GALLERY: Photographer Captures Philly’s Mummers Spirit

With a nod to Richard Avedon, Joshua Pelta-Heller snaps strutters and spectators on a blank canvas.

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These portraits of the Mummers were inspired by one of my biggest photography influences, Richard Avedon, who sought to highlight his subjects’ personalities, often by isolating them against a plain backdrop and removing the distraction of environmental contexts. I felt that the residents of the Philly community and the members of the Mummers brigades would lend themselves well to a collection of images in that tradition, particularly for the exuberance and spirit that each person brought to the portrait. This series is intended to be a part of a broader ongoing project.

WMMR DJ Pierre Robert happened to walk by as I was shooting at 17th and JFK. Robert characteristically celebrates Philadelphia and Philadelphians in the spirit of every cultural occasion in which he’s involved, and so I decided on the spot to include him in my celebration in kind.