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Eyes of the World


Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday.

“Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world. The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own. Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
But the heart has its seasons, its evenings, and songs of its own.”

— Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter — The Grateful Dead

A Super Sunday portrait. Much more to come. But, for now. A little rest. A lot of walking yesterday. And, dodging the crowd. And, bouncing around.

The picture. A straight ahead portrait. I asked. He nodded yes. The rest is as you see it.

 

It Comes and It Goes


All eyes.

A street portrait.

It took three attempts to write anything that I even marginally liked. Then, I realized I didn’t like the original crop of the picture.

So.

I re-cropped the picture. And, this is my fourth attempt at writing anything meaningful. I like the crop much better. It was too wide and skinny the first time around. I’m mostly just babbling, which is no different from the rest of my writing. But, usually I have a point to make.

I suppose that I really do have something to say.

Use it or lose it.

Because. The mojo comes and goes. Because. If you mess around too much with the marketing of whatever it is that you do, the magic leaves your fingertips. Your brain. And, your soul.

I’ve seen it happen way too many times. The marketing becomes the work. Often, it becomes the sole work. Market AFTER you are almost finished with your project. That includes blogging about it. Yeah, yeah. I know about creating a niche for your work. And, building towards it. But, if that becomes your work… well, you know. You’ll never finish your project.

And, before you are ready?

Work alone until the work is a little marinated. Then bring people into the project. Your work can become too distilled. Too vanilla. You can lose your original vision. Too many chefs and all of that. You know?

Once you get to that point, then share. You need a publisher. Or, a gallery. Or a label. Just about then, you need help. Outside help. Inside help.

Everybody needs an editor. Everybody needs another set of eyes. Everybody needs time. Everybody needs space. Start with your friends and family. Unless they can truly compartmentalize, don’t take their comments too seriously. They’ll either be jealous and unnecessarily cruel, or they’ll be too complimentary. Often without understanding the real world.

I’m not sure how I arrived at this topic. The picture has nothing to do with it. Except for the cropping issue. Maybe it was just the day. These things come in groups. A couple of you were asking about changing blog names. Another was asking how to review his work properly. And, so on. These were blog posts. Another guy asked me in comments if I would look at his work, posy by post. Uh… that’s a little too much to put on me.

The picture. It’s about my hand – eye coordination. I made it during the last second line. It really has very little to do with the actual event. I saw it for what it is — a street portrait. A millisecond either way and it wouldn’t exist. That’s a little of my mojo.

 

 

On the Other Side of the World


Square Eyes

I found this. On the other side of the world.

Or, some place along Bayou. St. John. Whichever comes first. If you live in New Orleans you might know where this place is located. If you don’t live in the city, it doesn’t matter. In any case, I’m not being very precise about its location. It’s just one of those things. You understand.

The picture was taken on the way to some place else. I saw it and I made the picture. I didn’t even tinker with those windows. They came that way. Or, somebody else did it. To the building, not on the digital file. By the way, I think this building is for sale. Either that, or the parking lot next to it.

Anyway.

Happy weekend. Mine will be short. St. Joseph’s Night. Super Sunday. And, a second line making its way through the Super Sunday parade. Too many people. Too many cameras. Not enough pictures. Heh!

The Tuba Starts It


Waiting to play.

That’s what they say. The Tuba starts it.

When you hear the first notes from the tuba you know the second line is about to begin. Playing a tuba is hard work. It’s heavy. The musician playing it walks about five or six miles. Maybe more. So, until it’s time to go to work, the tuba sits quietly on the ground.

I know. I know. Some of you have made comments like, “When my child played an instrument, it was alway stored carefully in its case. It would never be left just sitting on the ground.” For me, the operative word is “When.” Does he or she still play? If not, why not?

These guys are working musicians. Once they learned to play, they never stopped. They have gig bags. They transport their gear in them. They take the bags off their instruments and leave them in their cars. After all, do they really want to carry around one more thing that they won’t be using on a five or six-mile walk? This time of year walking is a little easier. Just wait until they are walking in July. In 98 degree heat. And, about 95% humidity.

That’s the other thing. Some of these guys may be too big. They may carry too much weight. But, they are true athletes. Maybe in the Russian weightlifter sense. You try carrying a tuba around in the heat of summer. You’ll see.

The picture. The true grab shot of grab shots. See all those legs in the picture? They were walking all around the tuba. I timed the exposure so that I had a clear view. For less than a second.

New Leaders


On the line.

The new leaders.

The young ones. The ones who carry the future. In their hands. I call them Baby Indians. I say that with all and deepest respect. And, admiration. They are learning early. They will be the leaders of the city. One day. Soon.

