Human Diaries recently learned on Instagram about an interesting and unique hobby of two remarkable gentlemen. Brandon Friedman and Dave Taylor, friends and coworkers, have very full and busy lives but still find time to work on a fascinating idea they have for a promising project. They’ve already reached their first goal of 100+ photographs of post offices around the country; then they launched a blog. They’re still going and are working on more ideas for the future. We look forward to seeing the results of their progress in the future!
Hi Brandon. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Brandon: I’m a creative director for Moe’s Southwest Grill in Atlanta, GA. I’m also a writer, hiker, father, thinker and a lot of things that end with “er”, like post office photographer. I was born in Atlanta, GA and despite what I never thought was possible growing up, I still live in Atlanta. I’ve spent time in Ann Arbor, Michigan as well as Boulder and have traveled a decent bit across the states.
My partner in post office crime is David Taylor…
David: My name is indeed David Taylor, and I am a senior art direct for Focus Brands Restaurant Group. Husband, Father, Hiker, Designer, Businesser, twitterer, instagramer… just wanted to have more “er”s than Brandon. I too was born in Atlanta, GA and honestly haven’t gone far. I live in a house within a few miles of my childhood home. My overall goal?… Be Brandon Friedman.
Q: How long have you been working on your postal project, and what inspired you to do it?
Brandon: Nearly two years ago as I was traveling down to Rosemary Beach, which is on the Gulf Coast between Destin and Panama City, I passed a handful of small town post offices and was fascinated how every one was unique. I started thinking how cool it would be to document all the post offices in the country and create a coffee table book. It would be a combination of architecture, photography, geography, history and Americana. After all, the post offices are one of the threads of this country, and each one has a story to tell. Some of the stories can be told with a picture while others have interesting subplots that add to their character. When I returned to the office, I bounced the idea off Dave, and he was all in. We agreed not to launch our blog until we captured at least 100 post offices. As we took trips (personal and for work), we photographed every post office we passed – much to the annoyance of whoever was accompanying us. And thankfully some of our friends and co-workers contributed post office pictures as well. About a year later, we collected more than 100 and launched the postal project. We’re now a little more than 4 months in and are enjoying it more every day as our followers submit post offices from all over the country and world for that matter.
Q: Do you enjoy it?
A: We enjoy it more than we ever thought was possible. Receiving postal submissions is like unwrapping a birthday gift from an acquaintance. You never know what you’re going to get, but odds are it’s something you don’t have. And sometimes, it’s just plain magical. We’re dorks, we know.
Q: How many post offices have you photographed (or had photographed and sent to you) so far?
A: Before we officially launched #thepostalproject, we compiled about 110 post offices. Thanks to our awesome followers, we’ve got more than 900 and collect 5 to 10 new ones a day.
Q: Have you received any pictures of post offices from the past that no longer exist? Are they also included in your project?
A: We have received a handful of pictures of abandoned post offices. Initially, we were hesitant to post non-functioning ones since we only do one post a day. But as we collected some of these stunning retired post offices, we realized they are truly a part of the USPS history and need to be shared.
Q: How do you get people to send you pictures?
A: We’ve got a handful of friends who will always text or email pictures of post offices when they travel. As for instagram, we initially scoured certain hashtags, encouraging people to tag their pictures with #thepostalproject. Although we still look, now we’ve got a loyal fan base, including some postal workers and heavy travelers that not only submit pictures but encourage others to do the same.
Q: Are they given photo credit in the book?
A: We always give credit unless it’s a pic that one of us took.
Q: What are some of your favorite post offices, and why?
A: Great question. A few that come to mind:
Seaside – this is the one that truly sparked the whole idea
Freedom, Wyoming. It’s on the border of Idaho and Wyoming and it is so simple.
Lake George, Minnesota – It seems like it’d be in a Wes Anderson’s movie, Moonrise Kingdom.
Q: What unique aspects can you share with us (smallest, largest, most decorative)? Any surprises along the way?
A: Smallest – Both the Everglades post office and the one in Wheeler Springs, California claim to be the smallest in the world. Maybe we can get an official to measure it and settle this once and for all.
Best architecture – There are a ton to choose from, but the San Antonio downtown Post office and courthouse is absolutely breathtaking.
Most mobile – Camp Meeker California has a trailer for a post office.
As for surprises, we’ve definitely got a few in the near future.
Q: Is your coffee table book ready, or when will it be? Where can it be ordered? What formats?
A: The coffee table book is still in our heads, but will definitely come to fruition. Just don’t know when and how we’ll design it. Will it cover all the post offices or just our favorites? TBD.
Q: Can you think of any uses for your book, such as in the classroom?
A: Haven’t thought about that until now, but it could be used for a few different purposes. Potentially photography, architecture, history. Actually, you just gave us a completely different idea of how this could be used. Thank you!!! We’ll tell you down the road.
Q: Are you satisfied with what you have accomplished thus far?
A: Absolutely. This was in our heads for a while so we’re really happy that it’s in motion and continues to gain momentum.
Q: Do you find it challenging to balance your time between your personal life, your job, and your project?
A: Yes. Yes. Yes. The one thing that probably lacks in all of our lives is free time. Dave and I both have young kids and demanding jobs that we love. We usually post right after our kids have gone to bed or when we have a few free minutes. Fortunately, that coincides with the peak time that most people are on Instagram.
Q: Does anything you do in one of these areas help out with what you do in any of these other areas of your life?
A: Good question. I think it helps us look at things differently. Not to take things for granted just because they’re always there. To appreciate all of the nuances.
Q: What plans do you have for the future?
A: Once we’ve covered the U.S., there’s a good chance we’ll take this international. In fact, we’ve already got a ton of submissions from Australia, Europe and Asia.
Q: Where else have you been featured?
A: Although a few have asked permission to regram our posts, such as the USPS, this is our first feature piece per se. And we’re quite flattered!
Q: Any humorous stories you want to share with our readers?
A: Most of the humor probably happens on the backside between the two of us as we trash talk each other. You see, Dave and I alternate days that we post, and we’re both very competitive. Fortunately, my posts always outgain his. ☺ Kidding, or am I?
Q: What do you think of Human Diaries?
A: We love the concept of Human Diaries. We’re all so overwhelmed via the news and social media with all of the atrocities that are going on domestically and abroad. It’s nice to highlight the good things that people are doing to make the world better. We believe positivity is as contagious as a yawn. The more people are surrounded by positive experiences, the more likely they are to do something for the better good. So thank you for doing what you do!