Philadelphia Photo League’s Photo Walk Exhibition at the
National Realty Art Gallery
by Laura Storck
I recently attended the Philadelphia Photo League‘s Photo Walk Exhibition at the National Realty Art Gallery in Old City on First Friday — and WOW! This exhibition documents very beautiful and insightful images from neighborhoods across the Philadelphia area from the varied perspectives of members of the Philadelphia Photo League.
Over the course of several months, the PPL documented several neighborhoods as part of an on-going photo walk series. The creation of the work was coordinated by the PPL’s “neighborhood expert”, photographer Mike Klusek. This impressive exhibit will be on display through early March.
The history and mission of the Philadelphia Photo League (PPL):
The Philadelphia Photo League is a cooperative of amateur and professional photographers who have come together around a range of common social and creative causes. The League was founded in July 2012 by a group of Philadelphia area photographers / activists who are committed to social change through the use of documentary photography. Our core mission is to help civic organization drive change through the use of photography. Our organization was inspired by the historic New York Photo League which was active from 1936 to 1951 and included among its members some of the most noted American Photographers of the mid-20th century.
In 1936 a group of young, idealistic photographers, formed an organization in Manhattan called the Photo League. Their solidarity centered on a belief in the expressive power of the documentary photograph and on a progressive alliance of ideas and what photography could become. A unique complex of school, darkroom, gallery, and salon, the League was also a place where you learned about yourself. One of its leading members was Sid Grossman who pushed students to discover not only the meaning of their work but also their relationship to it. This transformative approach was one of the League’s most innovative and influential contributions to the medium. Sixty years ago, the Photo League fell victim to Cold War witch-hunts and blacklists, closing its doors after 15 intense years of trailblazing – and sometimes hell-raising – documentary photography. From unabashedly leftist roots, the group influenced a generation of photographers who transformed the documentary tradition, elevating it to heady aesthetic heights. We hope to continue, and advance, this legacy.
We pursue our mission by creating a unique environment, where all types of serious photographers, using all types of media, can gather together to share knowledge, ideas and inspiration – plus enjoy a sense of community, while fostering positive change in our world.
The PPL is actively seeking members in order to actively contribute to it’s growth and influence. If you are a devotee of documentary or street photography, and have an interest in social causes, consider joining today. The PPL is open to all photographers, from amateur to professional.
See their amazing work on the PPL Flickr page, check out the official blog , or follow them on Facebook. The Philadelphia Photo League advertises their upcoming events via their meetup page: photo walks, classes, critiques, and exhibits, and photographing events to support and document social activism and awareness. Monthly meetings are held on the second Friday of each month at CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia, at The Philadelphia Building, 1315 Walnut Street at 7 p.m. Come meet the members of PPL, see their work and accomplishments, network, and socialize. I’ve been a member of the PPL for 2 years and I currently serve as an assistant event organizer and communications leader. Feel free to reach out to me or any of the other members of the PPL leadership team if you’d like to share any social causes or events that need promotion towards a greater awareness.
Written and photographed by Laura Storck
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