A Fly on the Wall

While some of my projects require regular in-person visits to shoot footage, others engage a more inconspicuous approach, where I anchor a camera in a fixed location and only visit it periodically for maintenance. This was the case for a recently-completed community resource hub.

Two years ago, the Enterprise Center began work on a new building in West Philadelphia aimed at expanding business and contracting opportunities for people of color. 4x3 LLC hired me to capture the construction process, and I finished the timelapse in time for the building’s completion this past May.

Construction took place in a narrow space on 52nd Street, so my setup couldn’t disrupt the process or neighboring shops. A business across the street from the site generously allowed me to install my camera on its external second-story wall. Being a “fly on the wall” helped me capture footage without increasing foot traffic to an already-crowded space.

  • Ladder to the setup
  • Optimizing the panel's sunlight intake
  • View from across the street

After installation, the clients and I were able to monitor the camera’s progress every 15 minutes, and I could immediately tell when issues arose, such as wind blowing debris onto the lens. Thanks to these cloud updates sent from the camera box, I only had to make a site visit every three to four months. At each checkup, I adjusted the camera’s solar panel to account for seasonal changes in sunlight. Then, I swapped out its hard drive for a fresh one, so that the camera could continue to save high-res photos locally while I transferred the latest footage to my computer. Lastly, I cleaned the lens, checking for any hidden debris or damage.

While I enjoy being on-site and interacting with the locations and subjects that I shoot, it’s nice to know that there are ways for me to capture footage that accommodate constraints on space and traffic.

“The timelapse video Rich created showcased the construction process in a captivating and visually striking manner. The transitions between different stages of the construction were seamless, allowing us to witness the evolution of our building in an engaging and informative way.”

– Gregg Whitlock, Senior Art Director at 4x3 LLC