Portraits of Philadelphia: Photographs by Joseph V. Labolito and Jim MacMillan, 1981-2023

November, 2023 – March 24, 2024
Charles Library at Temple University

From the exhibition

I tried to post all of my photographs from the exhibition at the bottom of this page before it concluded in March. This was my final entry:

Before the war

Demonstrator Caries Peace Sign While Protesting Againgt US Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
City Hall
Jim MacMillan

Original caption found in metadata: Peace protesters pass City Hall Saturday. Police estimated that ten thousand demonstrators marched in Philadelphia against war with Iraq. Date: 2/15/03, Time: 1:36:05 PM, Shutter: 1/750, f: 4.0, ISO: 800, Lens: 17mm, Philadelphia, PA, US

Photographers had to use unusually wide lenses in those days to compensate for the small footprint of sensors in early digital camera. I was probably using a Nikon D1h at that time.

The US invaded Iraq on March 20. I went to Iraq to cover the war for the AP about a year later.

About my photographs

My prints on the gallery walls reflected my coverage of protests and demonstrations in Philadelphia during the past 32 years. My photographs of the Philadelphia Fire Department at work from 1991 through 2008 were on display on a monitor inside the gallery.

Photograph by Jon Falk

The image featured at the top of this page was also featured as a large print inside the gallery. Caption: Protesters rally outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia while officials inside were tallying the deciding votes in the US Presidential election. 2020.


I felt honored to share this exhibition with Joseph V. Labolito. Check out his remarkable body of work at: labolito.com

Photograph of Joseph V. Labolito and Jim MacMillan at the exhibition by Sarah Glover.

About the exhibition

In this exhibit, we explore the images of two photographers, Joseph V. Labolito and Jim MacMillan, as they traveled around Philadelphia. Both captured unique human experiences, whether it was Labolito documenting neighborhood life or MacMillan following protestors marching through the streets. The contrast of the two photographers’ work as they moved about the city can be clearly seen in their photographs. While Labolito’s photographs in black and white are purposefully framed and occasionally posed, MacMillan’s color photographs were captured quickly and candidly in a way only a news photographer can. Both were trying to capture a fleeting moment in the city.

By creating a mixed gallery of their work, the viewer is surrounded by the city through their eyes. Combining images from these two collections, both recently donated to the Special Collections Research Center, we aim to demonstrate how everyone has a different perspective of the city they live in, and how two completely opposite experiences could happen right around the corner from one another. The viewer moves through the exhibit as an experience, surrounded by images of the city they may or may not remember, as the city is ever evolving.


I will be forever grateful to Brenda Galloway-Wright and Ann Mosher of the Special Collections Research Center at Temple Libraries for their hard work, patience and remarkable outcomes producing and curating this exhibition and event.

My display case

Photograph by Jon Falk

Some of my old cameras and many of the press passes I collected throughout my career were in a display case in the gallery.

Note: There wass an old lens on the camera in that box that I got from an even older photographer who covered Apollo mission splashdowns. There’s a decent chance that images of Neil Armstrong passed through that glass when he got back from the first moon landing.

Photograph by Jon Falk
Photograph by Jon Falk.

Hands on

You could even mess around with one of my old cameras. A few (slightly lesser) historic events may have passed through this lens and camera too.

Photograph by Jon Falk

Panel and reception

Thank you to Sarah Glover, Vice President for News and Civic Dialogue at WHYY, for moderating our panel discussion on December 8, 2023. She is also a former staff photojournalist at the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer.

Photos from the event

Thank you to former Philadelphia Daily News photo editor Jon Falk for taking and sharing these photographs. [More photos]

Thank you to Ryan Brandenberg / Temple University for taking and sharing these photographs. [More photos]

In the news


Some of my photos on the gallery wall. Photograph by Jon Falk.

I learned several years ago the the Special Collections Resource Center at Temple Libraries had accepted the archives of a former Philadelphia Inquirer photographer. So, in an attempt to downsize at home while moving a couple of years ago, I offered them my lifetime print collection and they accepted.

I had photographed plenty of famous people and more than a few historic events and I was very excited by the idea of having my photos archived for the ages, but the exhibition and event were surprise bonuses for which I will always be grateful.

If any of my work was notable, it might be my coverage of the war in Iraq, the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and my crime beat coverage, but I was invited to submit only photos from Philadelphia for this exhibition and I no longer show crime scene photos due to my interest in preventing harmful news reporting.

I was pleased to find the spectrum of protest topics I had covered to hang on the walls and I found a number of dramatic fire department action photos for display on the gallery monitor, representing two other staples of local newspaper photography during my generation.

About me

I took a few photos of friends in the audience just before the program started. Photograph by Jon Falk.

My regular home page will return after the exhibition concludes on March 31 but until then you can read more than anyone needs to know about me and find any special new photos I take here: Course of Life

More photos from the exhibition

Parents embrace

Antiwar Activist Celeste Zappala Embraces Friend During Rumsfeld Visit
Jim MacMillan

Original caption: Celeste Zappala of Philadelphia, right, mother of U.S. Army Sgt. Sherwood Baker of Wilkes-Barre, PA, who was killed in Baghdad last year, hugs Michael Berg, father of young American entrepreneur Nick Berg, who was also killed in Iraq, during a demonstration on South Broad Street Wednesday. About 50 members from several regional peace groups gathered for the protest and a reading of names of U.S. and Iraqi war dead, during a visit by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who was in Philadelphia to address the World Affairs Council.

I took this photo about a month after I returned from covering the war in Iraq for a year for The Associated Press. Six years later, I interviewed Celeste when I was producing War News Radio at Swarthmore: Honking for Peace: Two Seconds of Solidarity

Taking Broad Street

Thousands of Antiwar Demonstrators March South on Broad Street
Broad and Spring Garden Streets
Jim MacMillan

I don’t remember if I was leaning out of a window or standing up on the roof but I took this photo with a long telephoto lens from high up in or on the old Daily News building at Broad and Callowhill Streets. My original caption says 10,ooo demonstrators were marching against war with Iraq. I have seen very few marches this big in Philadelphia. Digital camera metadata: Date: 2/15/03, Time: 12:33:11 PM, Shutter: 1/2500, f:4.0, iso: 800, Lens: 175mm

Sit-in for peace

College Students Occupy Philadelphia Office of US Senator Rick Santorum to Protest Against US Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 
Center City
Jim MacMillan

This is my only photo from the exhibition that was taken indoors, which didn’t make a lot of sense for my “Street Level” photo column at the time, except that I remember thinking it made no difference in the sense that a politician’s office is a public space anyway.

Original caption: Twenty students from UPenn and other area colleges occupied the Center City office of US Senator Rick Santorum for six hours Thursday, sitting in opposition to the impending war on Iraq. When the office building closed at 5pm, as seen in this photo, police arrested the 16 remaining activists, while more than 70 others rallied outside. 10/03/02

Masking up

Antiwar Demonstrator Checks Another’s Vintage Gas Mask Prior to Demonstration
Dilworth Plaza
Jim MacMillan

Young protesters help each other secure vintage gas masks before an antiwar march around Center City Philadelphia a few weeks before the US military invasion of Iraq. My notes say there were were 150 demonstrators and several skirmishes with police but no arrests.

Digital camera metadata: Date: 03/20/03, Time:4:07:47 p.m., Shutter: 1/90, f:4.0, iso:400, Lens: 26mm

Photojournalist zipped

Police Place Photojournalist in Police Van During Demonstration at Republican National Convention
Center City
Jim MacMillan

I think I got this picture on the eve of the first day of the convention when police and protesters squared off on Walnut Street, a skirmish broke out and I saw this photographer I didn’t know get zip-tied and whisked away. The crazy thing was that I wound up sharing a hooch with him on a US Army base in Mosul four years later but didn’t recognize him until I was looking though my images a few years after that and stumbled across a less dramatic frame in which his face was more visible. He confirmed it was him but I’m not going to call him out because we’ve lost touch and I have no idea how he’d feel about it now. Small world yo.

Human wishbone

Police Attempt to Restrain Demonstrator During Protest
Jim MacMillan

I don’t think I ever understood what was going on in this picture but here is what I remember: It was a hot summer day shortly after I came home from Iraq in 2005 and there were at least two demonstrations taking place simultaneously, one demanding the right to skateboard on LOVE Park and another group objecting to the genetically-modified food industry conference visiting Philadelphia that week.

I shot this while standing on the platform on the edge of the old fountain, which was as slick as ice from some in the mob splashing water up toward the struggle. One little brat tried to push me in and it took all of my acrobatic skills and a lot of good luck to keep my balance.

I didn’t see whatever lead police to try to grab this guy but then others pulled him away and he slipped off through the crowd. Take a close look at how many hands are wrapped around his left arm alone. It’s also interesting to look at all the early digital video cameras in the crowd.

No guns here

Gun Violence Prevention Demonstrators
East Market Street near Independence Mall
Jim MacMillan

This is one of three photos in the exhibition that I captured using a Canon pocket camera held high on a selfie stick while zooming, framing and firing the shutter with an app on my iPhone.

Persistent protester

Police Officials Shake Hands While Standing Over Demonstrator Taking Part in Die-in Against US Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
South 15th Street near City Hall
Jim MacMillan

I was covering frequent protests at this point and always looking for something different. The original caption says: “About 100 young protesters from “Not in Our Name” and other organizations hold a “die-in” for peace at City Hall, in anticipation of the then-imminent war in Iraq.”

Holding hands for peace

Antiwar Protesters Hold Hands During Demonstration
Dilworth Plaza, City Hall
Jim MacMillan

This rush-hour protest against the war in Iraq was organized by the Brandywine Peace Community on September 17, 2007. I covered this event during a period when I was producing online news videos and I grabbed this still frame from the video at the time.

Peaceful Resistance

Demonstrators Form Human Peace Sign While Blocking Traffic During Demonstration Against US Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Jim MacMillan

Demonstrators hold hands to form a peace symbol at Broad and Cherry Streets. Several groups including about 1,000 high school and college student peace protesters had marched through Center City against the impeding US invasion of Iraq, which came a few weeks later.

I found my way into a nearby parking garage to get the high perspective necessary to get this picture. I think a lot of local news photographers compile a mental inventory of easily accessible places where we can get high shots. I know I did.

Digital camera metadata: Date: 3/5/03, Time: 3:48:35 PM, Shutter: 1/640, f:4.0, ISO: 500, Lens: 80, Philadelphia, PA,US

It was unusual that my ISO was set to 500. I usually jumped from 400 to 800 to 1,600, replicating the same steps I knew from shooting common films for decades before. The lens was probably my 80-200 Nikon zoom.

Vigil for Migrants

Demonstrators Hold Vigil in Memory of Migrants Who Lost Their Lives Trying to Cross Southern Border into United States
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Jim MacMillan

Hundreds of protesters rallied on the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  A smaller group then marched to City Hall for more songs and speeches.

Digital camera metadata: Date: 3/23/03, Time: 4:16:49 p.m., Shutter: 1/1250, f:4.0, ISO: 400, Lens: 17, Philadelphia, PA, US

Not In Our Name

Demonstrators Block Traffic During Anti-war Demonstration Shortly Before US Invasion of Iraq
North Broad Street
Center City
Jim MacMillan

I don’t remember a lot about this protest except for the location and thinking that most of the participants were probably high school students due to the mid-afternoon hour. Confrontations with drivers were also unusual because police would ordinarily cut off traffic at a nearby intersection and I don’t know why this day was different but it added more energy.

No Toy Guns

Demonstration March to Stop Gun Violence
Center City
Jim MacMillan

Children march up Broad Street to kick off a toy gun collection campaign, in an effort to curb youth violence with real guns. Digital image metadata: Date: 8/12/03, Time: 11:53:20 a.m., Shutter: 1/2000, f:5.6, ISO:800, Lens:17, Philadelphia, PA

It doesn’t make sense that I was shooting at ISO 800 in a scenario bright enough for these other settings but I often set the ISO on the cameras in my trunk at the start of the day and hopped out of my car to shoot things like this with very little notice. I mostly shot aperture-priority auto exposure and kept my eye on the shutter speed to make sure it was high enough to keep things sharp. ISO was just one too many things to think about on the fly. I think I had a 17-24 zoom, or something like that because I often had to shoot very wide because digital cameras had much s

Bunch of Clowns

Protesters Critical of Mainstream Media Wear Colorful Costumes to Hijack News Coverage During Republican National Convention
Center City
Jim MacMillan

I am pretty sure I captured this scene on Chestnut Street near South Broad Street on the eve of the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000. I remember that it was really hot out. I was still shooting film at that point and was probably using a Nikon F5.

These protesters were dressed up as clowns in an exercise intended to demonstrate that they could easily hijack media coverage simply by looking ridiculous. I never understood if they were suggesting that theatrics could take attention from more serious protesters or from the convention itself but I got this picture published with a caption addressing their tactics which would probably diminish either motive.

Mutant Tomato

Protesters Against Genetically Modified Foods Stage Die-In
National Constitution Center
Circa 2005
Jim MacMillan

My favorite thing about my Philadelphia demonstration photos throughout the years is the spectrum of protest topics. The file metadata indicates that this photo was taken at 6:54 p.m. on June 19, 2005 and the caption field reads:

A “biodemocracy” protester, dressed as a mutant tomato, dances around a die-in demonstration in front of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia Sunday, June 19, 2005. Demonstrators have planned events this week, including a “day of action” on Tuesday, all to coincide with the Biotechnology Industry Organization annual international convention in downtown Philadelphia.

Patient Protester

Demonstrator Holds Sign While Awaiting Visit by US Attorney General John Ashcroft
National Constitution Center
Circa 2003
Jim MacMillan

This picture seems to be getting the most reaction from people I know who have seen the exhibition so far. It was taken was around the time when Ashcroft was advancing the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, sometimes called Patriot II, after the 2001 Patriot Act. I don’t remember exactly why he was visiting on this day.

I drove past the event to check for protesters and I didn’t think this was much of a picture — so, I didn’t even stop to get her name or story — but a print resurfaced while I was preparing this collection and I decided to include it. Calling someone a fascist was more unusual back then and I like how the sign juxtaposes with her outfit.

Women’s March

Drummers Lead Women’s March
Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Jim MacMillan

This was one of the first events where I used a new approach of raising my little digital Canon pocket camera over my head with a selfie stick and and then zooming, framing and firing the shutter with my iPhone.

News photographers will climb almost anything to get a little altitude over a crowd, such as a newspaper box or a fire hydrant, but you don’t always find them right where you need them and I was really pleased with myself when I figured this out.

I wasn’t yet familiar with the Batala Philly drummers, who you see at the front, but I learned a little more about them after I spotted the another local group last year in Athens, as you can find on my bio page.

Peace March

Antiwar Demonstrators March Toward City Hall
North Broad Street
Circa 2003
Jim MacMillan

I don’t exactly remember this march but I do remember covering numerous antiwar marches in Philadelphia during the days leading up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. I usually resisted filing pictures of people holding signs, partly because word editors always liked them so much, but I made an exception this time for some reason. I like that I can see part of the white facade of the old Daily News building in the background.

This photograph was captured with a digital camera, probably a Nikon D1H and and 80-200 Nikon zoom lens, though I usually would have cropped it form there to clean up the edges and straighten the horizon. I found this metadata attached to the file: Several groups totaling about 1,000 high school and college student peace protesters marched through Center City Wednesday. Date: 3/5/03, Time: 4:54:12 PM, Shutter: 1/640, f:4.0, ISO:500, lens:80.