Turning the Mundane into a Photo Essay

Twice a week, I have a routine: park my car on 21st Street, walk to the Philadelphia Shambhala Center, meditate with friends, and afterwards head to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few items. In the two years I’ve been living in this city, the routine has become second nature.

Last night, I mixed things up a bit by toting along the Nikon Digital SLR I usually reserve for special occasions. Viewing the photos afterwards opened my eyes to the inherent beauty of my seemingly mundane routine.

Studiying the picture of Sansom Street after dusk, for example, I was struck by the thought: “Holy metropolis, Batman, that street is old!” As a Minneapolis native who relocated to Philadelphia in 2011, I remember having been impressed with the rowhouses and seemingly-ancient streets when I first moved here. More and more often now, I find myself taking them for granted.
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On my walk to Trader Joe’s, I stopped at 21st and Chestnut where a frame shop window displayed some of its wares.
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Even though I’ve probably walked past this mural a dozen times, it wasn’t until last night that I noticed it–all lit up by streetlamps at nightfall.
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I made my usual stop at Trader Joe’s and as I was leaving, snapped a photo of a semi-truck parked by the loading dock.
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Walking back to where I’d parked my car earlier, I passed under a train bridge. After dark, this little pocket of the city was aglow with electric blue street lighting.
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The area around 21st St & Arch was eerily quiet (not to mention humid) by 9 p.m. on this Friday evening. The viewer might get a sense of this in the next few photos . . .
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Placing my grocery bag into the trunk, I hopped into the car and set my camera down on the passenger seat. On my way home, the light turned red at an intersection next to 30th Street Station. I took the opportunity to reach for my trusty Nikon and capture this final photo before the light turned green again. The station’s architecture is an example of Classical Revival style. Truly magnificent!
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6 comments

  1. Anonymous

    Gina Marie – where should I begin. Your initial photo of Sansom St. brought me back a gazillion yrs. to when my friends who went to the PA Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) would go to classes at the old satellite bldg. that existed very close to your pic’s location on Chestnut/Sansom Sts. before they expanded into their huge spread north of Cherry St. And the Trader Joe’s – my husband and I are wracking our brains as to what exact street that’s located – we love Trader Joe’s! Your photos (as said before by other post-ers) are far from mundane. You’ve really come full circle w/your capturing of this most beautiful city we both love! What a great post.

    • Thanks for your comment, Patricia. And how funny that you popped up as “Anonymous,” although I have to admit that the default gravatar made me giggle.

      I heart PAFA, having recently enrolled in one of their Community Ed programs (which I very much enjoyed) and also visited their “Female Gaze” exhibit last spring. Their permanent collection is exquisite, as well. You’re fortunate to have trained at such a prestigious institution. I didn’t realize they once had a satellite building in the Rittenhouse neighborhood!

      I sing praises for Trader Joe’s on a regular basis. Perhaps I’ll dedicate a post to them someday. 😉

      Happy Sunday!

      • Funny what you notice behind the lenses of a camera. It reminds us of the beautiful of what would otherwise be seen as mundane.

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