The pictures were made at the beginning of the Keeping It Real Second Line, when the children walk to honor, and to call attention to those who didn’t make it. The ones who lost their lives on our violent streets. Usually for no reason. They were just standing there. Or, sitting there. Because, the bad guys can’t shoot straight. Or, mostly because the bad guys just don’t think. Won’t think. Or, can’t think.

Technically, this is just about being there. Being a little bit patient. And, finding the moment. Anyone can do it. With a few years of practice. There are no tips for doing this. You can’t learn this in a few minutes. You have to work at it. Just like the baby Indians who will grow up to be adult Indians and leaders in the community.

Green glance.

 

 

And, the Music


Horns of plenty.

Keeping’ it Real. Sunday’s second line.

Between the march for non violence and the second line, there must have been about six or seven divisions. But, they were short, little tiny groups. As I said to a friend of mine on the scene, I must have walked the same 30 yards about ten times. That was okay. I got to see every start. And, I got to make a lot of pretty good pictures. After all, that’s my main reason for existence. Isn’t it? Heh! There was an added bonus to that. I was able to park less than a block away. When you aren’t feeling well, not walking extra miles to return to the start is an amazingly great thing.

No worries. One day. I’ll be better.

The picture. I wish I could tell you which band this is. Normally I can. But, most of the bands were cobbled together from members of other bands or freelancers. That’ll happen on a Sunday after everybody has been working into the early morning from Saturday night.

Technically, this wasn’t my usual “f 5.6 and be there” picture. I found a little angle and waited for it, hoping that nobody would pass in front of me and that the band wouldn’t stop dead in their tracks. That part was lucky. But, for once I actually saw the picture shaping up and planned for it.

One more thing. To a lot of you who found Storyteller from Facebook because of yesterday’s post featuring Rachel Carrico I hope you stick around. I make mostly New Orleans pictures. You might enjoy what you see.

Ice Divas


All happiness.

Ice Divas. They walked with Keeping’ It Real.

They are a neighborhood krewe. Some have left the city. Some came back. Came home. From places like Portland. Oregon. They came to be part of this. I suppose that’s what we do. Because this stuff gets in our blood. We come back. Even if we live some place else.

Truth be told, I’ve been thinking about leaving New Orleans. As I get older, I’m less willing to deal with “New Orleans Stuff.”

The out of control violent crime rate scares the hell out of me. I’m pretty good on the streets. I have a good set inner alarm bells. I can defend myself. To a point. But, you can’t defend yourself from the randomness of the crimes that are happening here. It’s hard to defend yourself from a 12-year-old boy holding a gun. A kid who has no idea of what it means to take a life. Or, who has had a long enough life to value his own life. Or, anybody else’s.

There is the gentrification. The things I like most about the city may not be sustainable. Housing costs are rising as fast as they possibly can. Many of the people you see in these pictures — social clubs, musicians, Mardi Gras Indians — can no longer afford to live here. Often, they live some place else and come back for their event. Or, for Mardi Gras.

Our roads. Our streets. Sheesh. I laugh when somebody posts a picture of a pot hole in Los Angeles or San Francisco and complains about it. I think to myself, “You call THAT a pot hole?” I thought about doing a book called “The Potholes of New Orleans.” I realized it would never be completed. I could work on it every day of my life and the potholes would go on forever. FEMA finally offered the city billions of dollars to repair all the streets. Sounds good, yes? If this current presidential administration allows the repairs to continue, my neighborhood streets won’t even be started until 2035. Right.

The last straw. After almost four years of construction on our Uptown main cross streets, some of it is coming to an end. Mardi Gras parades actually rolled were they were supposed to go this year.

That’s good. Yeah. For about a minute.

Now the streets around my neighborhood are being closed for the same kind of construction. Aside from the normal inconveniences, that means additional dust, mud, pooled water, traffic.

I give up.

I bet you didn’t think such a happy picture was going to bring up such a miserable topic.

Well.

It’s because I realized that I’m going to miss this stuff. I’m going to miss almost weekly second line parades. I’m going to miss my brother and sister photographers. I’ll miss our brand of music. I’ll miss the food. I’ll miss the chaos. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I’ll miss the ability to say, “I think I’ll go to the Quarter tonight and make a few pictures.” You know, people pay a lot of money to travel here, to stay in a hotel and eat our food. To wander around the French Quarter…

The picture. As usual, it’s pretty much just f 5.6 and be there. Being there is the thing. As National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson once said, “If you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.” After many, many years of photography I have a sense of where to be. Where to stand. How to be. And, most importantly, when to get out-of-the-way.