Philadelphia is a great city for making photographs. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or have been a resident for years, there is plenty to whet your photographic appetite. We asked photographer Bob Krist to share his favorite photogenic spots in the ‘City of Love.’
"Spring and fall are my recommended times to visit. The summers can get hot, and the winters just downright cold. But spring and fall provide the greatest chance for clear, crisp skies,” Krist says. “I try to fine tune my skyline shooting for those low humidity, crystal clear days right after a front moves through... but some clouds do help because there's nothing more boring than a plain blue sky,” he adds.
"My favorite subjects in Philly are the neighborhoods,” Krist says. “But you always need a nice establishing skyline and you can get that from South Street Bridge.” He notes that it had been closed for renovations but it's open now and offers a great view from the Schuykill River side of town.
"Old City, where the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are located, is also full of historic reenactors. Here, you can bump into a wide array of historical figures, including Ben Franklin himself, giving talks and leading walks through this historic district. Society Hill has some classic architecture and street scenes,” Krist says. “If you want to brave the crowds at the Liberty Bell, go at midday. But late afternoon, the crowds thin and it's a better bet,” he adds.
"South Street is a funky neighborhood of colorful architecture and equally vibrant people. And everywhere throughout Philly are the beautiful murals, part of an arts program that has been going on for decades,” explains Krist.
"The Ben Franklin Parkway leads to the beautiful Philadelphia Museum of Art, where you can run up the steps just like Rocky did—indeed, his "footprints" are immortalized in bronze at the top. But that perch also gives you a great shot down the Parkway towards center city,” he adds.
Bob Krist’s usual outfit for walking around shooting in cities is one or two D7000 bodies, along with a 16-85mm VR lens and a 70-300mm VR lens. “With those two lenses, I can cover just about anything,” he says. “I'll sometimes round them out with a 10-24mm and a 35mm f/1.8 for indoor or available light stuff,” Krist adds.
"The important thing when shooting a city is not to weight yourself down with too much gear, otherwise you'll be tired out by the time the nice light comes at the end of the day,” Krist concludes.
If possible, try to photograph the skyline later in the day when the lighting is softer, with saturated colors, instead of at noon when contrast is high and shadows harsh.
Historic cities like Philadelphia are great to photograph because you can often find actors in character like Ben Franklin here. Ask before snapping a photo and you're likely to get a better expression.
© Bob Krist