For a moment Saturday afternoon, the Atlanta Library's work room looked like a professional photography studio. Maybe a set for a movie.
Librarian Kendra Harrell stood between two huge umbrella lights and in the midst of three wall-size backdrops with spring flower scenes. In Kendra's hand was a Nikon camera. Her model in the center of all the lighting stood on artificial turf, seeming to be natural grass. Everyone was laughing.
"I'm not as good a photographer as this looks like," Harrell was saying.
Could have fooled most onlookers. In fact, the high-quality set up was specific for the library's purpose. "Free! Springtime Family Portraits at the Library" the announcement had read. And it was, indeed, meant to be a special occasion. The library was celebrating its members and visitors.
"It's a service we can provide and that's what a town library does. It serves," Harrell said. "Family portraits are hard to do even with a cellphone camera. Someone has to be left out and take the picture. So we decided to compliment our families and take their photographs ... for free and with a lot of fun."
The procedure is this. Sign up for the next scheduled portraiture date, usually a three-hour window of 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on a Saturday. Drop by with your family and choose your background from three backdrops.
The result will be up to five digital photos sent to you by email and one printed 8x10 photo to be picked up later. The important item here is that this professional service will be free.
"Portraits are certainly something that not so many families are doing these days or have the opportunity of time and place. But here at the library, we can provide you with something that will be valuable for a long time, a keepsake," the librarian said.
And then her next word?