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Monthly Archives: August 2019

The recent PBS show on Garry Winogrand got me thinking about my own very brief attempts at street photography, mostly while living in Philadelphia.

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Walter Mondale Rally, Philadelphia, September 1984

Garry Winogrand spent his entire adult life walking the streets with a couple Leicas around his neck, shooting hundreds of thousands of negatives. I was a poor graduate student, and my camera was a tiny Rollie 35 that I bought for $25 because someone had stripped the stop pin off the lens focus, and then put the lens back on the wrong set of threads. I think I got it back together right, but I had to preselect the focus, and my photos often are out of focus in the foreground. And I didn’t shoot that much film—a few dozen rolls over a few years.

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Walter Mondale Rally, Philadelphia, September 1984

I learned that a great time to photograph was during events—like the victory parade for the 76ers, or the annual Mummers Day parade. I learned that the audience was often at least as interesting as the event. There were also political rallies, but those had a more solemn tone.

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Penn Football Game, 1984

On July 4, 1985, the Beach Boys came to Philadelphia after Nancy Reagan said they weren’t welcomed on the mall in DC. There must have been a million people there, the biggest crowd I’d ever seen. After dark, they put up eight million dollars worth of fireworks.

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Beach Boys Concert, Philadelphia, July 4, 1985

So most of these photographs are 35 years old—most of the people in them are approaching retirement. And what strikes me about them is what isn’t there—no cell phones, no ear buds. Everyone is present and paying attention.

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Outside Live Aid, Philadelphia, 1985

So, I ain’t Garry Winogrand, don’t presume to be—but these photos seem to be aging well…

I sometimes wander into antique stores, hoping to find a treasure—but almost never do. But a few days ago, I hit at least a minor jackpot—three photographs from the great woods of the northwest, during the time they were being cut.

Antique store find–Photographer and date unknown

I’m familiar with the work of Darius Kinsey, but he arranged his photographs more formally, and worked with bigger cameras, and also labeled the negatives more carefully. I’m fairly certain that these pictures are not his.

Antique Store Find–Photographer and Date unknown

These pictures are not in great shape—the mounts are aging from acid, and the photos are water stained—probably from being thumbtacked to the wall of some poorly insulated cabin, the result being water condensing between the print and the wall. But, of course, that’s part of the charm of these photos—someone looked at these pictures every day for years.

Antique Store Find–Photographer and Date unknown

I have no idea exactly where these photos were made—if anyone has any idea, please comment…