Yesterday, at the Businesswomen’s Luncheon presented by the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce at the Gloucester House, Hannah had yet another crowd on the edge of their seats as she spoke about her new book A Woman’s Place Is at the Top. I haven’t made every event that she has spoken at this book-season, but the ones I have attended have been inspiring to say the least. Yes, I’m married to Hannah so there would appear to be a bias, but this post is not. Of course, I’m a proud husband who gives her the full support and what not. But again, this isn’t some eulogized puff piece about how awesome my wife and her writing is. This is the view of a cameraman, and an observer, an angle that was altogether different.
To separate myself from who or what I am to Hannah may seem impossible, but I can easily sit in that place from behind my camera as I work. When I’m capturing the world around me, I can easily disappear as a person, friend, or even a spouse when my world through a lens consumes me, as it often does. Now, Hannah has a pure talent for holding a room in the palm of her hand, and no I’m not talking about dinners at our house mantled in wine and food. This is the professional Hannah, the teacher Hannah, and the scholar Hannah that you find when you come to see her talk about her book and the adventures she has had in creating it. And she damn good.
After the ooh’s, aah’s, laughter and looks of “Nooo shit, she really did that?” that usually fill the room every time she gives a talk, comes the line. The autograph line. Thankfully, the fine folks at The Bookstore of Gloucester show up when they can with boxes of books to sell. (For the record, Hannah is published by St. Martin’s Press, so no she doesn’t own the books, and she’s not self-published, so that money isn’t going to my beer fund.) So as Hannah finishes her last comments and thank-yous for coming, she invites folks to go back of the room to the table where the stacks of books are, and she will happily sign each and every one. But this never happens. Before Hannah get’s a chance to leave the podium, the line immediately forms right in front of her, every time and without delay. People race to the back, buy up as many books as they can, sometimes this more than 4 books at a time, and they rush back to queue up with an anticipation of Cosco shopper in free-sample line, that’s starving. On this occasion, the women, (all women in this event’s case), are clutched with book in hand and a story of parallelism to match. I see this at all the events. This is when it happens. As I stare at my screen, through my lens, I see the excitement, passion, and respect that these women have on their faces and what this means to them, and I’m shook. When I zoom in to get the tight shot of the eyes of each woman, I see the admiration, the respect, and a thankfulness for Hannah coming here and sharing her story with them. A look that usually only seams reserved for the eyes of a grandparent gazing at their newborn grandchild, or a mother when her baby smiles back, or every little girl that lines up to meet Justin Bieber face to face. Yes, it’s that powerful. This occurs in the small spaces of silence between fan and writer as Hannah signs each book at their request. As I try to keep the focus of my lens, compose and move my shots, I’m taking aback by these moments over and over. They are coupled with the stories of inspiration, the requests of whom the book will be autographed to, and the multiple thank yous and “atta-girl” “You keep grinding” comments that shower her at every podium I’ve witnessed. I look down the line to see the others waiting as they chat to each other and share like moments. I found the support, love, and appreciation for what Hannah’s book has done to be remarkable and well deserved.
I realized in these moments the power of the word, the power of the pen, and the power of a woman who is inspired.
Later, after the event, Hannah asked me “Did you film any of the women getting books signed?” As I pictured my framing over her shoulder, the tight shot of each woman’s eyes with the edge of Hannah’s hair cutting into the frame, as they went between looking at what she was writing and looking up at Hannah without her with that gaze of admiration, I said “Yes honey, yes I did.”
If you want some inspiration, click the photo link to buy your own copy from Amazon!
Or head down the Bookstore of Gloucester and get one now!!
Every copy was sold at the event, and money was raised for the Carolyn O’Connor Scholarship. Well done ladies. Gloucester is a better place because of the work these women do.