Friday, January 6, 2012

2007 - 2012 Five Years of Philly Chit Chat. The Begining:

I have five years of memories, photos of chronicling Philadelphia and you. Ever so often up until my anniversary day of 7/7/12 I will be showcasing shots from the past. They may have a theme, or could be random, I might just want to chitchat or might be the best of the best over the 5 years as I had so much fun with those 2 listings last week. Today I am listing a few shots I took in the first year, 2007 and babbling about my beginnings. Although Philly Chit Chat the blog didn't launch until July 7, 2007, I did have another blog, one that I had started in 2006 when I lived in NYC called "Confessions of a Paparazzi"
I was living there working on a large legal case that would go to trial.

In 2007, I returned home and continued to use Confessions as my outlet for photos, but I realized there were things to photograph in Philly and they didn't fall under that title. There weren't too many celebrities here. But it would take me 7 months to come up with a new concept.
Although I did keep trying to find those celebrities I would read about in Michael Klein's and Dan Gross' column. I mentioned it to my friend Phyllis Halpern who at the time worked for Mayor Rendell. She told me she knew someone who might know someone who could help me, and introduced me to Thom Cardwell, Director of the Philadelphia Film Festival, at this event It was at this event which I posted on Confessions.
Then in April 2007 the Phila Film Festival was in full swing, and I photographed the comings and goings of people, posting them on Confessions of a Paparazzi. I would also go back to NYC once or twice a week, after work, and shoot movie premiere's, celebrity events or do some street shooting. I was torn between both cities (and still working a full time paralegal job.)
At the film festival I met interesting people (of as Joey Sweeney would call, Philebrities), and I thought to myself I can use this vehicle to write about people and their lives. Tell the behind the scenes stories of the elements that go into an event, who was there and what they were doing. I would cover all people, not just the bold names I read about in the society columns, Michael Klein's Inqlings, Stu Bykofsky or Dan Gross' gossip columns. I also wanted to chit chat about everything in Philly (ie center city), I didn't want to be limited to just covering events, I wanted to know why something happened, or complain about too many banks. I was mad when the Betsy Johnson's store closed on 18th street, and an ATM went into that prime real estate space. So I brain stormed with my good friends Kati and Simon Curtis, who I had met in NYC, and spent many a night on their couch after shooting fashion week celebs, movie premieres, The MTV Music Awards etc. A friend of mine owned PhillyGossip.com, and it was for sale. I originally wanted it, but thought I didn't always want to write about gossip. Eventually Simon had a great idea and came up with Philly Chit Chat cause I am a chit chatter. That's how that name was coined.
Sometimes celebrities did come to town: This was the annual Rhythm and Blues concert at the Kimmel Center in Sept 2007. What ever happened to this event? Chaka Khan and Patty Jackson, WDAS were there. I was equally excited to photograph both of them. I love me some Patty, and these days she is one of the best info givers around via her 411 Patty TV and on NBC10's The Ten Show on Mondays. Since I was a news junkie, these would be my "celebrities", as they still are for many people in Philly. We listen, or watch them everyday. They sign autographs at auto dealer openings, they are at charity events, they make the newspaper.
I had no idea who Brett Coppol was when I took this photo. Now I know him. Around this time I decided I would concentrate on covering charity events. I wanted to know who were the people that weren't making the society column, but were attending this event. I wanted to give them a little love too. It was hard at first to find out when an event was going to occur, and even more difficult to get the permission to shoot it. Had I only liked sports, I would have had a much easier time. I didn't watch sports, I didn't know what a real life soap opera it was, and how insatiable their fan base was.
Noel Zayas always threw great fashion events at the Bellevue in 2007. They were epic, but then he moved away for a bit. Now he's back, and I was happy to see him making a comeback in a big way last year with his own PR/Event company. In this time frame I met Michael Klein from the Inquirer, and I convinced him over a very long period that I could get the photos no one else could get (I was very naive as I had no idea the channels that normally would be taken to be in this position). We had a great 3 1/2 years working together. He was and is still a great mentor to me. (Dan Gross was also kind and helpful. Sometimes my photos would go in his column, [he published my very first pix here in Philly], but his column really didn't run a lot of photos so it was few and far between.)October 2007 at the opening of the Suzanne Roberts Theater. I've skipped a lot of info because of space restraints, but know that this job is 24/7, hustling, covering events and news that the mainstream media at the time ignored, the paper was getting thinner, they hadn't discovered the internet, there was no twitter. I remember once I called the paper in the middle of the night to say a drunk girl drove her car to the middle of Rittenhouse Square, and is resting on a tree, near the lit Christmas Tree. The guy said "is there any blood?". No everyone is fine I responded, thinking he cared. "Well if there's no blood we don't want the story." I ran it on my blog and it was one of the biggest story that year. Imagine someone being able to drive drunk to the center of the square missing people and benches. Now that's a story, and it was. (Happenstance stories are the best, and recognizing what a story is.)
Then I met Nicole Cashman via Michael Klein. I had finally made it, I was at the Holy Grail; she was the PR/Event/Publicists who represented the most important clients in the City and threw the most fabulous events I read about in the papers or saw photos in the magazines. If you were at her event, you were somebody. I'd better not screw this up or it would be back to covering charity events with middle age ladies who didn't own a computer and didn't understand that I wasn't going to put their heads on a naked body. Brian Friedman, and Laura Burkhardt. I had already met Laura, but we weren't close friends yet.
Where am I today, I didn't just want to be a social diarist, I wanted to be a gossip columnist too, I wanted to be a celebrity photographer in Philly, I wanted to promote charities and the unknown people who supported them, I wanted to satisfy my curiosity and share it with a broader audience, and I did. Then when circumstances changed, I monetized it, and it was a success, so far cross my fingers. Thanks!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love this blog & check it everyday. Congratulations for really coming full circle & finding your niche!
p.s. I enjoyed talking your ear off on NYD at the Ritz ;-)

Nell Hoving said...

You've come a long way, HughE! Love hearing about the beginning and knowing where you are now. I'm so proud of you for doing what you love and taking it full time. Not an easy thing to do, and you've done it, so naturally! Looking forward to reading Philly Chit Chat for the next 5 years.

PhillyNewsFeeds said...

Rock on man. Keep on keepin on! You run a great site!

t said...

SJP = one of the ugliest women is history!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this story. I want to hear more.
Chris