By Elise Vider
Other photographers on Flickr may dwell on the physical beauty of
Part photo-journalist, part portraitist, Stegeman's studies show an edgy side of
"I like architecture," he says, "but a person at a point in time is never there again. What interests me are stories - something that gives me a sense of who a person is, in a place and at a moment in time."
Stegeman always asks permission before he aims his lens, so his subjects are posed, not candid. "But it's their pose," he says. "I respect all my subjects. I won't do something that's demeaning to them."
Nor does he use a flash - too disruptive. Instead, he relies on a superfast lens on his Olympus E-30 and available light to create his moody nighttime scenes.
Stegeman's favorite Flickr group is the slightly outlaw "
His preferred subjects include the gang at Dirty Frank's, his watering hole of choice; the surreal images from Carnivolution, a circuslike West Philadelphia happening about which he plans to publish a book of photographs, and the after-dark scene on South Street.
He's been chronicling
It was "very crowded, very weird," he recalls, but he didn't find it threatening; the crowd and the police were mostly well behaved, he says. And the kids were begging him to take their photo. (Still, he got knocked over and retreated behind the rows of parked cars.)
To Stegeman, who's been shooting photos for 40 years as a "professional amateur," Flickr is a distribution medium, a way to exhibit and share his prolific visions of the city. "If you take my photographs over the next 10 years," he says, "I'll have told a story of life in
Al Stegeman appears on Flickr as "Al in Philly."
All Photos by Al Stegeman
Masthead Photo: Bikers on South St.
Text Photo 1: Girls on South St.
Text Photo 2: Woman in makeup.
Click here for a slideshow of Al Stegeman's work: