Month: March 2018

CTC Original Steppers


You know this already. The tuba starts it. When you hear the tuba start playing bottom notes you know the second line is about to start. Not only do they sound the opening notes of the parade, but they start again when the parade resumes after taking a break along the route. I made these pictures after I photographed the Indian funeral. I had to find them in mid parade. Luckily, I caught the second liners at a planned break in the Lower 9th Ward. Actually, they came to me. I say luckily because sometimes you can’t find them. You fall in behind them or too far out ahead. Or, you miss a turn. I knew the pictures could not have the same “coming out the door” explosive quality. So, I nibbled at the edges. I looked for details. I looked for little moments. I looked for something that might be symbolic. Although you don’t see it in these pictures, I have a couple of bad outtakes that illustrate the physicality of these parades. And, …

And, Then Again


Finally. I’ve managed to put together enough time to actually paint a portrait of Super Sunday . At least as I see it. It’s about celebration and joy and energy and color. It’s a little spiritual, traditional and ritualistic. It’s an incredible experience. When a lot of people say something like, “Only in New Orleans,” this is one event that you’ll never see anyplace else. Oh sure, a lot of cities across the country celebrate Mardi Gras Day. But, it ain’t the same. Sometimes it’s just sad. When I lived in New Mexico, I went to Mardi Gras in Albuquerque’s Old Town. They tried. I cried. It was the most depressing Mardi Gras Day I’ve ever been to.  I realized that they didn’t understand our New Orleans culture. You see it in the food too. There are “Cajun” restaurants all over the place. I’m always disappointed. Someone once tried to foist  some meat and cheese on a hot dog bun on me. They called it a po’boy. Yeah. Right. At the end of the day, …

Passings


Indian funerals. They are like nothing you’ve ever seen. If you get a chance to go, you should go. They are spiritual. They are magical. And, the are colorful. Keep in mind this is a very sacred event. Respect what you see. Respect who you see. And, pay your respects to the person who has just passed. As you know, for me, the work is the prayer. I pay my respects by making pictures and documenting the scene. I know enough to not get close to an Indian meeting on the scene — the Indians who have circled to discuss their roles on the street — and who may or may not know each other.  And, I know enough not to get into anybody’s faces while I think I am doing my job. This pictures barely scratch the surface of what happened on this day. A day of celebration of life for Big Chief Tom Sparks Jr. A word about Big Chief Tom. He started walking in 1947. He was the oldest living Indian before …

Big Chief John


Big Chief John. Of The Original Wild Tchoupitoulas Tribe. I’ve been knowing him for at least six years. He was a Wildman then. His queen taught me how to present myself to a tribe who didn’t know me. And, how to behave when I work around suited indians. I see a lot of disrespect from some photographers when they get too excited to think about what they are doing. I’ve pretty much documented his suits since then. For me, this is his prettiest suit yet. It’d bold and powerful. As we say, “Pretty, pretty.” I had great plans of posting a nice little portfolio of work today. But, work and other stuff piled up to the point where I have no idea when I’ll get done. So, more cherry picking. I guess it’s better to be busy than bored. Thank you, both here and on other social media, for your kind comments about my work these past few days. It matters. Even if I forget to say that.    


Slowly. Ever so slowly. Because, I’m still recovering from a long and gruelling weekend. The story so far. I’ve managed to download, backup and curate the images from four events. But, I seem to run out of steam early in the afternoon. So I cherry pick for you. At other times I sleep. I did way too much of that yesterday. I have a couple of big projects that need doing. They are going to need doing for the rest of the week. Of course, my images must come first. So, today I think it’s this work. Walking the dogs. And, hitting the gym. That may not sound like much. But developing and fine tuning this work is very time-consuming. At least ten hours. Dog walks take about an hour and there are at least two. The gym also takes about an hour. Obviously, I won’t complete the photo work today. That said, here’s my Super Sunday picture for today. I like it because of the black and white, highlighted by the touches of red. …

