The One

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.

Published by Ray Laskowitz

I am a visual storyteller. I've been making pictures for some 40 years. I travel the world in search of the right image. in the right light at the right time. You can reach me by phone at 505.280.4686, or by email at or For a quick look at my work please go to

6 thoughts on “The One

  1. Stunning Ray. This really tells the story of emotion. So often I associate the Mardi Gras Indians through their musical instruments, wonderful costumes and not their voices. Thank you for taking me in a different direction and allowing it to speak to me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Many MGI are known for their voices. They have big, rich, deep voices. They can sing without instrumental backing or with just percussion instruments. Those are the Indians who work all year around on stages and with really tight little jazz/funk bands. No, bo, no… Thank you. If this work is speaking to you than I’m successful. That is the hardest think to do.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I was think more in the metaphysical terms when giving voice as you pointed out in the last part of your reply. However, it is nice to know more about those who have a voice that is used extensively for others to enjoy.
        In simple terms, YES, your images are successful in speaking to me. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I see. I was speaking more in pure physical terms. I can hear them from blocks away. I’m not sure it’s used just for others to enjoy. MGI pay respect to Native Americans, by singing in the way that they do they are reaching into their souls and memories. For instance, MGI are singing from their history of slavery, back through Haiti and Africa. I suppose that’s metaphysical.

        Liked by 1 person

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