This is it.

Three days of “best of pictures.” At least that’s what I think today. Tomorrow, I may not like any of the 36 pictures that I’ve shown you over the past three days. You’ve seen most these New Orleans culture pictures in the past, I think. Some were images in posts. Others were parts of my show. Some mean a little more to me than others do. One that comes to mind immediately, is the picture simple titled, “Blue.” I made it on a day when I could barely walk. I recovered. I’d like to think that my recovery was aided by the energy of the people in these pictures.

As I’ve said during the past week, this year ended as it started. With a jazz funeral. In between there were many, many second lines, Mardi Gras, the Tenth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I photographed Mardi Gras Indians, a Big Queen, social & aid clubs, brass bands and Zulu Tramps. I saw a lot of happiness, respect and love. People danced. They played music. They sang. Sometimes, they laughed. Sometimes, they cried. They were always happy to see each other.

I worked in almost every kind of weather. On Mardi Gras Day, I worked in freezing weather. During the early summer and early fall I worked in oppressive heat. I worked in 90% humidity and heavy rain. I’m not the only one. There are a group of photographers on the scene. Mostly for second lines. We come out almost every Sunday. It’s a commitment. In time. In energy. And, in a little money.

It’s worth it.

I’ve seen and learned more than I could in almost any other city. I’m grateful for that. It’s humbling to be accepted on the streets.

And, that’s 2015.

Most of you will likely read this on early New Year’s Eve, or New Year’s Eve day. Thank you for reading, looking at the pictures and sometimes commenting.

Happy New Year.

Happy 2016.


Another best of collection.

This time it’s locations. Places. Cities. Nature. Details.

As I was reviewing this work, a thought struck me. So much of it is either weather driven or made at the edges of the day. I just don’t take many pictures at high noon. I’ve preached about that enough in the past. Even the picture of the pick up truck in The Bywater was made before ten o’clock in the morning. Is this the only way to work? Not necessarily. But for me it is. For me, it’s a sort of rule. Yeah. Sure. When I photograph events, like a second line parade, I have no choice. But so much of my work is not driven by schedules. Even when the work is commissioned, I try to build a little extra time into my shoot list to work when I’m pretty sure the light will be at its best.

So. To recap what I wrote yesterday, Today is about locations. Many of these pictures were made on the way to some place else. Tomorrow is about the local Mardi Gras culture. New Year’s Day is a free day. I have no idea what the picture will be. That’s the joy of this blog.There are many days when I have no idea what I’m going to post until I do it. On other days, it is part of a bigger plan. Or, something like that.


The best. Or not.

That is so subjective. But, it’s my subject. Hmmmm.

Just about every kind of media shows their best of something or other. This is the best of the ruined, abandoned and falling apart buildings that I founder the course of 2016.

There are a few more, but I created my own internal set of conventions. Rules to live by. For me.

I wanted the pictures to TRY to represent every month of 2015. That didn’t happen. I tried not to use pictures that were heavily manipulated in post production. With the exception of the Bohn Motors building, I pretty much succeeded. I tried to show you pictures that you might remember, but with a little spice of newness mixed in. There is one picture that you’ve never seen. See if you can figure out which one.

I didn’t limit the pictures to one location. I mostly show you pictures made in New Orleans. I travel. A lot. More than you know. But, that’s for other stuff. My other work. However, in trying to collect a picture from each month I had to stretch a little. For instance, the pictured called “Port Hudson” was made near… wait for it, Port Hudson, Louisiana. The picture called, “Once Upon a Club,” was made in Natchez, Mississippi. The rest are New Orleans pictures.

To update you little bit. Despite the city’s best efforts to tear it down, Club Desire is still standing. It’s really salvageable. It’ll come down some time in 2016. The picture called, “Not Der No Mo,” was made at the remaining old school housing projects in Central City. They are no longer standing. Some foundations remain. But, the buildings are gone.

For me, the best way to keep moving on this short three-day project is to tell you the rest of my scheduling plans. That way, I’ll really do what I say that I’m going to do.

