In Transit

 
Editor’s NoteTheresa Stigale has been a workhorse contributor to the Hidden City Daily, shooting portraits of life on 52nd Street, Woodland Avenue and the Calle de Oro a.k.a. North Fifth Street to name just a few. Here,  she takes a look at life on SEPTA in a project she began for a class at University of the Arts. Subways have been proven to be fertile ground for photographers over the years, most famously Walker Evans’s and Bruce Davidson’s portraits of passengers in New York City. Theresa’s project focused on something a little different, though. We’ll let her tell it: 

“This project started out with my attraction to the imperfections in glass, especially when they are exaggerated by artificial illumination at night, which creates unusual color temperatures. The light reflected off of glass surfaces at night was actually quite beautiful, despite its imperfections, especially in the rain. With that as my starting point, I sought to capture scenes where this scratched and defaced glass could frame or enhance the people  in my photos, or even stand alone as a statement of the actual  conditions in the SEPTA system.

“The project segued from photographing just  “night glass,”  to more a narrative of the commuter on a journey, hinting  at people’s isolation even though they were in a public place. I worked  as unobtrusively as possible, to capture authentic moments, whereas in most of my street photography I enjoy meeting new people and engaging in conversations. I used my compact Sony RX-100, which is not much bigger than my iPhone.  I never hid my camera and wore it over my coat.

“But as I was shooting I was also keenly aware that I too was being observed–usually  by jammed cars full of commuters, some glaring at my camera suspiciously. As interesting as those images would have been, I was not interested in confrontation. Occasionally it was unavoidable, though: A SEPTA worker on an El platform  pointed out in the most friendly way possible, the many cameras in which I was being recorded myself. A group of police officers in the subway concourse downtown looked at me with amusement and asked why I was taking photos but did not stop me–not that they should have. I had read up on SEPTA’s photography policies and knew that it was okay to take pictures. This was afterall, a “personal project” and I was being ‘courteous.’”

 

About the author

Theresa Stigale was born and raised in Southwest Philly. She earned a B.B.A. from Temple University in 1983. Theresa is a photographer as well as a licensed Pennsylvania Real Estate Broker, developer and instructor. In the past ten years, she has documented the loft conversion projects that she and her partners have completed in Philadelphia, from stately old abandoned warehouses covered with graffiti to vintage factories, some still active with manufacturing. Visit her web site at TheresaStigalePhotography.com.



3 Comments


  1. Nice Theresa

Recent Posts
The Physical & Political Importance Of Goldtex

The Physical & Political Importance Of Goldtex

August 29, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Loft District conversion project finally complete, Manayunk parish to preserve historic church, Temple professor talks ’64 riot, major mixed-use for NoLibs, and previewing Greenfest Philly 2014 > more

Ruminating On Lost Columbia Avenue

Ruminating On Lost Columbia Avenue

August 29, 2014  |  Soapbox

In this third installment in our series, Ethan Wallace examines the long term effects the Columbia Avenue riot has had on this weary section of North Philadelphia. Dubbed an "extinction event", Wallace sifts through the ruins of the once vibrant neighborhood while considering the encroaching development of Temple University's campus and the social unrest happening in Ferguson, Missouri. > more

'Scared Half To Death,' Reporter Says

‘Scared Half To Death,’ Reporter Says

August 28, 2014  |  Vantage

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Columbia Avenue riot. For the second installment of our series, we have a first person account by Philadelphia Evening Bulletin reporter William Naulty, who was sent in to cover the mayhem on the night of August 28, 1964. > more

Roxborough Sawmill Preserves An Old Industrial Aesthetic

Roxborough Sawmill Preserves An Old Industrial Aesthetic

August 28, 2014  |  Morning Blend

One man's mission to preserve the physical history of industrial Philadelphia, groundbreaking for Rodin Square, street mural requested for Triangles Plaza, the genesis of JFK and 30th Street Station, and this weekend's Made in America Fest > more

Bridesburg, Riverfront Neighborhood Now With Riverfront Access

Bridesburg, Riverfront Neighborhood Now With Riverfront Access

August 28, 2014  |  News

With a land swap championed by Councilman Bobby Henon, Philadelphia gained a win-win scenario with the expansion of Dietz & Watson's facilities and a new riverfront park. Plan Philly's Jared Brey and Hidden City's Brad Maule explore the future park in Bridesburg—the riverfront neighborhood which will finally have access to the riverfront > more

Rodeph Shalom As A Beacon On North Broad

Rodeph Shalom As A Beacon On North Broad

August 27, 2014  |  Morning Blend

A look at the historic Jewish synagogue’s expansion, the economic importance of bike lanes, Suzanne Roberts Theater gets $2.5 million boost, remembering the Philadelphia Trades School, and approvals from the Historical Commission > more