I’ve been talking about it for a year now, PhillyChitChat’s 10th Anniversary, but still didn’t know what to say. I jotted a few important things down this morning….
Today is PhillyChitChat’s 10th Anniversary. I’m so excited to have reached the goal I set out to do a decade ago which was to chronicle Philly’s Social Scene and create a media distribution company (which now seems to be called “content provider”) shooting parties and then placing photos, stories gathered daily in media outlets mostly in Philly, but my work has appeared nationally. Who can forget the car driving down the Art Museum Steps, or Kendra Wilkenson renting an apartment at Liberty One (that appeared in US Magazine after I sold the story to them,) or Kate Plus Eight and her boyfriend at the Red Ball holding hands; (Wow that brought me a lot of hate mail)
Taken at the McDonald’s on South Broad Street in 2007 (Us Magazine)
Since I was a little kid, I was always the one friends and family would come to and ask what the latest chit chat happening, and I enjoyed sharing it; dad called me Hedda Hopper (google it). Fast forward to when I was a paralegal at a law firm, Kohn, Swift & Graf, (yes I took those pixs on the website) where at one time one of the partners told me I had to stop gossiping and concentrate more on my work. Eventually in the 1990s I would become the traveling paralegal of the firm, yes Mike Toub this part is important to my story….
KSG, specifically my boss Bill Hoese, sent me to NYC to work on a great case. I figured out how to live there cheaper than commuting every day thus crossing off a goal I wanted to do all my life – live in NYC. After working 8 – 12hr days, I found I still had time to explore, and discovered I liked chronicling the celebrity nightlife in Manhattan. It was so much fun, and this was before many of the current celebrity sites were online, before FB got big, or twitter or Instagram were added to the Webster Dictionary.
At the urging of Mike Toub (hubby) I started a blog about photographing celebrities, the photographers, the fans, the professional autograph seekers, basically the whole scene called Confessions of a Paparazzi. It was exciting time, I had a knack at finding out info on where the celebs would be, and using the info to my advantage where celebrity photographers would let me tag along with them as long as I didn’t get in their photos. The blog allowed me to share these adventures with a larger audience. I also contributed stories and photos to Perez Hilton and Gawker for links back to my blog.
A few of my paparazzi friends at the Waverly Inn in NYC capturing Anne Hathaway and her boyfriend in 2007
After returning to Philly when the assignment was up, surprisingly to none, I became a professional celebrity photographer. I would continue to travel to NYC to photograph celebrities for the next 5 years after work, over night and then would go to work in Philly the next day very tired. It was a lot of fun. All my vacation days – 4 weeks, were spent living in NYC so I could pursue my hobby.
Thanks to my friends Simon and Kati Curtis for letting me sleep on their Manhattan couch for most of those four years (2007 – 2011).
I met Simon (left) in 2005 during my early days of celebrity stalking, er I mean as a blogger. It was the best of times. It was the day after this photo was taken at our July 4th 2007 Party here in Philly, where Simon, Katie, Mike and I brainstorm a name for my new blog, which would allow me to post and write about happenings, and conversations in Philly. Simon came up with the name – Philly Chit Chat. That name was a great catch all for what I wanted to cover in Philly. On the right in this photo are my good friends Greta Greenberger , longtime tour director of Philly City Hall and Alan Greenberger. (Eventually Allan would become a deputy mayor under Mayor Nutter. At no time did Allan or Greta ever tip me off to anything regarding the City; and I never asked them. I had other sources and I really appreciate them as I was able to break so many stories that definitely helped propel my blog upward.
Thom Cardwell and Phyllis Halpern (I guess it was before I learned how to pose people)
Let me back up a few months before this, I returned to Philly in Jan 2007; I was really depressed as the nightlife here as far as I could tell was non-existent, or only on Saturday night. I told my neighbor Phyllis Halpern how I wanted to chronicle the scene in Philly as well as photograph celebrities. She brought me to a party and she introduced me to Thom Cardwell who was with the Phila Film Festival, an organization which feted celebrities during their film festivals and sometimes beforehand. Thom along with James Duggan mentored me the for about 6 months,
taking me to parties with “celebrities” and local notables. It’s a good thing our town loves our on air talent, I did too, and I was grateful that they allowed me to photograph them.
