(Music by The Album Leaf)
I first heard about the secret bookshop, Brazenhead Books, from my friend Rachel Rosenfelt, founder of the literary website The New Inquiry. Rachel described Brazenhead as a mecca for book lovers and as one of those rare New York City gems, an extremely fascinating, yet unknown, spot.
Rachel invited me to a salon being held at the space, and although I’m not a literary type in the traditional sense (I read a ton — just mostly nonfiction), I jumped on the opportunity to visit.
I arrived at the building a little nervous, like I was about to engage in an illegal act. After a short wait I was buzzed upstairs. From the minute I walked in I was in love with the space and knew I wanted to photograph it.
Rachel introduced me to Michael, the owner of Brazenhead and a lifelong bookseller. There was something about Michael’s extremely unpretentious approach to books and his engaging personality that really impressed me. Over a few drinks Michael and I had a conversation about his life as a bookseller and the current state of secondhand shops. I seem to be attracted to people who are extremely dedicated, borderline obsessed, with their passions (probably because I frequently find myself in this realm), and Michael was no exception.
A few weeks later I asked Michael if I could make a short film about his bookstore and to my surprise he said yes. I know for a fact that Michael has turned down multiple interview requests in the past so I was extremely excited by his answer.
Michael is so engaging that I ended up shooting over an hour of just interview footage with him. What you see here is a very small glimpse into his bookshop and his life. What I love about my work is what I learn from my subjects, and I think the most important thing I learned from Michael is how rewarding it is to live your life by your own terms.
While I hope this video translates into a few more book sales for Michael, I also hope his shop remains one of those special, hidden delights New York City has to offer. I also want to thank Rachel at The New Inquiry for all her help and Michael for letting me hang out and try to sum up his life — and bookshop — in 3 short minutes.