Inside Urban Outfitters’ beautiful vaulted and public building 543, Eliott Waters, a UO employee, has pulled together 816 random photographs for a collection now up at the Navy Yard.

Coming from a greater pool of about 50,000, Waters says he managed to get that down to 5,000 digital images, and then to about 2,000. He actually printed close to 1,300 and taped them all to a long wall eight tall and 102 long.

Waters works down at the Navy Yard campus doing prototyping and fixture furniture exploration for Free People but he’s always been a photographer. The Londoner simply asked to show some of his work and after directing Lauren Addis, the space’s curator, to his site she said “Yeah, great, do it.”

“I love my work and what I do but I’ve always lacked some confidence in it, I suppose.” That could go back to his start at the notorious Bournemouth art school in Poole, UK (famous photog alums include Nick Knight and Wolfgang Tillmans).


They’re random on purpose. They’re only 5” by 7”, maybe a little larger than the thousands of hour-developed disposable camera photos you’ve taken, and they’re neatly packed into a tight and clean grid. Glamour sits beside death. High fashion juxtaposes friends wasted at parties. Five-star cuisine foils beefcake posters and his own beautiful daughter’s birth. It’s the kind of collage that actually warrants many strolls, elicits favorites and laughs and neck cranes for detail.

“People have always put me down because my photography is so random and you need to be like this and you need to be like that,” he said. “I just want to shoot what I want to shoot and people can fuck off if you don’t like it,” he joked with his rich accent. He’s well aware of how it seems like maybe these photos could have been taken by you or I. But we aren’t in attendance at international fashion weeks and falling in love with his lovely wife, Jestis, a muse and subject making the largest amount of appearances in the collage.

“I could easily take that photo but would I be in that place?” Waters asks and articulates essentially what the show makes onlookers feel. The runway and backstage photos come as a result of being good friends with a fashion show producer who he suggested hire him to document the shows she was putting on. Her firm, RMO Comms, took him to shoot shows in Paris, London and New York, which gives the collection of prints a distinctly international AND local appeal.


Because now Philadelphia’s home. So you’ll find photos of the King of Jeans sign, cheesesteaks, abandoned South Philly buildings and thriving bodegas. Right next to Japanese models and European landscapes. It’s meant to represent Waters’ visual diary. It’s a fascinating manifestation of he and his wife’s life and he’s just carrying a camera at all times. Sure, that life includes house parties, beach trips and hotel stays, but it’s also populated by cigarettes, take-out and hangovers.

If you’re curious, you can order individual 5” x 7” prints for $30 a piece or have him print a 9” x 12” favorite for $60. Make your own collage out of nine for $180. Seriously, a three-by-three collage of your favorite nine would make a totally rad living room centerpiece. You could even try to pretend like you’ve been to fashion weeks in Paris. It’s definitely worth a bike or Broad Street Line trip. Consider it.

Eliott Waters’ photo show is on display for another three weeks in Shop 543 at the Navy Yard on the Urban Outfitters corporate campus. As he puts it: “It’s open to the public – not a lot of people know that so they can always come down for a lunch or a coffee.”

About The Author

Staff writer

Bill's a small town, public school boy that grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York and attended Hamilton College and the University of Oregon. In New York, he interned for Next magazine, Out magazine, and Flavorpill.com. As soon as he got to Philly he sent about a dozen emails to then-music editor Brian McManus, begging for an internship. Six years later he's the Senior A&E writer for PW and the Staff writer for the South Philly Review.

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