The first photo (March 2007) I had published in Philly press was in Dan Gross’ Philly Gossip Column; Sure this shot is about Vince Fumo meeting Angie Everhart at a movie screening at the Prince on Chestnut, but Vince had a red string on his wrist. I had seen this string before on Madonna, and knew it was to ward off evil. Vince was just about to be sentenced. I told Dan about it and he got the whole story; but when the photo was edited for the paper their wrists were cut off. It drove me crazy, but I was still thrilled to be published. My career in the papers was short lived as Dan told me the DN didn’t have a budget for shots like these, even if they were great shots.
One of the first Inqling’s contributions. Tony Luke Jr. and cast of “The Nail: The Story of Joey Nardone” eating at Victor’s in South Philly
I was a huge fan of both Dan and Michael Klein, Philly Inquirer – Inqlings; probably more of Michael as he wrote nice stories about people, where Dan got juicy with his stories. I knew for longevity my stories had to reflect how I lead my life. – I was a big fan of Inqlings. I read it every time it was published. A lot of those times they had celebrity sightings from the night before; having worked in NYC with PR/talent I knew he must have been getting tipped off beforehand as columns have deadlines. I convinced him I could get shots of the celebrities at Philly places, and I would also bring him interesting content for his the column. He gave me a shot, and I went on to contribute to his column for 4 years before he retired it. After Mike retired his column I was able to convince Dan to pick up a few of my shots, even if unpaid. To me I needed a great place to put my celebrity shots, and at events I got plenty of them. First I tried in Philly Mag, but it just didn’t work out. I always liked seeing them in the “paper” or online for the paper. Thanks to both these guys for allowing me to contribute to their columns.
He introduced me to Nicole Cashman, a maverick in her own right, she’s always had the best clients to cover and the rest is history. Klein wanted a shot from the opening of G Lounge for the column. It was Nicole’s client.
This is the shot that appeared in Inqlings from GLounge Opening with a guest, then in the brown jacket Dave Warren, John Clark and Gervase Peterson, Survivor star. We had a lot of reality stars in Philly, especially chefs. I first photographed Cheftestant Jen Carroll in 2007, and the rest is history. I would write about her for years to come. We became good friends as well, which unfortunately, I stopped writing about her as much, trying to protect her private life. It’s happened a lot over the years. It’s a good thing as well because it’s allowed me to attend parties and events that other press are not invited to, and often get exclusive shots and coverage at these events as people knew they could trust me. I only wanted what could be published that didn’t negatively effect someone’s life. Sometimes I failed at this, but more often I succeeded.
I have to thank Joey Sweeney of Philebrity too (ie Gawker of Philly). I went to him early on and said I’m going to be writing about Philly, and Philadelphians basically creating Philebrities and I know you like to write about those people; but these Philebrities are going to help me promote charities and charity organizations. He understood and I felt free to begin what I needed to do without the fear of being written about in a negative way. I am highly oversensitive as you all know. Over the years he did write about a few of my Philebrities, who can forget Arthur Kade, and he often linked to stories to expound on them on his site. All of this was hugely helpful, and I appreciate it. When he featured my coverage of the Phillies winning the World Series and then the destruction of Center City, his site was picked up by national sites which drove hundreds of thousands of readers to my site. Phillies Win World Series, Idiots Thank Them by Rioting and Looting
The AfterParty for screening of Night Catches You at Chestnut club, Phila Pa – Thanks to Philly Style Magazine and Nicole Cashman, who first credentialed me to shoot their parties. Yes it’s true sometimes I didn’t get in. Philly Mag turned me down 2 years in a row back in the day. I’m proud to say I’ve gotten competing publications placed in competitors columns cause, these are important parties happening in Philly. I thank all the publications for trusting me in my decision making. Nicole Cashman was on top of things, she understood what I was trying to do. I wanted to create a scene; I set out to cover events and publish daily. I wanted to be more than the paper which at the time published these parties in the society column once a week, or a magazine once a month. Eventually in the following years parties, and now, parties are held every day of the week. People will show up, they’ll even buy tickets to attend a good party any night of the week.
