Shedding light on both sides of the shale story

A photographic exhibit of Marcellus Shale drilling is making at stop at the Gershman Y in Center City Philadelphia. Six accomplished and award-winning photo journalists have spent several years traveling across the state to document the shale gas boom.

Cows grazing beside a pipeline, picturesque farmhouse landscapes framed by drill rigs lighting up the night sky, and the portrait of a pig-tailed toddler wearing a patriotic T-shirt are just a few of the pieces on display.

Each photographer aims his or her lens at the natural gas rush in a unique way. But the project’s leader, Brian Cohen, says they all wanted to shoot the highly polarized subject objectively.

“There’s a lot of heat generated by this subject but not a lot of light. And I wanted this project to shed some light. It’s a very complex story,” he said. “It’s very nuanced. It’s not black or white.”

The exhibit includes shots of residents who have benefited from gas drilling as well as those who have suffered.

“Anybody who tells you that natural gas drilling is all good, all the time, is not telling you the whole story,” he says. “And anybody who tells you it’s all bad all the time is not telling you the whole story either.”

Cohen says those on opposite sides of the natural gas drilling debate could interpret the same photograph in two different ways.

One perspective, however, is missing from the show — intimate shots of the gas industry.

Despite repeated attempts, Cohen says, gas drillers would not participate in the project.

The show will continue through mid-February.

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