Uptown. In Central City. Colors. Drumming. Dancing. Chants. Singing.
And, so much more.
I’m not a good enough writer to tell you how this feels, smells, tastes. To me, it’s a swirling mass of color, energy, and everything good about New Orleans.
Maybe, for me, it’s something deeper. More primal. Something sensual. I can tell you this, once the sights, feel, sounds, and smells get into me it’s all a dream. I can vaguely tell you about walking around, greeting those people that I know, stepping around people, slithering through crowds. But, I cannot actually pinpoint any one of those things in time. They just happened. They just were.
That is the perfect place from which to make pictures. It’s also exhausting. Not just physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Psychically. When I returned home, I downloaded the RAW files and took a nap.
The pictures. I suppose one of the reason I was tired physically was pretty simple. I walked over five miles through really big crowds. Walking on our broken, potholed, sinking, New Orleans streets is good exercise on any day. Now, add the crowds and that about half of those miles came from walking backwards.
That’s how you do it.
Someone asked me, in comments, since my pictures are so sharp did I use a tripod? Noooooo. Even if I was a tripod guy, there is no way to do that in a constantly surging group of people. The Indians are in constant motion. The benevolent clubs are in constant motion. The brass bands are in constant motion. The spectators are in motion with them. Once the parade starts, it seems as if the entire thing moves in unison. All at once. In order to take these pictures, I either have to move with it. Or, let it flow around me and double time it in order to catch up with it. That means making my way through crowds who are doing whatever it is they are doing. I cannot imagine carrying a tripod through all of that energy.
I did see a photographer carrying a short stool with him. He sat on it, planted his feet and took pictures. Then, he moved on. He said working this way is like combat photography. I replied, that they aren’t shooting at you and that stool is going to end up on some curb. In the trash. I never saw him again. Or, the stool.
At the end of the day, everybody has their own way of working. But, it really comes down to situational awareness. Style. And, most of all, intent.