Park People Profile: Phil Rowntree

Phil Rowntree is or should be a familiar name to readers of this blog. He has published more than two dozen photographs here, including a memorable closeup of a hawk, a dramatic scene of a blooming narcissus with a rainbow in the background, a crow framed by the moon, among others. Here’s just a sample:

Phil is not only a photographer, he’s a park steward. He has helped me make fence repairs when that was an issue; he routinely picks up trash and puts it in the barrels; he answers park visitors’ questions, and he reminds visitors of the ground rules. He covers fairly much the whole park on his bicycle, and just recently acquired a digitally maneuverable airborne camera (aka drone) that can get images impossible for earthbound photographers to capture. Here’s an example:

Cesar Chavez Park from above the northwest corner. Photo by Phil Rowntree.

Here’s a selfie of Phil with his son Fionn, who (incidentally) has also contributed some beautiful photography here:

Phil is modest and I had to twist his arm to get him to share a few things about himself. He writes:

“I grew up in the countryside, of the south coast of England. After a few years traveling to places such as India I arrived in California in 1992 just as the Rodney King verdicts were announced.Soon realized LA wasn’t the place for me and I headed north to San Francisco and Berkeley.

“Traveled with the Grateful Dead on and off for about 3 years, visited cities from Chicago to Miami.

“Worked as a Telegraph Avenue street vendor for 10+ years making and selling hair wraps and hemp jewelry and later T-shirts. I spent 24 hours in Berkeley Jail for misdemeanor cosmetology (tying string in people’s hair) and eventually won the right to make hair wraps in Berkeley.

“When my son Fionn was born I focused on my own line of children’s clothing and sold them at street fairs and the occasional concert.

“Cesar Chavez Park and the Berkeley Meadow are my escape back to a little bit of nature. I can often be found on my bike, hanging out with my son Fionn or flying my new drone – I’m usually looking for my next photograph.

To see Phil’s latest click on his Instagram account.

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