Germantown Photo Walk organizer wants to develop a better picture of the neighborhood

Local photographer Gary Reed isn’t organizing Germantown’s first-ever PhotoWalk because images of the neighborhood have yet to hit the internet.

Rather, when he peruses online photo albums, such as the area’s existing Flickr page, “it seems like a lot of depressing images, like boarded-up buildings. I’ve lived here long enough to know that that’s not always true of Germantown,” Reed says.

He cited “beautiful” blocks and architecture, frequent festivals, historic buildings and “great images of people” among the pictures he wishes he saw more of online.

“There are so few positive images, so you sit back and say, what’s going on here?” said Reed, who hopes the inaugural Photo Walk will help spotlight Germantown’s many beauties.

Meet at Vernon Park on June 30

The event is planned for Saturday, June 30, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

After meeting on the Greene Street side of Vernon Park, participants will fan out across the neighborhood to capture images of Germantown.

Everyone from professional photographers to kids and teens sporting cell-phone cameras is welcome.

Speaking about the event this week, Reed chafed at seeing beautiful architectural images shared via Mt. Airy’s Flickr page, when the sites are actually in Germantown.

“As people who live in the community, we need to move away from thinking that the intersection of Germantown Avenue and Chelten Avenue is Germantown,” said Reed, who has Germantown photos on his personal Flickr page. “That’s the business district.”

But as one of the busiest intersections in the entire city, with droves of commuters passing through every day, “that’s what most people see. We need to get outside that,” said Reed, a veteran of 20 similar events in Philadelphia and elsewhere.

The logistics

During a Photo Walk, participants head to prescribed areas for a certain amount of time and attempt to capture the character and life of the region, for a communal photo-gallery later displayed via digital photo-sharing sites.

For the Germantown event, maps of the coverage area will be provided to participants, and photos will be shared via a dedicated Flickr page.

Last fall, a Flickr-sponsored Philadelphia PhotoWalk drew about 200 photographers. Events like this have typically focused on Old City, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Center City or Manayunk.

Now, Germantown is getting its turn, albeit with an independent operation backed by no umbrella sponsors.

Reed said he hopes that interest in participating or seeing the images could be the push for residents not already using computers or the internet to take the plunge. It could connect to the community in a new way, he said.

“When I first proposed it, I got zero response,” Reed admitted of his Photo Walk mission.

However, interest has been slowly building to the point that Reed hopes it can become an annual event.

A brighter future

As the number of participants grows, Reed and fellow Germantown Artist Roundtable organizers envision pursuing grant opportunities. They will also seek local sponsors to aid in printing images, and gallery partnerships for photo displays.

Roundtable members eye the new Germantown Life Enrichment Center as a good spot for a party to wrap up future Photo Walks.

However, the inaugural event will be quieter than that, Reed said.

“This is more like a shake-out,” he said. “The first one is always the most difficult.”

If all goes well, plans are afoot to try a second one sometime in the fall.

“I’d be happy if 10 people show up,” said Reed, who invited potential participants to email him at Gary.Reed@gmail.com. “The world’s going to know about your little part of the world. It’s something that can inspire.”

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