The tuba starts it.

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.

A wink and a nod.

Although you don’t see it in these pictures, I have a couple of bad outtakes that illustrate the physicality of these parades. And, why I need recovery time. In case you are wondering about 90% of my work isn’t worth publishing. That’s the trick. You don’t need to show anybody your bad stuff.

All in feathers.

The pictures. As always, see it. Photograph it. Don’t think. It’ll only get in the way. As the late and famous New York Yankees baseball player Yogi Berra once said to his manager, You want me to think and hit the ball?”

That’s really hard. Make it easier on yourself.

A little housekeeping. I made a nice Easter picture at this second line. You’ll see it tomorrow. Then, I’ll show you a series of spring tree pictures for the remainder of the week. Even though I was photographing these events, I made time to do other work. Lots and lots and lots of other work.

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Really young child on the scene.

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, you just have to be in New Orleans. You have to get out of the French Quarter and into the neighborhoods. You have to eat in local food places. You have to eat our street food. You have to dance in the streets.

Whew. What a semi-rant.

Rolling up Washington.

Meanwhile, back to last Sunday’s big event. Uptown Super Sunday. These pictures are my view. Kinda. Sometimes, I miss pictures. Sometimes, I’m in the wrong place. Sometimes, I need to take a break and just sit. I let the pictures come to me, rather than chasing around trying to photograph everything. Focus on one place. Photograph the people I know. And, share my images with them.

Bang, bang, bang.
The whole tribe.
Smiling queen.

The pictures. You know what I’m going to say. F8 and be there. Photograph what you see. Don’t look for some pre-conceived subject. Let the pictures unfold in front of you. Don’t put blinders on looking for the picture you have in mind. The ones you saw in a book or online. Make other pictures. Different pictures. maybe, even better pictures.

And, that’s Super Sunday 2018.

Inspiring.

 


Spy Boy Dow leads them out.

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 he passed. He was 86 years old. One of the things you may not know about me is that I live by some old Chinese sayings. One of which is, “When somebody dies who is over 80 years old, you laugh.” That’s the literal translation. It really means that you should not mourn for too long. Instead, you should celebrate their life.

Rolling to heaven.

The pictures. Nothing new here. F8 and be there. The real technique is what I’ve learned from years on the street. Things like moving in front of people with a smile and a kind word. A building of trust so that the Indians don’t toss you out of the circle. I felt like I succeeded when one of the pallbearers handed me his phone, checked to see if I was still carrying it, giving me a thumbs up and finally taking it from my hand when his job was completed. Smartphones are worth everything on the street. He trusted me to hold it. He is the guy in the blue shirt carrying the casket a couple of pictures down. It’s a little thing. But, it’s a big deal.

In honor.
Walking under the interstate.

And, so it ends. One man going home on a spiritual level. One Baby Doll walking under the interstate on Claiborne going to her earthly home.


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.

 

 


In black and white.

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. I think this guy is a Wildman. But, he turned away from me so quickly and got lost in the crowd that I couldn’t talk to him. Or, he could be repping something else. He comes very close to being masked as a skull and bones member. That’s sort of a violation of street code. Know who you photograph. Since Storyteller is distributed to Facebook and Twitter, maybe somebody will jump in and tell me. Please.

Anyway.

I’m sort of struggling with next steps. A lot of you here and on Facebook really liked my Sunday art work. I think that’s my direction forward. But, I’m a photojournalist at heart. And, the crosses at sunset seemed to confirm that with a lot of you. What do y’all think?

Trust me. I do listen. Tim suggested that I photograph the funeral first and I did. He helped me gain clarity. Sometimes, you just need to listen to somebody outside of your family.


Listening to her Big Chief sing.

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 trying to move towards the more artistic work like I published yesterday. Cultural events seem to be getting in the way. I suppose that’s good. Depending on how you look at it.

Oh. I have yet to experiment with culture and turn it into art. Somehow that seems sacrilegious.


Spring art, made by hand.

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 be all New Orleans culture, all the time.

This picture. I get bored lying around trying to let my body recover. Since I try not to use my mind when I make pictures, it’s fairly fresh. So, I started playing with a picture I made last week while walking the dog who sees things. You are looking at the final result of my artistic musings.

Don’t ask how I did it, because I’m not altogether sure. I can tell you that I started in one direction and changed paths so many times that I came close to confusing myself. That’s always fun because that’s where the magic lies. I can tell you one thing, that sunlight is really sunlight. It just wasn’t coming from above. It came from the side. So, I flipped the picture.

After all, art is art. I doesn’t matter how you got there.


Sunset in a special place.

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 for years. So does the city. So does Google maps. So do the people who live there. It just goes to show you what nobody knows anything. Much.

The picture. I actually made it through a chain link fence. It stuck the lens through one of the links and took the picture. The rest was easy. It almost needed no post production work.

 


Forming the parade.

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 are equally important. From the point of view of documenting history, there is only one choice.

Then, there’s Sunday. Super Sunday and a second line. That’s easy. Super Sunday first. The second line is called Revolution. Of course, it’s across the city. We’ll see. It is possible to photograph both.

So.

The good news, my physical problems seem to have settled down. For now. We bought a new bed.  One of those new disruptor companies. Unlike the ones that come in a box, these are hand-made. The come delivered with white glove service. They had a delivery window of from 9am until 1pm. The mattress and foundation were installed by 9:15am. The driver and helper were professional and fast. They even gave us a few minutes to vacuum under the bed. Of course the first one to test it was the dog who sees things.

I’ve also gone back to the gym. After consulting with my original orthopod, we came up with some exercises that are designed to build muscle and help to support my back without doing further injury. And, there is morning and evening stretching

Of course, there is still dog walking. If I tried to stop that there would be a revolution in this house.

For an old guy with physical issues, I may be getting more exercise than some of you young whippersnappers. Ha! My life depends on it. It makes everything better. Especially my version of street photography.

The picture. One more of Big Queen. She was backlighted in my opening picture last Tuesday. I felt like bookending this little portfolio with her was a good idea. At this point in the night, the Indians were forming up so that they could roll. The rest is my usual street formula. See it. Photograph it. Work for good pool of light in a night-time picture. And, hope for photographer’s luck.