On Books and Inspiration: Portrait Reportage in Leiden

Alex Alsemgeest is a book scientist working on historic-bibliographic projects at the Royal Library in The Hague. Not surprisingly, he has a passion for books and wanted his portrait session to incorporate them as an important part of his life and identity. To Alex books mean not only a source of inspiration and an object of research but also adventure. In the summer he travels through Scandinavia hunting for special books and this hunt brings him to all kinds of exciting places. I love books myself and was immediately inspired by this story!

Alex had just published a book (you can see and order it here, it’s really beautiful) and was presenting it at Naturalis museum in Leiden. He thought Leiden was a great location for such special reportage and I couldn’t agree more. And it was really exciting that we were allowed to photograph in Bibliotheca Thysiana! It is a pearl of an old library: built in the middle of the 17th century specifically to host a library based on a rich private collection by Johannes Thysius. Still practically unchanged.

Zakelijk portret boekwetenschapper

Libraries are magical places. If you read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels you’d remember the mysterious L-space connecting all libraries and books wherever and everywhen, through time and space. Thysiana is so authentic it immediately sets you in that kind of dimension. A perfect place for Alex’s story.

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Portret in een bibliotheek

And then we also had the heart of Leiden, one of the places where Alex had studied. With its many bookshops and poems on the street walls Leiden was an ideal town for our book theme.

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Thank you for the wonderful story and a fun reportage, dear Alex!

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