Do you remember what happened on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015?
For the most part it was a pretty typical day in Philadelphia. It was kind of hot for October. It rained in the evening. Some people got married, some people went to work, some stayed home, some danced on rooftops. One thousand four hundred people snapped a picture of something they found curious and submitted it to a citywide photography effort, Philly Photo Day.
All those photographs go on display today at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center in Kensington. The Center had to build an additional wall in its gallery to accommodate all the 8×11 prints. They show 1,412 perspectives of the city on the same day — from images of kids and dogs, to kitchen counter still-lifes, to rock and roll mosh pits, to the curious way light plays on buildings.
“My photograph is a portrait of my daughter and one of her best friends in front of the mural at Moore College of Art,” said Amy Wilson, who snapped an image of the girls whispering to each other. “I’m always inspired by the childhood world of friendship and fantasy and the little games my daughter and her friends play.”
Another mother, Su Murphy, snapped a shot of her daughter Zoe, 12, hugging a lamb. Zoe is part of Philadelphia Manatawna-Saul 4-H club, and has raised Marigold for 8 months. In January, Marigold will go to market.
“Outwardly, Zoe has shown enormous strength in caring for Marigold so lovingly. But inwardly, I know she struggles with the reality that the near future holds,” said Murphy. “This is what this photo is about.”
Now in its sixth year, Philadelphia Photo Day has expanded its footprint, soliciting submissions beyond the city into surrounding counties, South Jersey, and parts of Delaware. On that day, Oct. 9, the Photo Arts Center held 20 photography workshops throughout the region, teaching people how to take better pictures. Many submissions came out of those workshops.
About 80 million photos are posted to Instagram daily; Facebook estimates 300 million. The 1,412 photos submitted to the Photo Arts Center may seem paltry by comparison, but Photo Arts Center education coordinator Josh Brilliant said the difference is all the images are printed out and mounted side-by-side on a real wall, not a Facebook wall.
“The most important thing is the exhibition, seeing photos on the wall, bringing the community together in the real world and have conversations in person,” said Brilliant. He expects about 800 people will pass through the exhibition during its two-hour opening reception on Thursday.
One of them is Felicia Caviezel, who submitted a picture of her five-year-old daughter standing on the concrete median of Broad Street. Ruby is wearing a red dress with red cowgirl boots (her name is Ruby, after all) striking what Caviezel calls her “power pose.”
“We worked hard with her to raise a mighty girl, a strong and powerful young lady rather than a princess,” said Caviezel. “She’s really taken to it. She loves to show off her big, strong muscles.”
Ruby was on her way to the Kimmel Center, where her father plays clarinet for the Philadelphia Orchestra.
“I felt strong and powerful. It was a special day because I got to go to the Orchestra to see my Daddy,” said Ruby.
That’s one of the 1,412 stories from one day in Philadelphia told in pictures, on view until January.