Last week I got to meet the organizers behind the Black Star Film Festival, which is taking place right now in Philadelphia. Philadelphia Weekly sent me to photograph them for the paper, and the organizers set up the shoot to take place at the Barnes! I had the cover last week for my 24 Hours in Philadelphia shoot, and I am thrilled that my photo landed on the cover again.
The group is an amazing collection of movers and shakers who are dedicated to art and the process of Making Things Happen. They are full of the kind of energy that makes me feel like the world, for all of it’s problems, is headed in the right direction. They were incredibly positive, and kind, and put up with quite a lot of posing to get these final shots.
To the left, you might notice that they call me (and my photo-idol, Kyle Cassidy) “ace local lens-warriors”. I have to admit, when my boots are on the street at 3AM and I’m armed only with a sensor in glass and plastic, sometimes it feels that way.
I started working for Philadelphia Weekly in January, and since then I have met politicians, actors, musicians, filmmakers, organizers and chefs. I have met people who Do Things. I have met people that care deeply about the world and have applied themselves to making it better, even if that just means that it’s more fun.
The chef at Honey’s, for example, cares deeply about the taste of his food. Meeting someone that devoted and talented made me think about the kind of devotion I want to bring to my own work. The performers at Rasputin’s room are polished and delightful, joyful and fun. The servers at Lucha Cartel are knowledgeable about their food and can construct you a drink pretty enough to win a beauty contest.
In 2011, I was laid off from my job. The grant ran out and I was left wondering what comes next. When PW hired me, I found myself, for the first time, doing a job I love every moment of, for people that respect me. In my past employment, though I always got good marks for my performance, I was in these pink-collar, go get my coffee type jobs, even when I was placed in management. I never felt respected, because I was always fetching lunch for a pack of male executives.
Now, in this job, I’m sent to lunch, but not to pick it up for anyone else. Now I get to go photograph some of the most tasty, beautiful food in the city, made my incredible chefs. Now I don’t pick up lunch, now I get to eat it.
It’s not a small thing to be a female photographer. Most of the photographers I see who show up to photo-calls are men. Photographers have a powerful role to play in what you see and how you see it. We choose the angle, the light, and it is in our eye that you are given a fraction of a second’s look into what we saw.
I did not realize how odd it was that I was hired until a few of these photocalls went by. It isn’t that I feel that I was a risky hire; I’m an energetic photographer with a quick turn-around who is willing to work long hours, but I can’t deny that I am an unusual hire in the world I work in.
Yet I was hired, and the people who hired me continue to give me assignments that are interesting, challenging, and enlightening.
Unlike my other jobs, where credit was handed out to the folks above me, now credit lands right next to the work I do, under every picture, my name.