‘Perfect shooting weather’ for Lower Germantown’s Photo Walk event

The success of June’s first-ever Germantown Photo Walk, helmed by local photographer Gary Reed, didn’t reduce Germantown Artist Roundtable organizers’ anxiety over attendance at the second one on Saturday morning.

“What if nobody comes?” Reed said some Roundtable members had worried.

During the June 30 photo walk, close to 50 photographers took in Vernon Park, Germantown Avenue, Maplewood Mall and the Grumblethorpe grounds. The September 8 Photo Walk met at Happy Hollow Playground before heading out on a route through Lower Germantown.

No need for concern

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Organizers shouldn’t have worried. About 20 photographers met at the gate of Happy Hollow Rec Center at 9 a.m., some girded with multiple packs of gear and some carrying only a smartphone. They snacked on watermelon pieces and nervously watched the overcast sky.

The clouds were mixed blessing for an outdoor photo event.

“It’s perfect shooting weather,” according to Lansdowne resident Jeremy Fountain who first explored the neighborhood during June’s photo walk.

Of Saturday’s cooler temperature and the clouds’ diffuse and gentle light, he added, “It’s a like a big soft-box in the sky.”

On the other hand, no one wanted their expensive cameras to get wet.

“I did an anti-rain dance this morning,” Reed said in his welcome to the participants, promising them that the forecasted storm would hold off.

Off they went

The group began by winding their way through the Happy Hollow playground and up a steep, shady path past overgrown tennis courts.

The morning glories were still out as the photographers emerged on Pulaski Avenue and headed toward Wayne Junction.

Shooters immediately pounced on Trudy Green, a block captain who was grooming the curbs with a cracked plastic dustpan and brush. She laughed to find herself in a swarm of lenses during her Saturday morning chores.

On the sidewalk, an exuberant 3-year-old on his Big Wheel offered high-fives.

The group then ambled on to the Pulaski Zeralda Community Garden, swatting mosquitoes as they photographed late-summer vegetables and plate-sized morning flowers, zooming in on happy pollen-doused bumblebees.

“When you drive, your eye tends to focus on big things. You focus on what’s wrong,” said participant Pat Urevick, an amateur photographer who enjoys capturing people, on the pleasure of taking in a neighborhood on foot. “When you walk, you go more slowly. You get a false impression when you drive.”

Good angles

Saturday’s walk afforded ample time to shoot the breeze with a man selling a cart of large green watermelons at Berkley Street.

Pulaski Avenue resident Sydney Millwood spoke graciously to the photographers who swarmed up the steps to where he sat on his deeply shaded porch, beside a faded Obama poster.

Next, the group admired the rusting hulk of the old Vicks Vapo-Rub factory. Photographers clustered like ants to honey around the broken window-panes that allowed their lenses a peek at the factory’s gritty, graffiti-scribbled interior, still lit by dusty slashes of morning sun.

Thanks to Reed’s perseverance in securing the permission of Wayne Mills Company’s president, Martin Heilman, the photographers went on to take in the stark grounds of the old mill, to a small audience of bemused staffers.

Then, on the way to Loudon Park, a lucky few captured a leggy young turkey pecking behind a chain-link fence festooned by trash.

Later, historian Eugene Stackhouse welcomed the sweaty crew to Hood Cemetery, better known as the Lower Burial Ground.

“Don’t worry, you won’t hurt ’em,” Stackhouse assured wary photographers as he led the way across the graves to show off the plot’s best-known underground denizens.

Saturday’s Photo Walk images can be viewed on the group’s dedicated Flickr stream.

Upcoming event

Next week, images from both the June 30 and Sept. 8 Photo Walks will be featured at a special outdoor slideshow event at the parking lot of the old Germantown Settlement Charter School.

Photo Walk participants interested in submitting their pictures for the Sept. 15 event should send their images to Gary Reed at garyreed@gmail.com no later than Wednesday.

The free, family-friendly event will run from 6-9 p.m. (rain date: Sept. 29). Live entertainment will include music by Miles Thompson (recently seen at the Philadelphia Folk Festival), Karen Smith, Lenny Belasco, Kenny Art N Soul, Steve Ladner and Matt Sowell.

There will be face-painting for the kids, and Mystique the magician will also perform.

Food trucks including Zea Mea’s Kitchen, Birds of Paradise, and Cupcake Carnivale will also be on hand, as well as water ice and pretzels by caterer Chip McKinley. The event is sponsored by Philly Office Retail, Pik a Panel True Value Hardware, Germantown Theatre Centre, and the Germantown Life Enrichment Center.

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