Thursday, November 26, 2015

Watching You Watching

Photographing people watch TV

Watching You Watching


I was only half watching (I was still editing photos on my laptop from a morning assignment) as the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) players on the Philadelphia Independence watched the U.S. women’s team - with three of their teammates- play Japan in the World Cup final.

So my mind wandered, and I started thinking about how many times I've photographed people them watching televison, or with the tube just glowing in the background. Sometimes events unfold, and the world watches - OJ Simpson's slow speed chase. Other times the TV itself is  the event - Who Shot Jr?

A lot of times it involves sports. I recalled just a few days ago I attended another "viewing party."

It was at a local university, there was a big screen projection television, and free food - pizza.

But it wasn't an NCAA Basketball Tournament Selection show, it was at Drexel's College of Engineering, and they were watching the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis commanded by Drexel mechanical engineering alumnus Christopher Ferguson (’84).

Back to the women's soccer pros...

As Kate Harman wrote in today's Inquirer, Val Henderson - falling onto the floor above, after a missed USA goal when the game went into penalty kicks - was "loud, adamant, and rife with hand gestures...every bit the part of a goalkeeper directing her defense while watching."

More mind wandering, as I thought about twelve years ago when the U.S. women last won the World Cup title, and was waiting for a big moment. But not this time.

As close as it got to 1999 (when forward Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey after scoring the game-winning penalty kick) was an improvised serving dish on the buffet table...

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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