Philadelphia / Nick Kelsh Photography Workshop 2016

The centerpiece of American democracy, Independence Hall, was just a few minutes from the front door of our hotel. Being there at 6:30 AM was a piece of cake—if you don’t count getting out of bed. It was beyond worth it. This is where the United States was born, and during the holiday season the city takes on a special glow.

It was pure joy and with pure pride for me to share my hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at a recent Nick Kelsh Photography workshop.  The attendees came from all over the United States and shared and celebrated  the birthplace of American democracy. The sense of history is palpable as you walk the cobblestone streets and alleys the founders trod as they made their way to Independence Hall where they changed the world forever. We stayed in an 18th-century hotel a short block from Independence Mall. Watching the sunrise on one of the world’s most famous buildings in the cool fall air was a privilege. All of us sensed it. So here are a few photographs from some truly wonderful days spent with an incredible group of women from around the United States.  it just seems like such a cliché to say that we bonded for life in Philadelphia but I honestly believe that it’s true.

A photo by Anne Kelsh in front of one of the most iconic American images. I was so proud of my city on these wonderful days.  When I first moved to Philadelphia in 1981 to accept a job as a staff photographer of The Philadelphia Inquirer, there was no doubt in my mind where in the city I would live. I wanted to be as close to the center city historic district as possible, and ended up a short walk from Independence Hall—the epicenter of American democracy—where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution had been signed. I loved walking in the front door of “my” three-story row house across the street from the 18th century cemetery that contained the remains of a Declaration signer. The idea of American democracy is very much alive on the sidewalks and in the walls of Philadelphia, and it was so much fun to share “my” Philadelphia with these wonderful photographers!


The cobblestone streets and alleyways walked by the country’s founders and Declaration of Independence signers are a constant source of visual and photographic inspiration in the historic district of Philadelphia … no matter how you look at it!


Just a few blocks from our hotel, the Ben Franklin Bridge spans the Delaware River from Philadelphia to New Jersey and served as the focus of one of our early morning shoots.


One of the local workshop participant invited her beautiful granddaughter to pose for a lighting and portrait lesson … so many members of our How to Photograph Your Life family capture the moments and people in their lives in camera, just as we did with this young lady.


Teddy Kelsh (and his brother, Alexander) got to skip a little school and come to Center City so we could practice shooting auto-focus action shots. (Photo by Patty Snively.) The boys didn’t mind playing hooky, and the photographers enjoyed meeting these boys who have grown up in the photos posted on How To Photograph Your Life.


A sunrise view of New Jersey from the Pennsylvania side.


I am certainly not above being a complete dork and repeatedly throwing leaves of joy into the air so participants can practice their action shots.  The lengths and heights I will go to to help my students improve …


The Philadelphia Museum of Art at sunset taken by Jenn Dempsey.


A modern holiday lighting job on an old historic Philadelphia building, The Ritz … history and holiday lights combined in one location.


As silly as it sounds, some of my most satisfying moments as a photographer have been watching students experience an “a-ha” photographic moment … one of those moments when something just “clicks” and the pieces fall into place.


This is Philadelphia’s Boat House Row. They may look like Christmas lights, but they are up all year long and are a Philadelphia landmark.


Of course, our excursion included a chance to follow in the footsteps of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa with a  mandatory run up the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps, otherwise known to the rest of the world as The Rocky Steps.


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