Borough is “Picture Perfect”
by Cate Murway

In our ever-changing world, rural pastures and farmhouses are disappearing rapidly. In its place are shopping centers, condos and gas stations. Bristol Borough is remaining “Picture Perfect”! Hopefully it endures that way...we have grown attached!!

After photographing our families, buildings are probably the next most common subjects that we feel compelled to capture on film. Some have become notoriously recognized for their architectural beauty while others will be forever associated with a major historical event. Often there are just too many shots of the same familiar landmark. People yearn to see something different; something new or interesting that would embellish what could be a yawn-inducing print. The best pictures differentiate themselves by nuances. It may be a certain angle that makes the building more beautiful, or a detail unseen in traditional historical photos. Landscape photographers have the opportunity to create dramatic, large-format prints that demand attention.

There are a myriad of ways to take an appealing photo of a structure. You can wait for dusk, just as the sun is setting and the lighting will assist you to capture a beautiful, glowing sky with rich, deep tones. An illuminated building offset in such a way can look stunning but the photographer would need to be willing to wait around all day. A good plan would be to look around, up and down and locate something about the building that has previously gone unnoticed and with a decent zoom lens, one is able to capture intricate detail from a relatively great distance. 
John Robert Root, BHS ’93, who started appreciating camera work in H.S., has proven that he can think creatively and use environment to accentuate a building as he steps back to include surrounding detail or zoom in to crop out anything that detracts from his planned image. Often times, certain details of a building can portray much more than a straightforward shot of the building as a whole. Through his ever practical, down-to-earth approach, his prints have gone beyond a simple record that goes on the wall. He opens his eyes, moves about and is willing to try something new to create one memorable shot!

2007 Calendar Committee co-chairperson on the Bristol Borough 325th Anniversary Committee, Virginia (Ginny)[Corrigan] Paleafico, BHS’67 had worked at Rite Aid Pharmacy on Pond Street with John’s father, Ralph Clair Root, Delhaas class of 1963/ Army Reserves Specialist Class E-4, Fort Knox, KY, and had seen he and John taking pictures throughout the town. Ginny’s niece and associate calendar committeeperson Mary Jo Harris, who works at Lower Bucks Hospital, knew of John’s works being displayed in the hospital hallway. They made a decision to ask John to provide the 12 photographs of the monuments in the town, one for each month, for the Bristol Borough 325th Anniversary Calendar that were sold at the Borough Tax Office, Great I.D.’s by Anne and Mignoni Jewelry and Gifts.  Ginny shared, “John worked very well with the committee and was very accommodating.” Anna Bono Larrisey, President of the 325th Anniversary Committee, Administrator and Bristol Borough Tax Collector said, “Not only is the Borough such a well-kept secret, we have so many talented individuals here!”

The Municipal Building, built in 1927, housing all the departments of the Borough Government earned the cover debut and the month of January. John donated his calendar collection that includes beautiful and fascinating photographs documenting some of the striking and unusual physical and cultural features in and around Bristol Borough. The Christopher Columbus Monument commissioned by the Columbus 500 Foundation commands the October page.
Many of his most entrancing shots are of the Grundy Commons and the 168-foot clock tower, erected in 1910, a significant landmark important to the life and social fabric of the Borough. One of these noteworthy captures is included in “The Commons-Preserving the Past and Fortifying the Future” article in the 31st Annual Historic Bristol Day Supplement to the Bristol Pilot, Yardley News and The Advance. Other of John’s captivating renditions of this familiar sight are posted on the Grundy Commons web page.

The rail enthusiast eventually got his hands on an Olympus Point & Shoot camera and incorporated his newfound railroad photography work into a passion. As roads and airports get slower, trains go ever faster and John’s locomotive fascination has kept pace.  His Aunt Carol, a Balford Farms computer employee, gifted him with a higher end SLR camera with an array of impressive features and he has expanded on his fundamentals of photography insuring that none of the imagery would be lost.

A favorite pastime is watching the “Three Stooges” [started in 1925 as part of a raucous vaudeville act called “Ted Healy and His Stooges”], whose hallmark was extremely physical slapstick comedy punctuated by one-liners, within outrageous storylines. Of “course”, a large poster of Moe, Larry, & Curly playing golf greets their front door guests.The brilliantly simple multi-million dollar 1963 comedy, “It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” featuring one of the largest collections of American comedians ever brought together on celluloid and the only comic effort produced and directed by Stanley Kramer [1913-2001] is their choice of best film. He and his sister involved in perfume sales, currently a Fairless Hills resident, Lori Ann Root, BHS ’89 were basically raised by their father.
According to John, his dad, who was trained as a cook in the service, makes a “killer meatloaf with ground beef and sweet Italian pork sausage.”

After graduation, John worked a series of jobs, starting at Lower Bucks Hospital transporting patients and equipment and assisting nursing personnel with the movement and preparation of patients for transport in March 1994. His current utility position is in food and nutrition services in the hospital kitchen for Sodexho, the leading food and facilities management services company in North America. His work is displayed year-round in the hospital hallways and he will be offering a premier 10” X 15” framed, matted and signed print of the “Grundy Clock Tower in Winter” at the Hospital Auxiliary Christmas Bazaar on Friday, December 7, 2007 from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 

Per John’s father, Ralph, who has lived in the Borough since 1971, “I just stand back in fascination as he patiently waits to get the perfect shot and often times offer suggestions for good picture opps.” He especially recalls his son waiting for just the right moment at the first comprehensive traveling Dalí retrospective exhibition since the artist’s death to catch one of Salvador Dalí’s [1904-1989]  “surrealist eye canvases” riveted on women climbing the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Some of his other great shots are of the newly restored classic Greek and Roman architecture, Fairmount Water Works on the banks of the Schuylkill River.
John’s enthusiasm for his craft is serious and sincere.

Let there always be magic in your smile and a firmness in your handshake!

Picture Perfect
John Root, Area Photographer
Bristol, PA  19007

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 John Robert Root