Once in a great while…

St. Joseph’s Night. Uptown.

As the Mardi Gras Indians emerge from the club that is their dressing room, other unsuited Indians play and sing them out. For the unsuited Indians it is a tradition and a show of respect. They play as if their lives depend on it.

For me, it’s how things start. Loud. Noisy. Joyful.

I made this picture with a 16mm lens. Very wide. Very close. That’s how I like to work. In the middle of things. The Indians allow me to work like that because I show them the proper respect. If I can yell out loud enough, I thank them. If not, I give them a thumbs up and a nod of my head. I give somebody with pockets my business card. For them, my pictures are free.

On this night I was trapped between these guys, the Indians who were coming out on the street and the crowd trying to get close to either take pictures, or say hello to their friends and neighbor Indians. It was a good place to be trapped. All I needed to do was turn around because pictures were everywhere.

The picture. I call it “The One,” because every now and then I make a picture good enough to be my yearly signature picture. Obviously, I can’t predict the future. I may make other even better pictures as the year rolls on. Even though I certainly will try, I doubt it will happen. This was my magic moment.

To me, this picture says everything about the street, traditions and rituals. But, as I’ve learned in the past, you have to be there. If I show it to you in some place where our traditions aren’t well-known, you’d likely say something like, “Yeah, that’s nice,” and move on to another picture. I get it and it never bothers me.

The technical stats for those of you who want to know, are f 5.6 exposed for around 1/15th of a second using all the axis stabilization possible. Auto ISO. No flash. All available light. I was lucky, they were singing in a pool of light.

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