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Uncover Philly with Videographer Cory J Popp

Posted on Monday, November 23, 2015
Videographer Cory J Popp uniquely captures Philadelphia in his video series “Uncover Philly”

The History

Capturing Philadelphia on film dates all the way back to advent of photography itself.  An 1839 daguerreotype photo of Philadelphia’s storied Central High School by Joseph Saxton is thought to be the "oldest extant daguerreotype" photo in the United States. Saxton took his photograph using a cigar box and a crude lens shortly after Louis Daguerre announced his process in France. Philadelphia’s beautiful architecture, distinctive urban character and eclectic neighborhoods have often provided interesting subjects for photos throughout the years.
Many photographers have also found great success in capturing a much broader view of Philadelphia by photographing its skyline.  Philadelphia’s skyline was long dominated by Philadelphia’s City Hall, the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1901 and still the world's tallest masonry building. A long standing gentleman’s agreement forbid the construction of buildings over the height William Penn's hat high atop City Hall, a tradition that was sustained until the 1980s when an office building boom saw seven buildings surpass city hall in height over the course of just five years. 
Since the 1980s, Philadelphia’s skyline has grown into one of the largest and most beautiful in the country.  It also changes constantly; there are currently four buildings in Philadelphia under construction that will be among the ten tallest in the city upon their completion, including a new tallest building, the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center.  The Comcast Innovation and Technology Center was designed by world renowned architect Lord Norman Foster and will rise to a staggering height of 1,121 feet, making it the eighth tallest building in the United States and the tallest outside of Manhattan and Chicago.

As technology has evolved from Saxton’s crude daguerreotype photographic process, photographers are becoming ever more creative in how they capture Philadelphia, including with breathtaking videos.  One such videographer is Cory J Popp.  Using his unique access to the rooftops of skyscrapers across the city, Popp has captured some incredible views of Philadelphia’s skyline that make the city feel every bit the massive urban place that it is.  What is perhaps most interesting about Popp, however, is his ability to transition the scale of his subjects with ease.  While one video has Popp soaring over top of the wide expanse of Philadelphia, the next video may see him focus on just a single neighborhood or even a single small business or family, deftly showing how big and small Philadelphia can feel depending upon your perspective.

What to See

When you head over to coryjpopp.com, you’ll see Popp’s many diverse views of Philadelphia on display.  Popp has four video series on his website, each with its own focus.  In his series “Philly Makers” Popp focuses in on the hardworking and creative individuals behind local Philadelphian small businesses.  The series was praised by the Philadelphia Business Journal as a beautiful way to showcase local business owners and their stories.  Subjects include local coffee shop OX Coffee, Koliyan, a gluten free Cambodian desert business and many others.
In Popp’s series entitled “Wastelands,” Popp follows urban explorers into the abandoned buildings of Philadelphia’s past.  As Popp explores these once glorious buildings, you can see their vibrant past, as well as imagine a future in which these architectural gems could be brought back to life through thoughtful development and preservation.  One video in the series explores the Beury Building, an enormous building on North Broad Street, while another video takes us into a shuttered Tastykake Factory.

Here at The Constitutional Walking Tour, our favorite video series from Popp is probably Uncover Philly.  In this series, Popp explores many awesome places in Philadelphia.  It’s in this series that you can see shots of Philadelphia from the roofs of some of Philadelphia’s tallest buildings in a video titled “Philadelphia from Above.”  Other videos in the series will focus in on specific spots of interest in Philadelphia such as Spruce Street Harbor Park or the Reading Viaduct Tunnel.  Popp is also very skilled at capturing what it’s like to live in Philadelphia during its many diverse seasons. For example, “Philly in Bloom” captured Philadelphia as it exploded with plants and flowers in the Spring.  Meanwhile, an earlier video titled “Frozen Philadelphia” showed Philadelphia during the cold of winter, a display that Philadelphia Magazine described as capturing “what’s awesome about Philly in the winter.”  We love Popp's work so much we even included one of his video's into our recent post about boathouse row.
Popp also just recently launched an upcoming fourth video series entitled “Our National Parks.”  This new series shows Popp venturing outside of Philadelphia and traveling across America in a month long road trip in which he will celebrate 100 years of National Parks in the United States by visiting and photographing a dozen National Parks in the American Northwest.  We’re excited to see what Popp will do next, in Philadelphia and beyond!

Insider Info

If you appreciate Popp and his work, you can do more than just watch his videos.  Popp also sells stills from his videos that are as diverse in appearance as the videos that they’ve come from.  Already framed, matted and ready to hang, these gorgeous stills make the perfect gift for any lover of Philadelphia.

Also while you may not have Cory Popp’s photographic eye, nor his access to the rooftops of Philadelphia's tallest buildings, don’t let that stop you from attempting to create your own videos and pictures of Philadelphia.  Guests of The Constitutional Walking Tour have plenty of time to snap photos of some the oldest and most architecturally significant buildings in Philadelphia during our tour.  If you take a photo that you’re particularly proud of on one of our tours, you can even post in our Facebook page
We also have some tips for those who are looking to expand the scope of their photos and capture their perfect Philadelphia Skyline photo.  The truth is Philadelphia’s skyline can look radically different depending on the angle and distance from which you are photographing it.  The skyline looks great from any angle, but here at The Constitutional Walking Tour we have some favorite angles of our own.  Two bridges across the Schuylkill River, the Spring Garden Bridge and the South Street Bridge both provide excellent angles of Philadelphia's magnificent skyline.

How to Get There

No need for public transit or walking directions for this one, just head to www.coryjpopp.com!

Additional Information

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