Memphis. Blues. That’s why we’re here. To help out and old friend of mine. Sammy Eubanks. He’s a helluva singer. And, he’s a great guitar player. The event is the IBC. That’s International Blues Competition. The musicians play for some money and a lot of publicity and some marketing. So. Last night was the first round… Sammy knocked them dead.
Well. Here I go again. A short trip to listen to the blues in Memphis, TN. I planned on leaving around 8am. But, oh no. I was wide awake at 4:45am. So, we were off by 6:15am. The drive was fine, but way too fast. When was the last time you heard that?
Anyway. This is one of my hold the steering wheel, point the camera and shoot the picture. All of the post production was done on an i-Pad. Unfortunately, not on piece of OS software has a spotting tool, so I couldn’t repair the obvious. Trust me. I’ll fix it before I do anything else with it.
Yes. Sunday and Mardi Gras. About dogs. And their people. From my point of view, the main parade yesterday was the Krewe of Barkus. Yes. Barkus. Bark. Bark. Bark. Except these dogs were all pretty good. They visited with each other before showtime. Then they walked throughout The French Quarter. It was their parade. The streets were packed. With humans and visiting dogs. Dogs everywhere. People too. Quite frankly, I’ve never seen The Quarter so packed with people. I suppose, we are starting to get the early spillover from next Sunday’s little football game. They call it the Superbowl. Combine those crowds with the normally heavy Mardi Gras crowds and you get one full French Quarter.
Anyway. Please have a look at the dogs and some of the people who make New Orleans unique.
That’s it for the first week of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We are taking a break. The city. Not just me. The NFL asked us to do that. So we started Mardi Gras a week early, worked in a week-long pause, and will resume again on the Monday after the game. For my part, it’s really messed with my timing and planning. No. I’m not working in the city next week. We are heading to Memphis… for the BBQ at The Rendezvous and a lot of Blues. Musicians are going to play there from all over the world. It’ll be a little crowded there too. But, nothing like New Orleans. And, Memphis is sacred ground to me because of all the great music made there. Once, I walked into Sun Studios and wanted to kiss the floor. Elvis, Dylan and U2 recorded there. Then there were guys like Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and, and, and… I know I’m really lucky. I live in New Orleans. A musical city. I’m traveling to a Memphis. Another musical city. These days so much of my life is about pictures and musical sounds. Thanks.
The pictures. Well. You know what I do. I bet you didn’t think I could do it with dogs. It’s easy. I just talk to them. They have no idea what I’m saying. Or, do they? Do they seem to like the tone of my voice.
So. I know what you are wondering. “What’s the deal with Sweet Caroline?” Well. I never saw or heard or anything like it. But first, a little back story. This is the ‘titRex Parade. No. It doesn’t mean what you think it does. The name is short for Petit Rex. No. I didn’t misspell it. It’s French. It’s a DIY Mardi Gras parade, which was started in response to the big huge super krewes that take over major streets for hours on end. They say that it was inspired by Bacchus. That’s a huge parade. Many of the Bacchus floats have trouble making turns on New Orleans’ narrow streets. By comparison, this parade is tiny. And, so are the floats. Check them out. They are about 12 inches long. They are pulled like a child pulls a pull toy. The really cool thing is that if one break downs, it can be picked up and fixed by one person. Break downs are a major factor in parade delays. This parade is really nothing more than another kind of second line parade. Those, for me, are the best. There are maybe two marching bands. Maybe a dozen floats. The parade rolls through St. Roch, which is now called The New Bywater, and eventually finishes in The Marigny where it sort of blends into the Krewe of Chewbacchus. That’s another DIY parade, albeit a little bigger. But not too much bigger.
So. Back to Sweet Caroline. You know it. It’s an old Neil Diamond song. Let me further set the stage. The people who live in these neighborhoods and attend the parade are either hipsters, old hippies or folks who look like they got trapped in 1967. Nice people, but they like hipper kinds of music. Normally. Maybe. Here’s what happened. The first marching band stops. They start playing Sweet Caroline. When they get to the break and the chorus the entire parade starts singing at the top of our lungs. Not only do we sing Sweet Caroline, but if you remember there’s a three beat count using horns and bass that sort of goes like, “boom, boom, boom.” It’s instrumental. But, we sang that too. What a glorious and joyful noise. Everybody was smiling and laughing. As a wise song writer once wrote, ” Live Music Is Better. Bumper Stickers Should Be Issued.”
The pictures. Come on. 🙂 By now, you know me. F something and be there. Just find the picture and take the picture. The best way to work in the street. I do have to tell you one thing. I really like parades like this. I can just join the parade and walk with them.
