The Valley of Silent Men

Coming Out
Coming Out

The first one. The first second line of the 2015 – 2016 season.

It happens to fall in the middle of my two weeks of Hurricane Karina stories. That’s fine. It’s about a neighborhood that was flooded by the storm. It’s about the people who live there. It’s about their celebration. It’s also about a social aid and pleasure club that is celebrating their 30th anniversary. The Valley of Silent Men Social Aid and Pleasure Club.

I’m going to leave the storm out of this post. Or, at least my memories of it. For today.

Today is about the second line.

Hold on.

Forgive me. I  want to say one thing about the storm and how it relates to second lines. Pre-storm, I’m not exactly sure that those who weren’t directly involved with them even knew they existed. They were certainly hard enough to find for those not in the know. Immediately post storm, there was danger of having them come to an end forever. The social clubs and musicians were scattered around the country. Their neighborhoods were devastated. They didn’t have homes to come back to. But, they did return very early on in the recovery. They had to. They are like me and photography. I can’t not take pictures. They can’t not walk. I wrote about that in an earlier post. Today, ten years later, they are big powerful events. They get plenty of pre-second line publicity.

I don’t normally do this, but I’ll give you a little preview of Tuesday’s post. It’ll be about recovery. It’ll be about what’s been done. And, just how long we have to go. I’ve been discussing this a little bit in my past few posts, but with all of the Sunday “special” stories about New Orleans recovery, a huge amount of controversy has been generated. It doesn’t help that the mayor has been blowing his horn about our “big” recovery story. Well, it ain’t so. We have a long, long way to go. The same people who normally get left behind are still being left behind.

I could go on and on and on and on. That’s enough for today.

The pictures.

  1. Coming out of the front door. This is how a parade starts. I’ve been intentionally framing a little looser. I want to show you how the main subject relates to the scene.
  2. This is luck. I focused where I thought the trumpet player was going and he sort of pulled back. I like pictures in which a tiny detail becomes the main subject. When people talk about “fine art photography,” this is an example of it within the broader scope of my work.
  3. This is Tyrone. He is honoring the latest ancestors of The Valley of Silent Men Social Aid and Pleasure Club. They passed in the last year. May they rest in peace.
  4. This little princess was about the fourth person out go the door.
  5. The second line passes through the neighborhood. That guy pulling that giant cooler is selling cold drinks. We all needed them. The parade started as planned, but late in the day. 3pm. My car’s thermometer said it was 97 F. Still we came out. We had to.
A Trumpet Player's Hands
A Trumpet Player’s Hands
Honoring the ancestors who passed last year.
Honoring the ancestors who passed last year.
Little princess
Little princess
Passing through the neighborhood.
Passing through the neighborhood.


    1. Thank you. I think you mean WWOZ. We listen to them online when we travel or on the radio when we are home. Thanks for the link. But, most of us who live in New Orleans and have worked our way through the last ten years really want nothing to do with the deluge of media from everyplace who know nothing of our city. I know that the BBC means well. I know that the rest of them do too. But, for us enough is enough. They keep trying to make our story their story. Peace, Ray.


      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you, Michelle. This picture is mostly a combination of experience and luck. I generally photograph fast moving things on manual. My hand-eye coordination is still faster than most cameras’ autofocus module. That’s because I cheat. 🙂 I focus on where my experience tells me the subject is going to be. I was really after a bit of the trumpet player’s face. That’s where the luck came in. He didn’t in quite move the way that I expected. That later afternoon light helped a lot too.


    1. I believe you make your own luck 😉
      I love that you focus on where experience tells you to. This is the piece I keep working on and am getting better with. I photographed the high school football scrimmage last week and got lucky simply because I understand the game and knew where I could get the best action and expressions. That said, I could sure use a dose of your hand-eye coordination!


      1. Sort of. It’s just being there, or what a friend calls photographer’s luck. Well, I played football and baseball as a teenager, which probably means I have some hand eye skills… I was going to use a baseball example. The best hitters can’t really see where the ball is going, they swing at where they think it is going to be. Like anything, that just takes a lot of practice.

        Liked by 1 person

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