So.

Wednesday. The best of the little things I’ve seen. Pictures made on the way from one place to another. Pictures made on the fly. Glimpses. Moments.

Thursday. The best of the Mardi Gras culture. Mardi Gras Indians. Second lines. Social clubs. I’m saving that for last because you’ve seen a lot of it lately. Between my gallery show and the events of the past few weeks, you’ve seen a lot.

Friday. New Year’s Day. I have nothing planned. But, we have a little household tradition. It started years ago. I like to work a little on New Year’s Eve. That — hopefully — sets the tone for the new year. So, likely you’ll see something brand new. Hours new. Like a new-born baby.

Don’t forget to click on the picture to open it.

 


Trumpeting away in the Hot 8 brass band.
Trumpeting away in the Hot 8 brass band.

Not like yesterday. Thankfully.

I don’t think I could write about something so tragic. So sad. Again. At least, not two days in a row. So, this second line was small by comparison. It was tight and compact. It wound its way through Central City. It was also a pretty happy event.

I decided that one picture is enough. A simple, but luckily, very well lighted portrait of the trumpet player in the brass band called Hot 8. They played in support of the Lady & Men Rollers, who were celebrating their 20th anniversary. You’ve seen this musician before. He and the band works a lot. All over the city. Around the country. And, often, the world.

In many ways, the Hot 8 mirror yesterday’s post. Among many other things, they’ve played at three jazz funerals. For three of their own members who were shot and killed in the past 18 years. A friend of mine mentioned that the city is 19th on the list of the world’s most dangerous cities. I’m beginning to wonder. What am I doing here?

The picture. I added a little color and glow to enhance the way the light fell upon the subject. For the most part, what you see is what I saw. I don’t know what BMGZ means. Next time I see these guys, I’ll ask.


The Krewe of Zulu came out.
The Krewe of Zulu came out.

Jazz Funerals.

I’m really starting to dislike that term. They are funerals. They are about death. They are about mourning. They are about understanding that all things must pass. And, that we in New Orleans accept that death as part of life. We mourn. We celebrate.

If you are visiting and want to see our culture for real — not in the “neon zone” on Bourbon Street — you might consider yourself lucky if you learn about a jazz funeral and attend. Most are fairly small and uncrowded. For the most part they are in public view. On the street. If you decide to go inside, please remember to dress appropriately. I cringe when I see some guy in shorts, a flowered shirt and flip-flops wandering around sticking a camera in front of mourners faces during the formal ceremony.

Yesterday’s funeral was not small. Instead, it was huge. I’ll tell you why. It’s going to be a little hard so bear with me if I ramble around. Just know that almost every tribe, gang, club and krewe was represented.

This wasn’t one funeral. It was two. It probably should have been three. One day about a week or so ago, there was a shooting. A killing. That’s common in this city. Hell, there were four shootings and five victims on Christmas Day. One of those people died.

The shooting I’m talking about took three lives. Twenty bullets were fired. It was no drive by shooting. It was a hit. The shooter or shooters killed a young man, Big Chief Lionel Delpit III. He was 25 years old. His companion, Breon Stewart, was also killed. She was 23.  That’s sad enough. But, their unborn child, Lionel Delpit IV was killed in utero. He would have been born last week or early this week.

Big Chiefs call and response.
Big chiefs call and response.

I’m not exactly sure what more to say.

So, I’ll tell you about what I saw, heard and what the day felt like.

Everybody was exceptionally kind. The above picture of the unsuited and unmasked big chiefs was made because they pulled me into their circle. We don’t all know each other, but we recognize each other from the street. And, I have a helluva rhythm when they start playing and singing. I believe you can’t shoot pictures without really feeling what you are seeing.