So it started for real tonight. Mardi Gras parades began to roll Uptown. As I’ve written, after many years of photographing Carnival, I was casting about for some different approach. It didn’t have to be a big change. I just want to make pictures that show some development in my work. I made a strategic decision. Rather than photograph the parade as I usually do with people jumping for beads and throws as floats and bands pass by, I thought I would work at the start of the parade. This turned out to be a pretty good idea. I was able to make pictures while bands practiced, float riders got set in their positions and baton twirlers stretched and got ready for a very long walk. It worked out pretty well. At least the images don’t look like every other year’s pictures. And, two by-products occurred. I enjoyed them both. The first was just being able to interact with the paraders. Once they start along the parade route the only communication is waving and catching their eyes. The second was really cool. I was able to leave very early. Yes. I know that’s not in the spirit of Mardi Gras, but I have an excuse. By parking in a place that would allow me to go around the parade. I could shoot at the start of the parade and drive to one or even two other locations. But, not tonight. I realized this after both parades — the run one or two in a row — departed and I started thinking, “boy, this is really early.” Before I try multiple locations I have to plan where I want to work. There are some locations where I might rather not be.
The pictures. This is just pure photojournalism. I work, I talk and I work some more. I push the button. And, that’s it. Once again, getting to the picture is much harder than making the picture.
So. I promised you that my first post of the day was just a test. It was. What is really cool about that post is that I did everything, except make the picture, on my i-Pad. This is very important since I’m trying to travel even more lighter these days. I reckon if I don’t need a laptop, the will cut my carry on luggage down to very little. I’ll test it next week from the road. Hopefully, it will work as well as I’d like. What would be extra cool is if I could just think pictures and not need a camera. Kidding.
Tonight. There is a big movement in New Orleans to legalize food trucks. Actually, it’s not to make them legal. They are. But, they are restricted. So it’s really an attempt to make the current rules a little less strict so that they can park in certain locations in the city for more than a few minutes. Some of the city council people are actually championing this. That’s all good. If you’ve read Storyteller for any length of time, you know that I really like street food in all forms. In all countries. So, of course, I really like the idea. In order to drum up public support, someone came up with the idea of holding monthly food struck festivals. Many of them are organized in Central City on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. That fits in very nicely with my long form project. I can photograph and I can eat. Pretty good, huh? There were ten food truck tonight. Ribs. Very high-end grilled cheese sandwiches. Burgers. Hot dogs from Dat Dog. Great coffee. Soul food. Falafels. Mexican food. And, so on. Get in line. Order. About ten minutes later you are eating. There’s pretty good music, too. And, plenty of tables on which to enjoy your dinner.
The pictures. Technically, I did pretty much what I always do. Content was important last night. A close friend of mine suggested that I’ve been framing too tightly and that I wasn’t leaving enough background information in the picture. So, I loosened up. That’s a big switch for me. I like to frame tightly and graphically. The other change was working more with the people whom I photographed. You see the results in each frame. Even though the top image of the man grilling ribs is graphic, we talked enough for him to ask me when he could shut the lid. I worked quickly because I think that he’s trying to feed people and I’m just making pictures. Oddly, chatting with people is easier for me than framing more loosely. For many photographers that’s reversed.
I was driving in an area of New Orleans where I rarely go. I think it’s a part of St. Thomas. Actually, it was after we ate all that Vietnamese food that I posed about earlier this week. I saw this row of collapsing structures and liked what it looked like. To me, it felt like it was so dilapidated place in Singapore. Of course, when I saw the run down area in Singapore it was years ago. By now, I’m sure it’s long gone since every building has either been restored or torn down and the neighborhood modernized to the point where I’d be lost in places I used to know very well.
Anyway. This place. I have no idea what it was or who owned it. As I wrote, I really don’t know this neighborhood. It looks like a row of dependencies. Those are what out buildings were called if they were supplied to the staff of a large house in which they lived and worked. In the early 1800s, many of them were sort of outdoor kitchens since cooking indoors was not safe. Yes. Prior to the Civil War, they might even have been slave quarters. Today, many are converted into small apartments or guest houses. Usually, you find them in The French Quarter. Since I had to walk across a field that was littered with bits and pieces of a building in order to make this picture, I’m taking an educated guess. At one point these really were dependencies. The field that I walked through was once the area in which the main house was located. Guessing. Remember that. Guessing.
The picture. That was easy. It took walking across a field. There. I wrote it a third time. Then I made the image with a 16mm lens so that I could stretch things out a bit and still fill the frame. I wanted to make a somewhat mysterious and misty picture. I did that in post production using some filters in software called OnOne. It takes some fiddling around and experimenting. But, it works pretty well. Please have a look at the results.