No matter where you are.

There’s going to be a lot testing going on.

I’m not exactly sure what I did to myself, but this new format is fairly time-consuming to use. Hopefully, that I’ll change as I get used to working with it. Most of my fears were for nothing. A big one surfaced. It is very hard to stack multiple pictures. There’s a way around it. It took me a while to find it.

My restroom life refers to nothing except that I often make pictures in restrooms of hip cafes. Usually, in coffee houses.

Anyway.

So, that learning thing. I said it was mostly about myself and it is. Learning to use a more photo-centric template is going to teach me a lot. The big take away is learning about my limits of patience. My former “look” was easy to produce. I rarely even thought about it. This one? Wow.

And, speaking about patience, I watched a friend of mine melt down and self destruct in real time on Twitter. I feel terrible for him.

Here’s a short version of the story. He’s a chef. He cooked for a well-known uptown restaurant. He was fired on Sunday night for reasons that are fairly unclear. He proceed to tweet, and tweet, and tweet. 90 tweets in all. At one point, after talking about nobody caring if he was gone and thinking about leaving the planet, somebody called the NOPD out of deep concern for him. They visited him and left, but the tweets continued. He called out his former place of employment, the owner, the restaurant industry in New Orleans. He called out the friend who called the police out of concern for his welfare. It only got worse from there.

Apparently, at one point, his former employer may have threatened him with the classic, “you’ll never work in the town again,” line as he was leaving the restaurant.

This whole thing caught the attention of both local newspapers. Since the restaurant owner does no social media, she had no idea of what was being said. She is concerned for her reputation, which as I know it, is spotty at best. That’s another story for a time when it can be substantiated. After all, this isn’t a fake news site. It’s not really a news site at all. Storyteller is about art. Cooking at his level is an art.

My biggest fear is that with all his tweeting, he made her alleged threat true. He might not be able to work in New Orleans again.

One point that was unintentionally made in The Advocate’s story is that he’s been in town for six years. He’s had six jobs. If I’m hiring for any kind of business that’s a huge red flag. As a high-end human resources person once told me, it takes a year to get into a job and a year to get out. We want to have a lot of good years in between. Certainly, when you are very young and just trying to make your career there is a lot of job jumping as you rise, but my buddy is a veteran chef.

The pictures. I had to use the restroom in a coffee-house. You know. You stay there for a long while, sipping coffee. Some more coffee. Maybe some water.  I walked into the restroom and thought “wow, there is a picture in here. I made a few. I added something to the post production and there you have it.

Details, details, details.

 

 

 

 

 

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Coffee shop work.
Coffee shop work.

At work. In the French Quarter.

I’m not sure this is what most people think of when they say they are working in a coffee shop. Usually, it means using a computer. Maybe using a few books and notebooks. But, that’s about it.

These folks brought their factory with them. They are making little hand-made bits of jewelry to sell on the street or in The French Market. Don’t mistake this for what it isn’t. These people earn a living doing this. There are some long time buskers who work on Royal Street. They have managed to make enough money to buy a house and support themselves pretty well by playing music in the street.

Me? I may have a long-term commissioned project coming up that is about working in the 21st Century. I think. I was on a list of photographers who was asked to apply for it. Apparently, the people running the project were looking for New Orleans-based photographers who have a vision for how small business could be run in the coming years. The project is being photographed nationwide. And, it is very interesting. The work is being done along the lines of the old FSA project that ran from 1935 to 1943. Think about it. How many well-known pictures were generated from that?

Since we have headed into a sharing and gig economy for many artisans, and workers of all stripes, I thought this kind of image might fill the bill. We’ll see. As a friend of mine said a few weeks ago, I could use a project.

The picture. I stopped by this place for a coffee. These people were working and I sort of drifted over. I asked if they minded and they all sort of shrugged their shoulders and smiled. The rest was easy. Find the angle. Wait for the moment. Take the picture.


An old fashioned commercial coffee pot.
An old-fashioned commercial coffee pot.

It just must have been the day. A little weird. It seemed that in every blog, on every photography website and even the couple of paper magazines that I read, the main writer was talking about having to go someplace far away in order to take pictures. Or, being completely unprepared when they saw something that caught their attention.

