Getting in the zone.
Getting in the zone.

This is why.

This is the reason that I like to work from the start of almost any parade. Especially Mardi Gras parades. This is where the pictures are. The unusual pictures. The little moments. The interaction between the subject, other subjects and me. This is where I actually get to talk to the people who are walking, riding or playing music during the parade. This is where I make friends.

Take a look. The young lady in “And, Once Again at Zulu” and “All Smiles” is the same person. I made “All Smiles” at the first Uptown parade of the season. “And, Once Again at Zulu” was made on Mardi Gras Day in the frozen dawn. The one of the two last formal parades of the season. She was the Mardi Gras Queen of her high school. She led her school’s band during the parade. I already had emailed her digital files of her earlier performance, so when she saw me at dawn she was happy to see me. Yes, yes. She received digital files from the massive Zulu parade as well. That’s what you do.

I’ll get back to that in a bit. But first, just a little about the pictures. This is how I prefer to work. One or two camera bodies. Shorter lenses. Let everybody see what I’m doing. No lurking. No shooting from a long distance. Instead; lots of smiles, lots of talking and lots of business cards. No, no, no. I’m not looking to make money from the people I photographed in these pictures. I want them to know that I’m for real and that pictures of them are theirs just for the asking.

I have no idea which picture I like best. It changes hourly. For me, this is a very nice selection of pictures. A little portfolio. It leads up to this Friday night when I actually shoot the first of the Uptown parades.  These pictures are about my memories. When I took “And, Once Again at Zulu,” the temperature was about 28 degrees. On that day, the high temperature never got above 31 degrees. Freezing rain all day. Very icy and cold streets. To some of you, that might not be very cold. To us, down here in the swamp with the normal humidity turned frigid, that’s brutal. Then, there is “The Waiting is the Hardest Thing.” I forget where online I first posted it, but somebody said, “Too bad, if the car wasn’t there it would have been a perfect picture.” To me, the car adds the layer that makes it very close to being perfect.

Oh well. It’s all a matter of viewpoint. And, perspective,

Oh yeah. About that comment, “That’s what you do.” Sharing with the people that I photograph on the streets is a matter of respect. Paying it. They work very hard to do what they do. Giving them a few pictures is the least I can do. In return, I am also respected. I can work much easier. I’m helped when I need it. People smile at me even when I get in their way. They push me gently to the front of the crowd. Of course, sometimes you also feel their pain. Today, we lost a musician. A saxophone player. Clarence Trixey Slaughter. Another pal on the scene. I don’t know why or how. I suppose it doesn’t matter. RIP.


  1. Ray, a wonderful series.
    You’re right about the business cards. As you know having spent time in Asia, business cards are a must. Here in the U.S. not so much. But I can tell you a business card can mean the difference between suspicion and trust. I like photographing the large electrical transmission towers and I had someone ask what I was doing. As I was telling him I was a photographer I was pulling out my business card to hand to him. His attitude went from suspicion to pointing out different areas to take photos of the towers. Card give you a level of professionalism.
    As to your images today, I’m taken with the first of the youngster with the horn and no mouth piece. Absolutely wonderful contact. It really makes the image personal.
    Sorry its cold too cold. Keep warm and safe.


    1. Thank you, Tim.

      First about the mouthpiece. There’s reason for that. The schools assign the instruments. The kids have to pay for their own mouthpieces. They tend to disappear. So most of students keep them in their pocket until its time to play. Many of those students eventually find their way into the brass bands that play during second lines. The best of those — like the musician I mentioned — may eventually record and tour. Old habits die hard. When they first gather before the second line, most of their instruments do no have mouthpieces until it’s time to play. If you see them in a club, their instruments are on stage… you guessed it, without mouthpieces.

      Funny thing about business cards. Yep, they work like you say. And, I suppose for the reason you say — professionalism. In this country, I’ve never understood why. After all, these days, we can just print them on a home computer. I think about a quarter of the NOPD have my cards. 🙂 That’s just fine with me.


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