Philly In Deep Water

Film Club

The recent flooding from Hurricane Ida inspired this project by @slow.nose.
The framing and composition of the photos captured this rarity in an interesting way which is why we chose to interview the photographer about the experience

Q: What was your intention behind taking these photos? 
A: The biggest thing I wanted to do was capture the gravity and scale of the flooding. A lot of my film photography inspirations document parts of the country and the world that don’t otherwise get photographed, and I think that definitely has shaped what I want out of photography myself. I actually tend to shoot pictures of people (portraits for friends/people who request or parties and events), but when I got a chance like this I had to just go and shoot it. I figured with all of the historical events we keep living through, especially when there are worse ones happening around the country at the same time, this would get forgotten, but I wanted to capture it so it didn't happen quite as quickly.

Q: What was most jarring or interesting for you to see when out shooting the flood? 
A: When I woke up and heard this wild commotion outside on a weekday morning, I checked to see what was up. And when I heard the river had flooded, I grabbed my cameras and left - I knew this had to be something big. I didn’t really realize at the time how bad it actually was though. The most jarring thing to me was the fact that I was on the river walk two days before with friends, and now suddenly it isn’t even visible - even the light poles are half underwater. It wasn’t until I was wrapping up around South St. Bridge that I heard that part of the riverwalk was destroyed. I think seeing the riverwalk broken off and getting hit by the current and seeing how many cars and homes were under the water was unexpected. It was definitely a reality check on Ida’s impact in the North East.

Q: What camera were you using and what film type?
A: I shot all these pictures all on a TLR, a Minolta Autocord on Kodak Portra 400.

Q: Which photo do you like the most out of the series and why? 
A: Picking just one is tough… I’ll give my two favorites. The basketball court and the broken riverwalk centered with the bridge in the background. That basketball court is always full with people playing, but it was such a juxtaposition seeing it filled with water quite a few feet high. And I think it does a good job showing scale since a basketball hoop is a standard height. The broken riverwall just felt so isolated in the middle of the water and showed everyone how real this storm and flooding was, and that everyone was affected in some way, not just those who live in that direct area.

Q: Was it difficult to navigate through the water with your camera to get the pictures you wanted? 
A: I think this was where my biggest limitation was. I really wish I had been better equipped to trek through some of the water, but also with the speed of the current that probably would have been a bad idea anyways. The toughest thing was getting the angles I wanted - because of how high the water was, pretty much my only options were to go as far down as possible on some of the staircases and ramps, and shoot from there. I remember to take the picture with the broken part of the riverwalk centered, half of me was leaning off the stairs just so the angle wasn’t that high.

Q: Is there anything that you wish you had captured but didn’t?
A: As I was mentioning earlier, the angles were really tough to get how I wanted. I had this picture in mind where I shot the broken riverwalk a bit closer and in the foreground, with the bridge and 30th St. Station in the background with the crane fully in frame, but it was just impossible with how fast and high the water was. Outside of a specific picture I had in mind, I would have liked to capture the human aspect too: all the people on the bridges putting their day on hold to look at what had happened, all the people who lived in the affected homes, and everyone whose daily routine was impacted. It really felt like a different Philly than I’d ever seen before.

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