Position:Researcher and Writer
Resident expert in:American history
Favorite project at PhotoAssist:It’s a toss-up between the Abraham Lincoln stamps and the War of 1812 stamps. It was a joy to read some of the excellent recent biographies of Lincoln, and the bicentennial of the War of 1812 has brought forth some terrific books showing how much that little-known war shaped our nation.
Historical period I’d want to go back to:I would like to time-travel to Elizabethan England, but just long enough to catch a few Shakespeare plays.
Favorite quotation:“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” —Woody Allen
How I spend my spare time:Swimming, playing basketball, and reading. My goal is to compete in the Senior Olympics in swimming at 90, once all the taller and better swimmers have died off.
Position: Social Media Coordinator and Writer
Proudest accomplishment: In college I designed and produced a small book of a few short stories I had written as a final project my senior year. It’s still my most prized possession.
Favorite project at PhotoAssist: I really enjoyed helping create a blog for the U.S. Postal Service. From having a hand in the design elements to brainstorming potential post topics, it was an eye-opening experience into what it takes to make a project come together and really work for a client.
How I spend my spare time: I love to read, take long walks around the city, and make my own beer. I’m a low-budget beer connoisseur.
Favorite website/blog: I spend probably too much time scanning through stories on Jezebel. Part feminist news, part celebrity gossip—it’s terribly addictive.
As a child, I wanted to be: I aspired to be an artist, an actress, a teacher, a lawyer, and, briefly, an astronaut. Becoming a writer was always my first choice, though.
Position: Senior Researcher and Writer, Manager of Social Media
Favorite project at PhotoAssist: My favorite project so far has been the Julia de Burgos stamp for the U.S. Postal Service. I had never read de Burgos’s poetry before and found myself truly moved by her radical look at the world around her and by her rather tragic life story. The artwork on that stamp is wonderful as well: all blues and greens, with everything slightly askew, just like the woozy world de Burgos built in her poems.
How I spend my spare time: Reading, hiking, and listening to music take up much of my free time. My husband and I also love to travel (we met in Turkey!) and hang out with our pup and our pals.
Favorite quotation: “Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” —Rachel Carson
Proudest accomplishment: I successfully researched, wrote, and defended my Master’s thesis on ancient Greek religious groups in Asia Minor. It took two years of grit, but I managed to do it, and I love the end product.
Position: Researcher and Writer
Ask me about: Sports
Favorite project at PhotoAssist: Probably the Muscle Cars stamps. There was a lot of minutiae to sift through, and a lot of terminology to soak up. I’m not really a “car guy”—my first car was an old Toyota Corolla, not an old Mustang—but I learned a lot. They’re also some of the coolest looking stamps the USPS has ever released.
Proudest accomplishment: In addition to working here, I’m a freelance writer. Getting my work published is still pretty thrilling, as dopey is it may sound. I hope to keep writing as long as I possibly can.
How I spend my spare time: Gorging on Netflix movies with my wife, going out to eat, and playing tennis.
Top five most-played songs: It’s kind of an odd mix. But here are five songs I’ve been listening to a lot lately:
“Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” by Pearl Jam
“Juicy” by Notorious B.I.G.
“Volunteers” by Jefferson Airplane
“Madness” by Muse
“One” by Metallica
Position: Computer Programer, IT Technician
Ask me about: Sports, technology, and history
Food I can’t live without: Pizza
As a child, I wanted to be: An archeologist
Favorite website: ESPN.com
Three things I always have with me: A pen, my wallet, and my phone.
Favorite documentary: Ken Burns’s The Civil War
Position: Executive Director, Founder
Ask me about: Anything and everything
Three things I always have with me: My wallet, a green sapphire necklace, and my father’s silver money clip engraved with his initials.
Favorite project at PhotoAssist: I’m a problem solver; in my next life I’ll probably be a private eye. I love starting new projects with clients and turning them into smoothly running systems that can be streamlined to save time and money. The hardest thing we ever did was to provide visual content for the Discovery Online magazine when they were doing five new stories every day seven days a week.
