When we arrived at Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal that morning, I had a little more than feasting on the market’s overwhelming array of delicious food on my mind. In each of the times we’ve visited the food mecca. I’ve taken pictures of the food, the signs and just about everything else with the glaring exception of the people who crowd the area. Knowing full well, that photographing strangers, especially those stuffing their face can be risky. I did my best to be quick and unobtrusive. With the constant movement and foot traffic adding to the bustling energy of the market. I wasn’t given many opportunities to focus or shoot. However, that Amish breakfast was more than enough fuel fo what was a pretty long drive from Jersey City. Reading Terminal is one of my favorite pit stops during any visit to Philadelphia. I highly recommend stopping by, shopping and filling your belly. “Come Hungry. Leave Satisfied!”
In years past each of my trips to the city of Philadelphia involved a number of defined moments and fulfilling ‘must do’ lists. Tony Luke’s Cheesesteaks, Pat’s King of Steaks, Gino’s Steaks and The Reading Market. With one particular trip fondly named “The Great Cheesesteak Chase”, where me managed to chow down at each of the three cheesesteak landmarks in one fateful day. All great memories considering the amount of consumption and downright gluttony involved. Becoming a vegetarian some years back served as a change of plans as well as destination.
While I sometimes miss the idea of wrapping my hands around a juicy steak and cheese with flavorful onions. Passing up these long time favorites has allowed me the opportunity to spend that time exploring in order to take home a few worth while images. Not having a belly full of meat to weigh me down has inspired me to walk more and perhaps walk the lesser travelled streets in search of an eye catching image to put on my wall or share on my blog.
I do my best not to block the sidewalk, be intrusive or act like a clueless, self involved tourist. Photographing the things that draw my eye as well as my imagination. Cautiously recalling my last predawn trip to Philly’s Chinatown when, while photographing the alleyways of the area. I was greeted by a naked Chinese man having a smoke in one of the doorways. My goal being to document my travels without turning each one into a documentary. Ultimately, a person can often learn a lot about where he’s going when he can look back where he’s been.
As we walked down South Street in Philly I notcied this gentleman sitting quietly by the storefront meticulously carving his wooden statue. I began to lift my camera to steal a shot but decided instead to move closer and engage him in conversation. I said hello and asked a few questions about his tecnique and how long it took him to turn a piece of wood into a work of art. He was more than happy to share his ideas and our conversation grew from there. I told him how at an early age I became a fan of Reggae. How artists like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, Yellowman, Black Uhuru and Steel Pulse were major contributors to my growing up. The shops owner soon emerged from the store in a Bad Brains shirt and greeted me with a smile. I couldn’t help but share my story of how my date and I left our Senior Prom early in order to see the Bad Brains perform. The experience reminded me what I enjoy most about traveling. Everywhere I go in this world the streets and stores look more and more alike. There’s a Starbucks and a McDonalds on virtualy every corner. There’s a GAP and an Old Navy in every city. I can get that whether I’m in NYC, London or wherever. What’s important is the people you meet and the stories you come back with. That’s what makes it important to me.
Travel and life in general is all about taking detours and exploring roads less traveled. This weekend while crossing the Betsy Ross Bridge into Philadelphia we sited an interesting old building to the left of us. Many is the time I’ve traveled the highways and routes and wondered about the history and stories of the old buildings that stood off to the sides. This time I was intrigued enough to take that exit and do a little exploring of my own. We exited and followed our instincts back to the old building. What turned out to be an old power plant wasn’t quite as interesting close up as it was off the bridge. Regardless, we stopped and got out to take some shots and explore the nearby railroad tracks.
As I was photographing the garbage and refuse left on the abandoned tracks I noticed three kids approaching in the distance. I could just make out their figures as I gazed into the hot sun. It was like something out of a post apocalyptic movie. I continued to shoot images of the warped LP’s as the grew closer. Just as they reached me they stopped in their tracks and asked what I was taking pictures of. It was somewhat surreal. Here were these kids with no shirts, no shoes walking the rail road tracks. It reminded me a lot of my childhood. From as far back as I can remember we spent much of our time playing on and exploring construction sites and running around in the train yard over in Sunnyside Queens. It seems like much of my childhood was spent ignoring “No Trespassing” signs and entering restricted areas. This trio was very friendly and inquisitive. Asking me lots of questions. Never displaying an ounce of fear or hesitance. Much like I was as a kid. It really brought me back. As I get older I hope to keep some of that adventurous spirit with me.