Working in the kitchen.
Working in the kitchen.

This is my kind of portrait. There are all kinds of portraits. Some are very formal. Some are a little more casual. Some are a little more like photojournalism. There are all sorts of other styles and genres. Then, there are environmental portraits. Those are portraits that shows a person in his environment. Hopefully, they are made in the moment.

This is one of those.

I’d like to call this guy a chef. But, he’s holding french bread. He’s making a po’ boy. Likely, he’s reaching into a pot or skillet for either roast beef or some kind of cooked shrimp. He’s a cook. I’ll bet he’s proud of that. Cooking is hard, hot work. It’s honest work. This is a guy who is earning his living. In a commercial kitchen.

I notice stuff. His kitchen is spotless. He’s well-trained. If I’m a betting guy, I’d say that he was trained at Cafe Reconcile. It is a wonderful restaurant that was created to train young men and women who were considered to be at risk. It’s located in Central City. They learn how to cook, run the back of the house, the front of the house, how to manage an entire restaurant. They go on to good jobs and great careers.

If you ever find yourself looking for a good — no, make the great — lunch, head over to Cafe Reconcile. You won’t be disappointed. This is no advertisement. Just me writing. Rambling around.

Hard at work in The Napoleon House.

Cooking. Working in a commercial kitchen is harder than most people think. It’s hot and fast paced work. Older kitchens are designed something like a dungeon. Of course, The Napoleon House is one of the oldest buildings in The French Quarter so that makes the kitchen — even with modernizations — one of the oldest kitchens in The Quarter. This is one of my “walking and passing by” photographs. But, the cook saw me and gave me a helping hand. He thought my interest in making a picture like this was amusing. So, he opened the kitchen window so I could make something more than a snapshot.

The picture. After he opened the window, the picture was more-or-less frame the picture and be patient. When the moment arrived, I pointed and shot. Blammo.

BBQing the ribs.
BBQing the ribs.
Another happy cook
Happy cooks at The Fat Falafel

So. I promised you that my first post of the day was just a test. It was. What is really cool about that post is that I did everything, except make the picture, on my i-Pad. This is very important since I’m trying to travel even more lighter these days. I reckon if I don’t need a laptop, the will cut my carry on luggage down to very little. I’ll test it next week from the road. Hopefully, it will work as well as I’d like. What would be extra cool is if I could just think pictures and not need a camera. Kidding.

Tonight. There is a big movement in New Orleans to legalize food trucks. Actually, it’s not to make them legal. They are. But, they are restricted. So it’s really an attempt to make the current rules a little less strict so that they can park in certain locations in the city for more than a few minutes. Some of the city council people are actually championing this. That’s all good. If you’ve read Storyteller for any length of time, you know that I really like street food in all forms. In all countries. So, of course, I really like the idea. In order to drum up public support, someone came up with the idea of holding monthly food struck festivals. Many of them are organized in Central City on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. That fits in very nicely with my long form project. I can photograph and I can eat. Pretty good, huh? There were ten food truck tonight. Ribs. Very high-end grilled cheese sandwiches. Burgers. Hot dogs from Dat Dog. Great coffee. Soul food. Falafels. Mexican food. And, so on. Get in line. Order. About ten minutes later you are eating. There’s pretty good music, too. And, plenty of tables on which to enjoy your dinner.

The pictures. Technically, I did pretty much what I always do. Content was important last night. A close friend of mine  suggested that I’ve been framing too tightly and that I wasn’t leaving enough background information in the picture. So, I loosened up. That’s a big switch for me. I like to frame tightly and graphically. The other change was working more with the people whom I photographed. You see the results in each frame. Even though the top image of the man grilling ribs is graphic, we talked enough for him to ask me when he could shut the lid. I worked quickly because I think that he’s trying to feed people and I’m just making pictures. Oddly, chatting with people is easier for me than framing more loosely. For many photographers that’s reversed.