As a child, I wanted to be: A children’s book author
Proudest accomplishment: Saving my husband’s life after surgery to remove a brain tumor went horribly wrong.
Where I go to find news online: NYT.com
Position: Researcher and Writer
Specialize in: Floral subjects and Americana
Proudest accomplishment: Getting a graduate degree while working full time.
Favorite project at PhotoAssist: The Lady Bird Johnson/Beautification project. Mrs. Johnson knew that small things—simple things—like flowers along the highway or trees in a city park have a big impact on our quality of life. It was fulfilling to be able to celebrate her achievements.
As a child, I wanted to be: An archaeologist/interior decorator/princess. (I didn’t realize you had to choose just one…)
Favorite website/blog: My favorite blog is one created and written by two friends, Number One London. They blog about England past and present, books, travel, society, culture, and, well, anything that strikes their Anglophile fancy.
Position: Senior Researcher and Writer
Favorite quotation: I like this bit from Christopher Fry’s play The Lady’s Not For Burning:
“The brain a delicate mechanism; Almighty
God more precise than a clockmaker;
Grant us all a steady pendulum.”
How I spend my spare time: Taking absurdly intensive road trips. In May 2012, I drove 3,685 miles in two weeks, stopping to visit friends and see neat things in 13 states.
Historical period I’d want to go back to: I’d love to visit medieval Europe and colonial America, and I’d enjoy seeing Baghdad in its heyday, but I spend enough time writing about the past to know that I’m content to live in the here and now.
Favorite place: It’s a toss-up: either a diner in New Jersey late at night or a beach resort in the dead of winter. As I grow older and the world gets louder, I appreciate the quiet.
Position: Chief Operating Officer
What was your favorite project to work on at PhotoAssist? The Earthscapes stamps. Using Google Earth to check out patterns on the ground was awesome.
What is your proudest accomplishment? Raising two talented, independent daughters!
How do you like to spend your spare time? Many interests: Zumba and golf for exercise, genealogy research—all with music playing!
What is your favorite book? Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. Where else can you learn about how to buy eggs for nine cents and sell them for six cents and make money?
What is your favorite quote? “Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet.”
— Deteriorata, National Lampoon
If you could live in another historical period, what would it be? American Revolutionary times. I would love to meet Ben Franklin.
What three things do you always have with you? Glasses, cell phone, and keys—lots of keys…
Position: Photo Researcher and Photographer
Proudest accomplishment: Being a good father and husband. Other than those, I am incredibly proud that I rewired my 1957 Chevy, and it works!
Historical period I’d want to go back to: The roaring ‘20s. But the historical figure who I would want to meet, Sir Captain Richard Francis Burton, is from an earlier time.
Where I go to find news online: CNN and the Washington Post
Food I can’t live without: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Favorite documentary: I grew up watching Jacques Cousteau documentaries, so they have a special place in my heart and inspired me to get my diving certificate. I also enjoy the depth and diversity of the documentaries by Ken Burns.
Position: Program Manager
Ask me about: Finding out how much postage is needed for a package…it figures. I grew up the daughter of a career postal employee who was responsible for putting life into the ZIP Code way back in 1963.
Favorite quotation: One that makes me smile is from Golda Meir: “Whether women are better than men, I cannot say—but I can say they are certainly no worse.”
How I spend my spare time: If I ever find any, I’ll let you know. Every minute seems to be occupied by the demands of a husband, breeding and showing my Norwich and Norfolk terriers, and PhotoAssist.
Favorite project at PhotoAssist: Tough to choose. Among my favorites: Legends of Baseball in 2000 with Louis Plummer when the project suddenly became active with a less-than-five-month deadline to issuance; and Southeastern Lighthouses in 2003 when I got to work with the “two Howards” (art director Howard E. Paine and artist Howard Koslow). Can’t forget my long-standing project, the Stamp Guide, officially The Postal Service Guide to U.S. Stamps.
