What’s A Block Party Supposed To Do?
A Profile with Software Engineer & Photographer Steven Taylor
Talent is often found in the most unsuspected places. Steven Taylor is a Philly born software engineer and photographer who truly embodies the spirit of humility and dignity. Rather than taking the route of years of formal education into a profession, he has used the contacts and closeness of his neighborhood to create a livelihood all his own.
He got his start in software engineering through a nonchalant conversation at the local McDonald’s. Through innovation and hard work, he moved from a simple data entry position into positions of more responsibility. Today, he is a professional software engineer, though his passion, and perhaps true profession, is photography.
Just as it was with software engineering, Steven began his photography career not through taking photography classes at night school, but rather through personal innovation and creativity. He purchased a GoPro and began taking pictures of different restaurants and eating venues around Philadelphia and the DC area. Over time, he realized he had a unique skill that could be profitable (besides being something he enjoyed.)
His long-term goal as a photographer is to have his pictures in print. Legacy is something Steven values, and he believes that great pictures that tell the unique story of the places he photographs will have the ability for him to live on through his work.
As a photographer who lives in the inner-city neighborhood, Steven has chosen not to take pictures that too many other photographers automatically associate with marginalized, urban areas.
Instead of taking the quintessential (yet cliché) photograph of the crack head or drunk sitting in the park, Steven focuses on the thousands of beautiful moments that occur every day even in the most difficult of places. The flower growing through broken concrete or the bird that lands on the electric cable are just a few of the special moments that show the beauty of life in the Hood.
Steven’s high for finding beauty wherever he is located has also helped him become a powerful voice for his community. While he grew up in Philadelphia, he spent many years in the DC area before moving back to Philly. Steven says that he chose to move back to Philly because he wanted to highlight the positive and uplifting aspects of blackness in his inner-city neighborhood.
Unlike many critics, Steven finds pride in his inner-city neighborhood and works together with his neighbors to make it a better place. Because he intimately knows the struggles and the joys of the marginalized urban areas, he is also able to see the opportunities for change. He challenges his friends to avoid the temptation to leave the Hood in search of other horizons. Rather, he tells them to “take the same jobs you have now and buy the house you grew up in.”
Despite the beauty that he sees in the Hood, Steven also knows that there are challenges. The challenges that marginalized inner-city areas face is often related to local governments who avoid acting in those places. While communities can come together, local governments do have the financial ability to make more far-reaching changes if they wanted to.
Steven says that while the community is active in making life in the Hood better, “what’s a block party really gonna do?” While these community-inspired actions do bring people together, what is really needed is local government action to facilitate discussions and panels (and also the resources) for true to change to happen.
Instead of having yet another inner-city community suffer to gentrification policies or abandonment, Steven truly believes that an organized community alongside a supportive local government can come together to create spaces that truly help the Hood to thrive.
Still interested in Steven? Check him out at: