimmer's writing is, that's really saying something. It's a brilliant piece of stand-alone journalism. Some of the slides are astonishingly intimate and poignant. Go there now and watch (and listen to) the whole thing.

I was immediately struck by the familiarity of the photographs. They were so similar to scenes I'd witnessed myself at the Natural History Museum in London, where I work. And then I realized that there was a communication void just waiting to be filled; I realized that I really should start taking candid behind-the-scenes photos at 'my' museum along the same lines as Justine Cooper's photos of AMNH.

And so began "Saved by Science (NHM)", a series of tweets (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...) with my Cooperesque NHM photos attached as twitpics. Of course, my photos are usually taken with my iPhone, not a large-format camera, and of course they're not nearly as good as Cooper's, but the point is to reveal the hidden side of the Natural History Museum to a wider audience.

To keep up on my series you can follow me on twitter, but as twitter is a pretty ephemeral thing, and as not everyone tweets (I know--shocking), and as I'd hate for the series to get lost in that ever-growing graveyard of old, unarchived tweets, I've created a permanent archive on my website.


Joe D said...

i can't offer a large format, but i've got a dslr if you wanted some more :)

Karen James said...

I've got a dslr too, though I don't use it nearly as well as you do yours! But the thing is, this relies on me randomly stumbling across photo opportunities as I go through my work day. How about this, after a few months, I do a poll to pick the top 20 image subjects and then I'll invite you in to repeat them w/ your dslr.