Tricks Are Treats
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

Randall Whitehead likes to play with dolls. I’m serious: The man is so enamored of dolls that he’s written a book about them. Available this month, “Lost Dolls: The Hidden Lives of Toys” presents photographs Whitehead has taken of discarded, oddly modified and loved-to-the-stuffing dolls that have captured his eye at flea markets, yard sales and street bazaars all over the world. He says the dolls called to him, demanding their tales be told. You can find out more about it at It’s really fascinating stuff.       

But it’s not quite what you’d expect from a man famed for his expertise in the realm of residential lighting. His previous books, packed seminar slate, consulting gigs, monthly Last Word in Lighting columns for Residential Lighting and myriad turns as the spokesman for our industry all stem from his status as lighting guru. Who knew that there was—shut your mouth!—more to his life than lighting.

Yet, if you’ve been to any of his speaking engagements or read any of his works, you’d have suspected he had other tricks up his sleeves. His sardonic wit absolutely bleeds through, making some rather technical topics not just more palatable, but actually compelling and entertaining. (Check out his debut webinar, “Last Word in Energy-Efficient Lighting.") He brings his individuality to the world of illumination with captivating results.

We all have something unique to bring to the table, but we’re often too caught up in the business of things or shyly prefer to keep personal passions to ourselves because we can’t imagine what they would have to do with lighting. But fresh perspectives and attitudes and outside influences can spark the most unexpectedly clever and creative inspirations.

We have two wonderful forums for social interaction: the annual Accessories Resource Team (ART) and the American Lighting Assn. conferences—most especially during panels and workshops when people are obliged to speak out or during networking and recreational events when they finally let their hair down. Let’s share our quirks and open our minds to new avenues.

That said, whoever took that picture of me all tied up in an over-eager lasso demonstrator’s rope during the ALA Conference’s Sunday night “Fiesta in Texas”—we need to talk.


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