On the Dark End of the Street

The quiet side.

The quiet side.

Most people think of the French Quarter as being loud. They think of people always partying. They think of the typical New Orleans craziness.

Let me tell you, we ain’t all that crazy.

We don’t spend much time in the Quarter. When we do, we rarely walk around on Bourbon Street. It’s usually too crowded. With partiers. And, bad guys. And, it stinks. Literally.

We do like walking in other parts of the Quarter. Like this place that I photographed. It’s way down river on Royal Street. People actually live here. People make their homes here. There are no bars. No clubs. Tourists rarely come down the street this far. It may actually be safer than the more heavily populated areas of the Quarter. There’s nobody to mug. Nobody to rob. Well, there are. But, they are very street smart.

If I ever lived in the Quarter, this is about where I’d do it. But, that’s not going to happen. But, it sure is nice to walk around this part of the Quarter. It’s also much harder to photograph. No matter. Making a successful picture when there isn’t a lot of action going on defines a “street” photographer. Or, it should.

One more thing.

I made this picture without a tripod. I rarely carry one when I work on the street. It’s too cumbersome. It takes too much time to set up. It attracts too much attention. That’s the last thing I want. You just have to learn your craft. The trick is to expose for some mid-tone. I used the street signs. It gave me enough detail in both the highlights and the shadows. I also knew that I was going to correct the exposure issues in post production. They say GIGO. But, not if you plan for it. I thought about what I was doing before I did it.

Housekeeping. I’m going to refocus Storyteller back to where it sort of began. About the photographs. A little bit about New Orleans stories.


I think some of the NOLA stories I tell you are confusing, especially to people who come here as tourists and mostly stay in The French Quarter. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, they usually stay in hotels and eat in restaurants. The chores of daily living are done for them. For the most part, they are protected from our random and violent crime. When it rains, they don’t have to deal with flooded streets.

They don’t know what it is to live in a city that is very hard on the people who live here. I suppose that can be true of any place. But, most places aren’t described in the loving terms that people use to describe New Orleans. Or, really the Quarter.

Anyway. Back to the basics.


Leave a Comment

  1. I know what you mean, on a much, much smaller scale. I grew up at the beach, on the Texas coast, in an area that had about 10% full-timers and 60% weekenders, and the rest of the dwellings were short-term rentals. Life was normal in the fall and winter, but in the spring and summer, we were inundated. Our house was the first one off of the beach highway and we had an unfettered view of the Gulf, and also the highway. There was a fatal accident on our stretch of road almost every year as someone grew tired of trailing a slowpoke and tried to pass on the 2-lane highway when they shouldn’t have, or drive on the shoulder. My mom was an RN and she trekked the 50 yards down to the highway quite a few times to see if she could help. Of course, people didn’t speak of our little peninsula as reverently as tourists like me speak of NOLA, but I get what you mean about a place being different to live in than to visit.

    On Sunday afternoons in the summer, when there was a steady stream of cars heading back to Beaumont or Houston or wherever they came from, my dad would always say, “there go the poor folk,” meaning that we experienced the richness of getting to stay while they had to go back to the “rat race”.

    I like the beach best in the winter. Maybe there’s a connection there. Anyway, keep up your knowledge-sharing about NOLA, lots of us are listening intently.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, I’ve never been to that part of the Gulf. I think the difference is — without actually knowing — that you go that part of the coast to relax, while you go to NOLA (Mostly the Quarter) to party. As I write, there are three of my high school classmates in town. We can’t see them because we are in OZ, but from their Facebook posts, the farthest out of the Quarter they’ve gotten is Frenchman Street. They are they type of tourist who thinks NOLA is nothing but that. And, that’s too bad.


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