“What I saw” is a weird phrase. You would think that if I saw it, you will see it. Not yesterday. The crowd was huge. I couldn’t physically drift from one place to another like I usually do. So, sometimes I saw things that I couldn’t photograph. I saw a lot of sadness. The way that a jazz funeral usually works is that it starts with a dirge and ends in celebration. Not so much yesterday. Sure. There were hugs, smiles and even a little laughter as Uptown indians found their friends in Downtown tribes. I saw a friend of mine who is a Baby Doll (the female counterpart to an indian). She smiled at me through her tears. I could have taken that picture. I didn’t. That was our moment.

Then there was the weather. The temperature broke all sort of records. It was 83 yesterday in Treme. It was steamy. Very humid. When the sun broke through the clouds, it was downright hot. And, when it didn’t, rain fell lightly. It was December 26th, but it felt like early summer.

It felt right.

Sadness.
Sadness.

This picture is just plain old hard to look at. He was the very first Mardi Gras Indian I photographed when I returned to New Orleans after my time in New Mexico. If you go to my Twitter feed and actually look at my page, you’ll see him as the background image. I was going to change that with the turn of the year. I don’t think that I will.

Big Chief.
Big Chief.

I was going to show these pictures to you one or two at a time like I usually do. I can’t this week. There is a big second line today. It’s the 20th Anniversary of The Lady & Men Rollers. I want to show you a few of those pictures on Monday. Then, like just about everybody else, I want to show you my best pictures of the year. There are three days of that. The culture. Stuff falling down. And, stuff I just saw. 12 pictures each day. 36. That’s pretty good year if you consider that Ansel Adams said that if you took ten great pictures in a year then you had an exceptional year. I doubt my year was as good as that. But, still…

All things must pass.
All things must pass.

And, finally. This year ends as it started. With a big, huge jazz funeral. The first one was for Bo Dollis. He lived a life. A good life. He brought the music of the Mardi Gras Indians to the world. The last one, as I wrote, was for two young people. And, one yet to be born. They never had a chance.

That, my friends, has to change.


Minimalist Christmas.
Minimalist Christmas.

These people. In this house. Our house. Not the house in the picture.  That house. These people. They don’t like my minimalist ways.

It’s how I work. It’s how I think. I’d rather strip things down than build them up. I’d rather get to the point, rather than make people search for the point. That includes Christmas or Mardi Gras decorations. These people in this house give me a lot of grief about that. They want lights. They want decorations. They want the house to look like Tim “The Toolman” Taylor’s house did on the old television show, “Tool Time.” Gimme a break. It would cost more to light this house than it cost to cool it in the heart of summer time. Summer time, when the weather is extremely hot. When the humidity is unbearable. When you melt into the sidewalk. When the dogs take a shed day. Everyday.

No.

I’m not a Grinch. I like Christmas. But…

So.

Finally, I found it. People who think the way that I do. I just gotta meet these people. I gotta thank them for providing me with photographic proof. This is how you decorate a house. Simple. Clean. Not using too much electricity. This house still makes a statement. Elegant. Understated.

The picture. Ho, Ho, Ho… I found the house. The decorations. I took the picture. The light was right. The house was right. The lights… perfect.

By the way, settle down. This is written mostly tongue-in-cheek.


Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas.

