Chris Woods aims - focuses and shoots - to please. An unabashed Philadelphia booster and self-described photography addict, Woods' mission on Flickr is to show off his native city to anyone who may doubt the beauty of its neighborhoods, its inhabitants and, especially, its buildings.
Growing up here in the 70s, Woods remembers mostly trash and crime. He left Philadelphia after high school and lived around the country for many years, but grew weary of sprawl and "dry-wall-wonder" subdivisions. In 2004, a wedding drew him back to a transformed city he hardly recognized. "I couldn't believe how clean CenterCity was - and it looked so alive."
Since then, when not at his day job as a Blue Cross customer service rep, Woods wanders the city chronicling what he sees as the sense of community, the pride of place and, especially, the physical beauty of Philadelphia. "I like the fact that I'm showing off Philadelphia. When I lived out west, people didn't have an image of Philadelphia. They knew New York, Chicago, but not Philadelphia," he says. "I really want to show the city as not what people thought of it."
The city's high-style architecture is Woods' favorite subject. "I love architecture and design and Philadelphia is just an amazing place. You walk around block to block and your jaw drops," he says. Woods also portrays Philadelphia neighborhoods as "little worlds unto themselves" and is especially struck by how connected residents are to their communities - unlike the transients that proliferate out west. Woods and his trusty Canon point-and-shoot leave no section of the city undocumented; his Flickr images range from Chestnut Hill to the river wards, North to South Philly, Point Breeze to the Great Northeast.
Woods' prolific posts have drawn him a circle of admirers. One commented: "I love how you look up, around, down everywhere in Phila. (sic) to share the beauties we wouldn't notice otherwise."
Yet Flickr is more than a soapbox for promoting Philadelphia to Woods. The site, says the affable 45-year-old, is a connection to a worldwide community of photographers and urbanists. Nor is the camaraderie merely virtual. Woods and other Philly Flickrers who have met through the site periodically get together for photo outings, to socialize and to share their passion for photographable, Flickr-worthy Philadelphia.
Masthead Photos: Boathouse Row by Chris Woods
Text Photo: Self-portrait of Chris Woods
Click below for a slideshow of some of Chris Woods work: