Michael Penn (Philadelphia, PA, born 1969) is a street photographer whose images are moody and intense. His black and white work is high contrast and timeless. The epic and highly dramatic aura in his color work lend the photographs a sense of humanity.
In 2005, Penn made a conscious decision to leave his career in hospitality after finding his father’s 35mm camera. Focused on his historic Old City Philadelphia neighborhood that he’s called home for the last 23 years, one image kept peeking through, between the brick facades of Georgian style homes and artist loft-style cast-iron buildings. It was The Benjamin Franklin Bridge, a structure that made ferryboat captains, of which his fraternal grandfather was one, obsolete. The completion of the Ben Franklin Bridge led Penn’s grandfather into a new direction and it inadvertently became responsible for the launch of Michael’s new career.
A long exposure night shot, taken under the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, caught the attention of a curator and led to Penn’s 2007 solo show at The Silicon Gallery. The show featured his architecture photos with his new Benjamin Franklin Bridge series and began five years of representation by InLiquid and The Print Center of Philadelphia. Michael continued to play an active role in self-representation and inclusion in a number of national and global group shows around Philadelphia, New York City, and Santiago Chile.
Inspired by the Japanese Provoke Movement, Penn’s street photography projects include the 1000 photo collection The Philadelphia Project, Out of New York, Lonely New York, Month-Day-Year, and Welcome to Market East.
One year after the completion of The Final Days of Little Pete’s, Penn released another publication, Graffiti Pier, and has since launched a line of wearable art and home furnishings through the Philly Artists Shop (Phart-Shop.com.)
He is no longer in Old City and is now a resident of Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood where he is already focusing his eye on new projects and he continues his support for the arts through social media conversation and promotion of other talented artists who struggle to gain recognition and become “grant-worthy” while still working towards his first grant.
Twelve of Michael’s photographs are in The Art Collection of Wharton University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa and his prints and publications sit in holding at some of the most prestigious art institutions in the world including MoMA, The Library of the National Museum of Modern Art- Tokyo; J. Paul Getty Museum- Los Angeles; The Art Institute of Chicago; Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University, NY; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; Museum of the City of New York.