Early morning, an hour before and after sunrise, provides wonderful lighting opportunities. Sometimes it’s ethereal, sometimes mysterious, and often it’s inspirational.
Throughout my career as a photojournalist, I eagerly accepted early-morning assignments. No assignment was too early.
Early morning, an hour before and after sunrise, provides wonderful lighting opportunities. Sometimes it’s ethereal, sometimes mysterious, and often it’s inspirational — a promise of things to come. More often than not, this light would be one of the defining elements of my photographs.
For 15 years, I have been shooting photographs during that two-hour slice of time at the crack of dawn for a project I call “First Light.”
The inspiration for my “First Light” project came while I was on working on a Philadelphia Inquirer assignment about the future of Penn’s Landing.
I have always found it challenging to make dramatic images of Penn’s Landing. I tried vantage points from both sides of the river, from the Ben Franklin Bridge, from a helicopter hovering above the river. Still, I lacked a defining image.
Since the story was about the future of Penn’s Landing, I thought perhaps a sunrise would provide this missing element.
At the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, a compass is embedded in the floor of the amphitheater. As I prepared to take my shot — crouched on the ground by the compass at sunrise — serendipitously, a jogger began crossing the frame of the viewfinder. I instantly knew I had the image I needed.
As an optimist, I have viewed my life through the lens of future possibilities, and dawn is the metaphor that matches my outlook.