Then there’s Sabrina Tamburino Thorne who allowed me to cover her life from engagement to wedding, to baby. I can’t thank her enough for being my first muse.After which I found other muse to write about which the audience loved: Sarah Doheny – I coined her nickname “StylePRDiva” , Maria Papadakis, Erin Elmore,
Susie Celek and Julie Dorenbos, Christie Honigman, Kory Aversa and Ian Michael Crumm (I told him write about men’s fashion, your own style and be the star of your instagram) I said when you find success, help someone else achieve success. He’s done a great job and it was great mentoring both of them. Every 3rd year Philly Mag would write about one of my muses.
I especially want to thank everyone who ever allowed me to photograph them.
Renee Reese, GN Kang, Big Rube, Michelle Miller and Erin Elmore at the opening party for Barney’s Co-op
#SquadGoals Erin Como, Vasiliki Tsiouris, Jillian Mele, Allison Papson, Alissa Frick and Sheena Parveen
For many years I was “Paralegal by day, Paparazzi by night” until I parted ways with Kohn Swift 12/31/10, Mike said let’s see if you can make a living doing your blog cause I know you love it so much. I’ll support you for a year. A few months later I realized the only way I could make money was to be hired by PR/Clients to shoot parties as an event photographer, often I would suggest they keep their house photographer if they had one, and I would use the photos took to place in the media as well as on my blog, promote their events on Social Media and pr give them photos for their social media. I then told my readers I would be starting an event photography business, but would still write as I did the previous 3 years – who, what, when and where of the parties. Shortly after I became a professional event photography, and it’s been growing ever since.
Thanks to Justin Pizzi for first getting me on the air, on NBC10 on his “The Scene” segment in 2009
Thanks to Jen Fred, Fox 29 who then said I’d be perfect for Fox 29 in 2011
Fox 29 came calling, where I appeared weekly for about 3 years, these days my work appears weekly. This month, I celebrate 6 years as a regular contributor to Philly Mag with my own column in the magazine. That is my pride and joy. I also create content for PhillyStyle Magazine, Metro Philly, Phila Business Journal, Liberty City Press, and am often featured on TV news shows, which is very nice. I’m so glad to have played a part in photographing the City as it came into it’s own in the last decade. I now have 3 photographers that work for me Andre Flewellen, Mike Hirata and Talya Hailey, a business/Managing partner – Lynsie Solomon, and my sister Janine DeFeo who does our scheduling, and invoicing. Most importantly I worked with so many wonderful charities getting the word out on the wonderful work they do, including Gilda’s Club, The Linda Creed Foundation and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Thanks to Team Derek for years of celebrity fun
So many great chef parties
Jamyra Perry and Melony Roy – love these two girls. We had fun back in the lean years.
How I miss all those great Phillies charity parties. So much fun, good stories to be had there.
Thanks to Stacey Kracher who hired me to shoot all the Zarwin Baum events back in the day, and who became a great friend, which continues today
Thanks to Mary Patel and Matthew Vlahos for so many great times in those early years.
My love, my one constant mentor Laura Burkhart since 2007 – This photo has a funny story to it.
These days parties and scenes are happening 7 days a week. I am so grateful to you all for my success. Thank you to the PR/Charities/People who hire us.
Here’s to another 10 years of Philly Chit Chat.
Oh BTW what did I write about on the first PhillyChitChat Blog Post – I complained about the rain on Fourth of July, and why do they keep putting banks on corners.
Next Week I will be doing columns of “My Favorite Photos”, “The Best Celebrity Moments”, “The Best Events”, “Things that Disappeared” , and “The Most Fashionable in Philly” in the last decade.