Super Sunday No. 1


You could say that I’m confused. I have three fairly important shoots to show you. Where do I start? How do I start? I did the easiest thing. I cherry picked for today. I haven’t had time to curate, let alone develop, and finish the images that I made this weekend. I just picked a picture that I like to show you. Call it a teaser. This is mostly what you could call a street portrait. But, it’s more. She’s listening to her big chief sing. She was standing on a short stage with Big Chief John and a couple of others. I was working slightly below her. Pictures made at this angle often have a majestic look to them. This one certainly does. So. There will be lots more pictures coming this week. I’m pretty sure I’ll run into next week when Easter Sunday images will be current. There are the big French Quarter parades and an Easter second line way, way Uptown. At least I have a schedule. Of sorts. It’s funny. I’m …

A Sunday Break


Sunday. Uptown Super Sunday. That’s my work for today. When I say work, I mean it. Big crowds. Rough and broken streets. Too many photographers who don’t know the rules of the street… But. It’s great fun. I get to see friends that I haven’t seen for a while. I get make some really good pictures — not because I’m any good, but because they are there to be photographed.  Of course, this is two days in a row. I photographed the Indian funeral and a second line. I got to the end of the march, but most people were starting to leave. Why aren’t you seeing any of that today? Well, I’m old. I’m slow. I also truly believe that pictures need to marinate for a few days before you cull and edit them. I did download everything and backup the files. I took a passing look at them, but that’s where I stopped. I’ll try to do some editing a little bit, tonight and tomorrow. No worries. The rest of the week will likely …

Sunset in the Graveyard


I don’t often photograph sunsets. When I do. I either turn around and make a picture of where that glorious golden fell and illuminated something, or I make the foreground dominant. To me, a sunset picture without that is just a postcard. That’s why I photograph power poles. They aren’t pretty but they give the scene some kind of subject. That happens when I’m out-of-place. On St. Joseph’s Night I was very lucky. I parked my car near the cemetery as I usually do when I work on that side of Central City. I got out of my car and this scene was staring at me. All those crosses. Even the telephone pole seems to fit right in. This is a prime example of photographer’s luck. I learned something that night. I’ve been calling the side-by-side cemeteries Lafayette No. 2. Nope. I saw a brass sign. It is located in a place where you might not look. Those two cemeteries are St. Joseph No. 1 and 2. I’ve been calling them by their wrong names …

One More Night


A little more red. A little more color. A little more light. A little more joy. A little more celebration. And, the last of this series for you. I made a lot more pictures than I’ve shown you. If you’d like to see more just let me know. But, I reckon a weeks worth of pretty Indians is about enough for now. Besides, the postponed Uptown Super Sunday takes place this Sunday. That means another week of Mardi Gras Indians. Actually, this is one crowded weekend. On Saturday, there is an Indian funeral for the longest walking Indian. He started out in 1947. He passed about a week ago. There is the make up second line. And, there is the local version of March For Our Lives. They all start at about noon. I can’t be in three places at once, although there is the possibility of photographing the start of one and the end of another. I have my idea about how to prioritize this, but what would you do? To my mind they …

Motion Studies


The story until now. They all came out on St. Joseph’s Night in Central City. They walked. They danced. They sang. They challenged other tribes to prove they are wearing the prettiest suits. They all say, “Pretty, pretty,” after they do a little dance off. Both are prettiest. Me? As a photographer, I see this is as a night filled with color and light and energy. So, that’s the kinds of pictures I try to make. I have to think about this sometimes. We live in an age where many people define a good picture by its sharpness. That’s why you see so many high megapixel cameras and high-resolution lenses. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’d rather start with that and work backwards, rather than try to reach forward with really cheap lenses. I make a big deal of saying gear doesn’t matter. To a point that’s true. But, picture quality does matter. That means both cameras and lenses. It used to be that camera quality could last over many years. Now they are little …