Saturday, February 13, 2016

Exceptional Cases

Photos okay - just no names or faces

Exceptional Cases


A couple of my assignments that ran in the newspaper over the weekend had similar out of the ordinary photo restrictions.  Inside the Camden County Jail for piece by Inquirer columnist Kevin Riordan, I was told I could not use names or photograph inmates' faces during a weekly meeting of women inmates in the jail's Second Chance program.






Meanwhile in Chester, Inquirer reporter Mari A. Schaefer had interviewed counselers and staff at the Boys and Girls Club so when I arrived a day or two later, the director assumed it only to photograph them. After walking past a swimming pool and playground crammed with laughing kids, through a fun-filled basketball gym and rec room to get to the office, I was told none of the young summer "campers" at the public facility had parents' releases so I none of their faces could be in any of the photographs.

I was ready, after an already frustrating day, to just bag it and make portraits of the counselors and staff quoted for the story. Then one of the counselors pointed out a number of the staff have kids at the camp so a few of them got into a game of basketball. Not the best situation, as it is closer than I'd like to get to "setting up" photos.

I was still at the club when some parents began arriving to pick up their kids, and it was suggested I get those  campers to play together for more photos. That would definitely be over the line, but it did give me a chance get okays from those parents, and shoot them leaving - to visually represent the obstacles kids in Chester face getting to a fun place.

Inquirer Staff Photographer
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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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