Position: Program Manager
Resident expert in: Art, design, and architecture
Three things I always have with me: I don’t go anywhere without my mobile phone. I use it for everything. I always try to keep a $20 bill tucked in my wallet for emergencies. Some places won’t accept credit or debit cards, and sometimes I need cash to park. And I always carry dental floss.
Favorite project at PhotoAssist: I’ve always liked working on art subjects. The Andy Warhol stamp was one of the first I worked on. I got to talk with a couple of Warhol’s photographers, folks who actually worked at the Factory with him. I even got to visit a photographer’s agent and sift through archives. It was a lot of fun.
How I spend my spare time: Communing with nature in the woods, mountains, and sea.
Bowling for Columbine
Making the Boys Black White + Gray: A Portrait of of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe
Position: Operations Manager
Favorite project at PhotoAssist: One of my earlier projects for PhotoAssist set the tone for the type of work I have often found rewarding. The task was to search visual and historical documents to insure that the stamp artist could accurately depict a scene of miners panning for gold in California in the late 1840s. The image he wanted to paint included everything from the clothing of the miners and their facial hair to the pans they used for their work and the topography of the landscape.
Proudest accomplishment: Personally, 28+ years of marriage and 25+ years of parenthood. Professionally, I’d probably say covering the war in El Salvador in the early ‘80s for the documentary unit at NBC, both because it was personally demanding on so many levels and because I felt the broadcast served the public good.
Favorite quotation: I guess it would be the quote I have on a little blue piece of paper tucked into a frame that sits on my dresser:
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” —Picasso
How I spend my spare time: Going to movies and plays, visiting art galleries, enjoying a meal out with friends and/or family, sitting or walking by the ocean.
Position: Creative Director, Founder
Specialize in: Historical artifacts, photos, and ephemera
Historical period I would go back to: I would have loved to experience the unspoiled West with Lewis and Clark.
Favorite project at PhotoAssist: I was fortunate enough to work with Howard Paine on a project for the Madison Council of the Library of Congress. We had permission to go into all of the vaults and look at the treasures that they have in storage. We got to look at letters and diaries of Abraham Lincoln, the Presidential Bible (the one they swear the presidents in with), Gershwin’s original score for “Rhapsody in Blue,” and examine an original Stradivarius violin.
How I spend my spare time: I love to row whenever I have the chance and I like photography—I have fun taking images and digitally editing them.
Proudest accomplishment: Professionally it would be creating and then running PhotoAssist with my partner, Sidney Brown. It has been an amazing ride.
Position: Researcher and Writer
Expertise in: Science and nature subjects
Food I can’t live without: I believe the four food groups are dark chocolate, wine, cheese, and pasta.
Favorite book: The Lord of the Rings is probably my all-time favorite. Lately I’ve been reading some writers who take a very literary approach to mystery novels, like Kate Atkinson, David Liss, and Louise Penny.
Proudest accomplishment: Backpacking the 35 miles of the Teton Crest Trail in Wyoming. It took six days, and I carried all my own equipment and M&Ms. We had several close encounters with moose calves and their mothers, and met a very curious pine marten.
Favorite documentary: Ken Burns’s The Civil War inspired me to go to film school.
Where I go to find news online: I think the New York Times still sets the standard for accuracy and good writing.
Founded in 1989 by husband-and-wife team Louis Plummer and Sidney Brown, PhotoAssist was born in response to a simple question from the U.S. Postal Service: “What do you know about Bill Pickett?”
Starting with a single photograph, we learned everything there was to know about this famous bulldogger and rodeo performer, helping the Postal Service correct a major error in the historical record—and soon becoming one of the most trusted photo research houses in the United States.
Since then, we’ve worked with experts in hundreds of fields to help international publishers, major museums, film companies, and government agencies produce work that’s accurate, well documented, and visually rich. We still love when someone asks: “What do you know and how do you know it?”