Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Don't Do Signs

Avoiding "sign" shots

Don't Do Signs

I wasn't looking for a feature photo. Honest. If I were, I'd have gotten out of my car.

Driving back to Center City through the Oxford Circle neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia after an assignment in Montgomery County last week I happened to look up while stopped at a light.

One of my own personal photo rules - besides always going on foot when looking for feature photos -  is to avoid taking pictures of signs.

But how could I not shoot a sign so brutally honest in its advertising? Where else can you find everything for either 99 cents, less than 99 cents or more than 99 cents?

A few blocks later it was an arrangement of stuffed animals - that was NOT an impromptu memorial...

...and to complete my seen-from-the-car hat trick - a dismantled playground.

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
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