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Conrad Benner Points His Lens Toward Philly’s Street Art Scene

By , November 22, 2016

Name: Conrad Benner
Occupation: Blogger & Street Photographer
Company: Streets Dept

Browsing through the Streets Dept blog is like receiving a virtual tour of Philadelphia from an artistic perspective. Philly-born Conrad Benner spends his days exploring the city and sharing his finds through photography. Not only has he drawn attention to the burgeoning street art scene, but he’s gained quite a following through his blog and social media.

LAUREN: How did you become drawn to photographing street art?

CONRAD: When I was in my early 20s, I had a Twitter account and I ran a blog. If you had a flip phone, you could text a photo to a certain number and it would tweet that photo for you. I would point my camera at anything that caught my eye. My boyfriend at the time got me a digital point-and-shoot camera for Christmas. [Shortly after that], I used my tax return to get my first DLSR - a Canon rebel.

When I was about 24 [I decided] to create my own blog, and I needed to have a specific focus. I looked through the thousands of photos I’d taken and realized they were mostly street art and graffiti. I decided to make a blog that focused on that.

L: Is there an area of the city that you find to be the especially inspiring?

C: Eraserhood is somewhere I draw a lot of inspiration [from]. It’s called that because David Lynch [director of the film Eraserhead] moved there in the 1970s, and he lived in that neighborhood back when the city was in need of a lot of help. He said that he never had an original idea in his life until he moved to Philadelphia.

L: For a first-time visitor to Philadelphia, which must-see spots you would recommend that they visit?

C: The boardwalk on the Schuylkill river trail is a must-see. It offers a really great view of the skyline, and it gives you a little peace and serenity in the middle of the city. Then there’s a place called Addison Street in Center City. It’s a carless street, and the neighbors down two blocks of that street have installed Christmas like lights on all the trees. It’s between 17th and 19th.

[Finally] there’s this billboard that is at 2nd and Race Street in Old City that has a big image of a cloud on it. I think it’s the ultimate street art. No one knows who did it, so it’s just this mystery billboard in the middle of Center City.

L: The city of Philadelphia is obviously very close to your heart. In your opinion, what makes Philly stand out from other cities?

C: The sense of community here is so strong. The artists, the creative communities, even my neighbors – everyone seems to be ready to help one another. It’s not dog-eat-dog like you see in New York City or Chicago. My blog wouldn’t be what it is today if I didn’t have a tremendous amount of help from other photographers and artists in Philly. The sense of community and eagerness to help other people is very unique to Philadelphia.

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