Sen Plesierige Kerfees, Rehus-Beal-Ledeats, Gezur Krislinjden, Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah,
Felix Navidad, Shenoraavor Nor Dari yes Pari Gaghand, Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun ,Selamat Hari Natal, Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!, Shave Naba Barsha, Vesele Vance, Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo, Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat, Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo, Bon Nadal i un Bon Any Nou!, Gun Tso Sun Tan’Gung Haw Sun, Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan, Yukpa, Nita Hollo Chito, Feliz Navidad y Prosper Año Nuevo, Nadelik loan na looanblethen noweth, Pace e salute, Rot Yikji Dol La Roo, Mitho Makosi Kesikansi, Sretan Bozic, Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok, Glædelig Jul, Christmas-e- Shoma Mubarak, Vrolijk Kerstfeest en sen Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!, Merry Christmas, Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame pivdluaritlo!, Gajan Kristnaskon, Ruumsaid juulup|hi, Gledhilig job og eydnurikt nyggjar!,
Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashed, Hyvaa joulua, Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar,
Joyous Noel, Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier!, Bo Nada, Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr!,Froehliche Weihnachten, Kala Christouyenna!, Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!, Mele Kalikimaka, Mo’adim Lesimkha. Chena tova, Shub Naya Baras, Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!,Mele Kalikimaka me Hauoli Makahiki Hou!, Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket, Gledileg Jol, Selamat Hari Natal, Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah, Nollaig Shona Dhuit or Nodlaig mhaith chugnat, Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut. Ojenyunyat osrasay., Buone Feste Natalizie, Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto, Mithag Crithagsigathmithags, Sung Tan Chuk Ha, Natale hilare et Annum Faustum!, Prieci’gus Ziemsve’tkus un Laimi’gu Jauno Gadu!, Wjesole hody a stroke now leto, Precious Ziemassvetkus, Linksmu Kaledu, Heughliche Winachten un ‘n moi Nijaar, Sleken Bozhik, IL-Milied It-tajjeb, Nollick ghennal as blain vie not, Meri Kirihimete, Shub Naya Varsh, Merry Keshmish, God Jul or Gledelig Jul, Pulit nadal e bona annado, Bon Pasco, Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long yu, En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hellish Nei Yaahr!, Felix Navidad y un Ventures Año Nuevo, Malayan Paso!, Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia Boze Narodzenie, Feliz Natal, Christmas Aao Ne-way Kaal Mo Mubarak Sha,
Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi. Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua, Bellas festas da nadal e bun one, Legreivlas fiestas da Nadal e bien kiev one!, Sarbatori vessel, Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom, Buorrit Juovllat, La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou, Bonu nadale e prosper annum not, Hristos se rode, Cretan Boric or Vesele vianoce, Burrito Juovllat, La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou, Nollaig chridheil huibh, Sretam Bozic. Vesela Nova Godina,
Heists se rode, Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa, Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok, Vesele Bozicne. Screcno Novo Leto, Feliz Navidad, God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År, Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon, Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal,
Neekiriisimas annum oo dyer self feyiyeech!, Sawadee Pee Mai, Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun, Srozhdestvom Kristovym,  Naya Saal Mubarak Ho, Chung Mung Giang Sinh, Nadolaig Llawen, Cestitamo Bozic, E ku odun, e ku iye’dun!

There you have it.

No matter how you say it. No matter how you hear it. No matter how you write it. No matter how you read it.

Merry Christmas…

Y’all.


Tax season, or maybe not at this place.
Tax season, or maybe not at this place.

This doesn’t look like the kind of place that I’d use for preparing and paying my taxes. I happened to see it on the way to some place else. I’m always kind of fascinated by these old, run down, beaten up small businesses. It appears that the owner of this place works on taxes every day of the year, pretty much on customer demand.

Now. Today. Right this minute.

That doesn’t sound like much fun.

I’m not exactly sure who his clients might be. If you’ve kept any kind of records you can file online in probably less than an hour. I don’t know how it works in other countries, but since the U.S. government is usually behind on tech-things, I suspect it’s even easier in countries around the world.

That said, pictures of places like this could be another book project. A fine art project. Kinda. Sorta. It won’t get done. I’ve sort of lost my juju for photographing long-term projects.

The picture. This is one of those see it, photograph it, kind of pictures. But, it wasn’t quite that simple. I Saw it. I drove past it. I thought to myself, “Wait a minute. You like that place.” I wanted to turn around but it wasn’t that easy. I was in the middle lane. In some semi-heavy traffic. I couldn’t merge left. I couldn’t merge right. It took me a few minutes and a couple of miles to turn around. I managed to do it. Of course when I got back to the scene I was headed the wrong way. So, I passed by this place again. At least making a u-turn was easier this time. I parked on a side street. A dog barked at me. I just kept walking. To stand in front of this beat up old building. And, push the button.

I must have really wanted to take this picture.

Yes. I added a lot to the original picture in post production. You know why.