Huh?

Pictures are everywhere. Sometimes, they are hidden in the details. Sometimes, they are hiding in common everyday sort of items. Like this commercial coffee pot. They are in your house. They are just outside your door. Everywhere.

All you have to do is look. And, see. And, react.

Of course that means carrying some kind of camera with you. Always. Or, at least most of the time. It’s pretty easy these days.You can make some pretty good pictures with the smart phone that never leaves your side.

Because?

The moment happens when it happens. Once it’s gone it’s lost. Maybe you can take a picture of something similar, but the light, the timing — the moment — that caught your eye in the first place is gone. Forever.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s up to you. Not everybody is driven to make pictures all the time. Not everybody wants to think about what they are seeing or the quality of light, or, or, or… But, you don’t have to travel a billion miles to some exotic location to take pictures. You don’t have to go on some kind of picture safari or walk about. Quite frankly, some of those kinds of pictures are so overshot that unless everything is perfect and you get really lucky, they are really boring. I think — “little pictures” — the ones of every day life or every day things are far more interesting. Especially if you put the same effort into them that you do with something exotic.

That’s it…

One more thing. Let that be a reminder to me.

 


Brass band member taking a coffee break at CC's.
Brass band member taking a coffee break at CC’s.

Everybody needs a coffee break. Even me. After photographing for about 17 hours over three days, I’m taking a shooting break to work on pictures. The musician was having a coffee before he hit the streets. I do that too.

Madrid Gras 2015. New Orleans.


Barrista pulling my coffee.
Barista pulling my coffee.

So this is a Mardi Gras picture… and it isn’t. When I work, I like to know the lay of the land. Or, at least where the good coffee houses are located. This place is a little tiny four table hole in the wall, but I really enjoyed it. It is located on St. Charles Avenue right where the parades get started, so it was very convenient for me. After two trips there, this guy knew my drink and had it ready by the time I got to the counter. We talked a bit so he knew that I was working and needed to refuel every so often. The really great thing about all of the coffee shops and coffee houses is 90% of the people going inside to get something to drink are going into bars. You can figure out why for someone like me who just wants coffee. No lines. Or, if there is a line it’s two people long. More importantly, friendly people.

So. This picture. I photograph just about everything. I thought this moment might make a good picture so I just pushed the button a couple of times. He looked up and smiled. When things finally settle down, I’ll make a couple of prints and top them by his shop. Oh. Usually I work for bright, energetic colors. I thought that I would tone things back a bit in this image.


I never thought that I would say this, but for the month of April I made too many pictures. As I was starting to “curate” — old guys like me call it edit — my April picture a day project, I realized that I made way more images than I needed for the 30 day month. Of course, this came from assignments, commissions and a very few stock productions as well as a few days when I actually made an image specifically for the PAD project.

For those of you who are new to following Storyteller. I started shooting a picture a day four years ago. Every time that I reach a year anniversary I think to myself, “that’s it, I’m done.” A week or so passes and I start getting a bit nervous. Then I start looking for something like a birthday, or beginning of a new month, or anything that I think would be a good starting time and off I go again. I took about a

five-week break between last years PAD project, which ended on my birthday. and this years project which began on New Year Day.

And, so it goes.


I’ve been photographing people for most of my career. A quick look at my history will tell you that some of my earliest work was published in the newspapers for whom I worked. Most of the images published in a newspaper are about people. It doesn’t matter what section of the newspaper that you find pictures — news, features, entertainment, sports and so on — they are about people. There are very few nature, wildlife, scenic or even cityscapes found on those pages. Not that there is anything wrong with those categories of pictures. I photograph a lot of those subjects myself. But, that’s where I first learned to make the kinds of portraits that I do today. My portraits are typically not posed, little momentsand slices

of life. But, they aren’t made on the sly. Even if we aren’t collaborating, the people whom I photograph know that I’m making their picture. The little selection of portraits that I am showing you were made all over the world. Hong Kong, Thailand, South Africa, Texas, Hawaii and New Orleans. The represent a broad cross-section of my career.