Sometimes, it’s better to look along the edges of the event. Things get more interesting there. So do the pictures.
I’ve long said that for those of us who work second lines on a regular basis that our pictures look about the same. Oh sure, there are lens selection differences. There are post production differences and choices. But, the content — which is king — looks very similar.
I’ve been listening to two pieces of advice. One in the form of a quote. The other in a conversation with a sort of mentor.
The quote is musician Neil Young’s. He said it right after he had a couple of big hit albums in the 1970s. His work was becoming too middle of the road for him. His record label, promoters and publicists wanted more. The same kind of work, only slightly different. It made a lot of money. But, money isn’t everything. His response was to kill his pop career with three albums often referred as the ditch trilogy. They weren’t bad albums. But, they weren’t what was expected of him. In doing that he said, “Whenever I get too close to the middle of the road, I head straight for the gutter where things are more interesting.”
Well, that’s a bit harsh.
But, it is a good way to look at things that are getting a little too common. Yes. I photographed the second line as I normally would, but I paid closer attention to the edges. I wasn’t looking for the “normal” edge pictures like guys dancing on roofs or porches. That’s easy stuff. See it. Press the button. I was looking a little deeper. For smaller moments.
Those of you who seem to be right on my footsteps when you read this stuff can thank me when you see me. You know who you are. You can’t buy me a beer since I don’t drink. But, I accept cash. I’m fairly nondenominational. Bigger denominations are better. Oh yeah. One of you gets a pass…you don’t care what I do. Heh!
The second bit of advice came from someone who I think has been to New Orleans maybe twice in his life. But, he works regularly for Nat Geo Soc and is a Magnum member. These days he is producing his own books, which actually sell for big dollars.
That said, he reminded me that what I’m really doing no matter how artfully I try to do it, is documenting something that won’t be there in the future. I’m holding on to something special. I’m making pictures for future generations. Then, he proceeded to “hit me up the side of my head.” He told me to work harder. Longer. Forget this smarter nonsense. Make pictures. Post them here. There. Everywhere. Make books. Market them. Get the work out there anywhere that I can. As often as I can. After all. Life is short. Very short.
I keep telling myself that. Sometimes, it takes another voice to do the job. This time I listened. Because time fades away.
This picture. I was walking down one side of the second line. After a black SUV rolled by slowly, I decided that I want to be on the other side of the street. For no apparent reason. When I started walking along other side of the SUV, I saw these sisters. I saw the younger one first. Then the other one popped her head out of the window. She likes the color lavender. Check out the her phone case and her fingernails. She looks a little taciturn. No worries. She isn’t. Once I started keeping pace with the SUV, she started laughing and talking to me.
One more thing. It appears all this advice is working. I’ve been photographing everything that moves. And, some things that don’t. If you are reading the full version of Storyteller, look at the Instagram picture. Just my pool. Looks like a different place. If you’d like, please follow me there. I’m laskowitzpictures. I work really hard to post very different pictures than the ones I show you here.