Where I Work

Where I work.

This is where I work. On the street. When I photograph second lines.

As you all know, I like to work close with wide lenses. I think wideness not only propels the subject into the foreground, but they also help with context by setting the scene.  In this case, it helps when the subject is dressed in bright red which was the social club’s color for 2018.

That said, I thought I would share this with at the request of my digital pal on the scene, Tim Allen. You can have a look at his work here. https://allentimphotos2.wordpress.com We were talking in comments and he suggest that I show you where and how I work.

I think this picture gives you an idea of what I go through when I kiddingly say that photographing a second line is like being inside of a rugby scrum. To make this picture I was crouched on the ground. After my tales of my arthritic back and hip, you know this is no small task. I can get down. It’s hard to get back up. I’m working between two other photographers, even though one is working with a smart phone. That doesn’t matter. It’s a public street. He has as much right to be there as I do. What you can’t see is that there are two or three photographers over my back.

This work isn’t like photographing professional sports, or even Olympic sports. When you work those, you are credentialed and given a place to work. Usually from a pit or a sideline. You are not directly involved. When you photograph a second line you are in the middle of things. Even once the coming out phase is over, I end up in one of three places for as long as I walk.

I’m either in one of the brass bands. Or, I’m at the front of the second line walking backwards. Or, the second line catches up with me and I’m in the middle of the social club. That, by the way, is a no-no. The people walking with the club will just shove you out-of-the-way if they don’t recognize you or you foolishly think you can stand your ground.

One more thing. Most second liners walk anywhere from four to six miles. The rarely return to the place where they started which means you either have to walk back or park your car where the parade ends, and walk to the start. So, anywhere from 8 to 12 miles for a photographer covering the complete parade. This is over potholed streets and sometimes dangerous neighborhoods. When you are with the second line you are safe. But, carrying cameras by yourself? That’s another matter. You’d just better have some great situational awareness. I do. But, I’m getting old. I might miss things. And, if I happen to be walking in pain, I’m usually gritting my teeth and forging straight ahead.

And, that’s the story.

Thanks, Tim, for the great idea.

13 thoughts on “Where I Work

  1. I know that girls in music videos are typically on roller blades to give the illusion that they are walking without looking wobbly…Could you photograph while on wheels? I’m thinking something to make all the walking easier haha.


    1. Thank you. My real approach is that I want to be in the middle of something, not outside of it. It’s why I haven’t photographed cityscapes for a while. I don’t know how to put myself in the middle photographically. That also partially explains why I don’t photograph when I do my other job…


  2. Ray, thank you so much for posting this and giving me a line. Really, not necessary but thank you.
    I agree with Kim. It’s not easy doing what you’re doing. It does wear and tear on the body. Action and movement are paramount to getting the shot. No wonder you thought seriously of quitting the Second Line shooting.
    When you mention wide angle what lens are you shooting with? Sometimes I see some distortion but not a lot. Does it come out in lens correction?
    Again, Ray thank you and take care of yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome. And, you asked a great teaching question. I still may give it up. I;m probably the one of oldest working photographers out there and it shows. I rarely walk the whole parade for some of the reasons that I outlined.

      My lens was a 16mm, now it’s an upgraded to a 10-16 Sony Master which is sharp and contrasty. Almost too contrasty. I still use the 16 because ot;s a pancake and very stealthy. Distortion… some comes out in process, some just isn’t there with newer glass. Apparently, there is a new 18 or 20mm Leitz lens that is distortion free. I don’t understand that because optics and physics are seemingly being bent in directions unknown. 🙂

      Thank you. I do. I manage my issues pretty well. People in my house will yell ate me if I’m walking around like the 125 year old man. 🙂


      1. Thank you for the information on the lens. I can see why you’d want to go to a wider angle with the 10. It is remarkable that the distortion with that wide a lens is removed. I walk around with a Tamron 16-300mm. It’s pretty long for close work but I hate carrying equipment and changing lens. Thanks again for taking the time to do these lengthy responses.

        Hang in there and yes sometimes it does feel like we’re older than we are.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You’d be surprised at the technology today. A newer model of your lens might be more distortion free or at least better. I don’t have anything as long as 300 mm any longer. Back in my newspaper days I worked with an old Nikon 400 f3.5 and Tri-x for film. I could isolate anything we that. And yet, I worked fairly close.


  4. Every parade I went to, took pictures at just about did me in. Especially the walking from finish to start and sometimes those neighborhoods plus bus rides to and from. Most demanding photography I’ve ever done overall. Nevertheless I miss doing them. 🤐📷

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. It is hard work. You know what I say, it’s like being in a rugby scrum. And, with our backs and legs, well you know. To that end, I decided to stop being so old. We bought memory foam mattress. That was almost life changing. With my New Mexico orthopod’s approval, I’m working out in a gym.I have proper exercises and so on prescribed by him. My kiddie doctor in NOLA has no idea…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I should look at a better mattress too. I had a good one there but not as good here. The gym and exercises sound good. I’ve been fixing up a 20 yr old truck a little at a time and even what seem to be simple things are painful the next day. As for the doctor, at least you have access to a good one and only one time zone away.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We spent go money on this one, but… oh wow. That’s what I’m trying to stay away from. That, and needing a little cart to roll around in… I was one of my doctor’s show piece patients. He replaced my hip and by about a month later I was already running a little. But, I took rehab very seriously. I just had to remind myself to do it again, now.

        Liked by 1 person

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