Urbex deluxe.

U

rbex deluxe.

I wrote that in the picture’s caption and I liked it so well that I made it the lead line. I’m thinking it could be a good name for a band.

Anyway.

My past is coming back to haunt me. I used to photograph a lot of urbex, or urban exploration for the uninitiated. A publisher reached out to me. He wants to know if I was interested in publishing a book.

Interested? Sheesh. WordPress claims 90,000,000 users. Probably, 89,999,000 of us hope to publish a book.

But, I have a problem. I’m already committed to another publisher for two books of a very similar nature.

Hmmm…

For months of the lockdown, most of us were so bored that we gained 894 pounds per every three houses. Now, I have more work than I can do for the remaining year.

Because.

I haven’t told you about a picture agency who reached out to me. They are in a small sort of backroom corner of the picture business. They are hard to find.

They distribute and market the kinds of pre-framed art that you see in big box stores and online. This is where the money lies. Really big money because… well, think of it this way, companies line up to sell products through Wal Mart. Why do think that is?

While companies like Wal Mart set the price structure and keep the margins slim, this company has already negotiated those deals.

They found my work on websites like Art.com. An old agency distributed some of my work into websites like that. The agency doesn’t exist and now I have to ask for payment if they made any sales. This is going to take some inspection.

A new hobby.

Back to the mass distributing agency. This means that I don’t have to chase around trying to make new pictures. They want my archives.

This is a giant retirement fund that exists separate from my own retirement fund. That was the dream of photographers who made pictures for stock agencies. When those agencies were scooped up by bigger agencies and the market collapsed, those dreams died.

Maybe those dreams live again.

I just knew that my archives were worth something.

T

his is an example of urbex photography. This one of the few times that I had partners with me.

They were friends of friends. They were young which made them think that they were bulletproof.

Fine with me.

They had my back while I made pictures. We spent a day doing that.

Normally a day is way too long for me. I kind of reach my limit at about three hours.

But, they were driving so I could relax in between locations.

This bar/club was located at the end of Desire Street. Yeah, this neighborhood was the terminus of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

The city has been cleaning up this little bit of the parish. First, Club Desire was torn down. That broke my heart although after hurricanes and storms there wasn’t too much left inside that could be restored.

A couple of ruined buildings across the street were torn down including the only gas station for a couple of miles.

This bar was located about a block away from Club Desire. I haven’t been there for a while so I have no idea if this building stands or if it met the wrecking crew’s ball.

Anyway, the story is better than the technique. Wait for the people to be about where you want them and press the button.

Expose for the shadows and open up by 1/3 of a stop.

That’s it. No post production required.


Club Desire
Club Desire

Be patient. Take a step back. Look in front. Look toward the sides. Look behind. Watch the light. Get closer, Stand back.

All of this stuff goes through my mind when I approach a scene. It’s automatic. I don’t think I know any experienced working photographer who doesn’t think this way, while completely forgetting he or she does this. It just sort of happens. It’s ingrained. It’s about finding the picture in the middle of a large scene. Sort of like the internet. Lots of noise. Almost no signal. How do you see that thing? That thing that matters. Sometimes, it just means coming back and looking at a place you are starting to finally get to know a little better.

That’s what I did. I kept coming back.

This is the Desire neighborhood. Or part of it. The part above Law Street and below Florida Street. The part that was a little town, by itself. A downtown way downtown.

I don’t know what’s coming back here.  If it ever will. If it should.

Club Desire, which started jumping on Mardi Gras 1948, closed in 1972 with the death of the owner. It hung on a bit for one-off concerts and dances. The owner’s daughter did what she could. Along came Hurricane Katrina. The storm flooded the entire neighborhood with 15 feet of water. Some people came back. To start again. Many did not. Some of the neighborhood has come back. Sort of. A lot has not.

But, here we are. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall at Buras LA, on August 29, 2005. A decade has passed.

This is the business end of the Desire Neighborhood. The spring flowers like it.

Hurricane Season starts on June 1. It’s supposed to be a light one. Maybe no storms getting into the Gulf.

We’ll see.

Wylies Minor Repairs on Cars & Trucks
Wylies Minor Repairs on Cars & Trucks

Growth
Growth


Canal Street. Streetcar.
Canal Street. Streetcar.

Streetcar. Not trolley. Not tram. Streetcar.

That’s what we call them in New Orleans. As in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Yes. There is a street named Desire. There is a neighborhood named Desire. And, once upon a time there was a street car line that ran through the French Quarter, through the Bywater and towards the lake in the 9th Ward. Ain’t der no mo’. Every now and then the tracks reappear when some of the pavement breaks away from what is usually cobblestones underneath it.

This one is a red street car as opposed to a green streetcar. Aside from running on different routes, the red street cars take advantage of new technology. They are air-conditioned. The green ones are not. During our summers that matters. Especially, since New Orleans is not Disneyland. Tourists love riding these streetcars. It’s a great way to see a large part of the city. Streetcars look like they belong in some Disney-like place. That’s also great. But, they are real live public transportation. Commuters use them. To get to work. To make groceries. To get places if they don’t have a car. I use them. I walk two blocks from home, hop on one, get off on Canal Street and walk to the Quarter. No search for parking. No paying for parking. In the heat of summer, air conditioning really matters to people who live here. I suppose that it does to our tourists who can’t imagine living here all year round.

The history of streetcars. Ahh… that’s long and involved. Let me just say this, when I arrived in New Orleans there were no streetcars on Canal Street. At one time maybe eight or ten lines converged on Canal Street. The tracks were all torn up and replaced with buses. Then somebody got the bright idea, “We need a street car line on Canal Street.” Again. So, one was built there at about ten times the cost of the original lines. Not long after, Hurricane Katrina arrived and flooded Canal Street and the car barns and motive power sheds that we just newly completed. So. While the tracks remained, everything else was rebuilt. Again. I think the Feds helped this time. I don’t remember.

This picture. Dusk. One of my usual drive-bys. Or, drive-throughs. I helped it out from a color standpoint. I made it more intense and bluer. That’s how I saw it when I pressed the button. That’s how I made it.