Barry Shainbaum [Hope and Heroes]

Julia Butterfly Hill © Barry Shainbaum Studios

Activist Julia Butterfly Hill, went on a mission to save the endangered California redwoods from clear-cutting. To protest their destruction, she made one of the 20 storey trees her home for two years.


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Steve put together a package on me, he's a promoter with a track record in the music industry and other areas, and he started checking out these people's phone numbers and fax numbers and the first person we got was Dr. Robert Schuller, the Pastor from the Crystal Cathedral. (God loves you and so do I, to use his phrase) and secondly, we got Dr. Laura - Dr. Laura Schlessinger who I admired for the way she helped people to get to the heart of the matter. Later, she wanted me to drop someone from the book that she didn't like. When I refused, she withdrew.

So you know, bit by bit, by trial and error, the project progressed. Meanwhile, Steve had a few other stakes in the fire and somewhere along the line, I knew I needed someone who could commit their energy to it. I put an ad in the Toronto Star and it said, "Photographer looking for a publicist to work on a book project." I had a few inquiries and one particularly interested me, her name is Shannon Fitzgerald and we met for coffee in Yorkville. I was impressed by her qualifications and by her energy so I hired her. I took a new space on Spadina where were are now and she suggested that she just work out of my place which was even better because it was nice having someone on hand and someone to talk to 'cause I'm fed up as a photographer - we face too much isolation.

Shannon called herself "Director of Marketing for Barry Shainbaum Studios" and she approached people as Steve had done capably for six months, and we just continued working on the list. Since that time, we have confirmed 47 people for Hope and Heroes - Portraits of Integrity. She worked for a year for me, approaching people.

In addition to being a publicist, Shannon is also a singer who used to have a band. She's done some acting, she's done a TV show in Los Angeles and now she's in L.A. working in the movie business. She's multitalented, so I brought her in to be one of two writers for the book. The second writer is Madelaine Palko, who is a Communications Consultant. The majority of the questions I asked in the interviews were written by David Schatzky. I had met him on a shoot at Vision Television years ago - a show on baby boomers who were talking about their lives and I was impressed by him. He went from CBC broadcaster to psychotherapist. When I did the interviews for these people, I asked the majority of his questions, plus my own specifically tailored to each particular situation.

I know that I'm digressing a bit, but over this time period, I had been reading all the popular self-help books. What I couldn't understand was that in all these self-help books - they all had a similar message: a belief in yourself and faith and setting goals and a higher power and every single book I got had the same theme and it was hard to understand because I had grown up being capable and now, I didn't seem capable anymore. And at first, I didn't get the spiritual connection but bit by bit I understood it's how the world works. And without sounding corny about it, it all sort of boils down to love. Love for yourself and believing in yourself and other people. Self-esteem; a sense of self-confidence. One book I read was by Dr. Nathaniel Branden, The Psychology of Self-Esteem. And now I'm so proud that he's in my book. One thing I found interesting was that when we were sitting at his office at home in Beverly Hills, he said, "Well, let me ask you a question..." and I replied, "I'll answer your question, but I'll be quoting from your book". I was acknowledging that he was one of the people who inspired me and that now forms a part of the book.

I realize that you need certain tools. You need intent, you need focus or direction and you need desire, or need. If you're missing any one of those things it can't happen. You're starting right from the beginning, just like a child learning to walk.


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