Has it really been six months since the last bulletin from Planet Shapton? Apparently so. Well, what can I say, it’s been a busy half year. In truth, I’ve also become increasingly ambivalent about the professional benefits of certain kinds of social media, blogging included. It feels like we’re all in a giant room together, and everyone is yelling “look at me, look at me!” at everyone else. It’s had the effect, lately, of making me want to just tune everything out. In an online world where we’re all crowing about how special we are, isn’t the reality actually that we’re much more similar than we care to admit? But that’s a discussion for another day.

What got me thinking about writing again, in spite of this, was a recent assignment photographing social media juggernaut (and, not incidentally, retired astronaut) Chris Hadfield, for the UK’s Guardian Weekend magazine. He’s a remarkable individual, genuine and good natured, with a crushing fighter-pilot handshake and an easy laugh; every bit as compelling and charismatic in real life as he seems to be from his prolific Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, and Tumblr activity. The key thing that sets him apart is that he’s actually hugely accomplished, distinctly and tangibly so, with real things to talk about and a clear vision as to the larger possibilities and benefits of the social media realm. I have no doubt that he has done more than any other single individual in recent memory to fuel interest in science education and space exploration — an invaluable and necessary effort given the anti-science, anti-intellectual currents that seem to swirl through our popular culture.

I photographed him in his home town of Sarnia, Ontario, and he was a dream subject; un-selfconscious, friendly, engaging, and thoughtful. I’ve talked before about how one of the best things about my job is the opportunity it affords me to meet different kinds of people, but I’ve never met anyone quite like Mr. Hadfield and I have to rank this as one of my favourite assignments, ever. I also got to meet and work with the acclaimed Emma Brockes, who wrote the article – it’s not often that the writers are there when I am shooting, which is too bad as it definitely adds to the experience.

Make sure to pick up Mr Hadfield’s new book when you get a chance. Emma Brockes also has a book that has just come out — while you’re at it, you should pick up a copy of that as well!

If this is your first visit to Planet Shapton, please leave a comment, I’d love to hear what you think. You can also subscribe and follow me on TwitterTumblr, and Instagram.


2 Responses to Chris Hadfield, for the Guardian Weekend Magazine

  1. Rebecca says:


  2. Alysa says:

    Great post. I am really impressed with Hadfield’s posture. He should add that to his resume. Did he slouch at all during the shoot?

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