A classic dive in the French Quarter. The food is good. Hamburgers are cooked under a hubcap. You probably can’t finish a side order of french fries. And, you’ll never know who or what you’ll see.
Go there late at night and the trannies will perform for you. Especially if they think they can get a rise out of you. I can use that name in this era of no fun, no fools, because that’s what they tell you to use. It’s all good fun. They laugh. You laugh. If you’ve brought an out of town quest, they sit there stunned, until they realize it’s better to join in. And, the pictures? Sheesh. They pose. The waiters pose. The cooks pose.
I tell you. It’s a kind of street theater.
I made this picture on an early Sunday morning walk. That’s why there is condensation on the window. Cold, dry air up against a window that has moist, warm air pressing against it, and guess what happens. The picture was easy. See it. Photograph it. That’s how I work when I’m wandering around.
I haven’t been doing that lately. There are a lot of reasons for that. But, it’s coming to an end. I miss working this way. I miss exploring. Photographing whatever happens in front of me. Whatever comes to me.
We don’t usually eat in the Quarter. Often many of the restaurants are geared to the tourist trade. But, some aren’t.
The cool thing about eating in a touristy place is that often a waiter will engage you. He or she will ask you where you are from. If you answer from here. They’ll ask you a couple of follow-up questions. Like where did you go to high school. Or, they’ll ask other more local flavored questions, just as part of a conversation. You might not know what they are doing. If they are satisfied, you’ll get the locals price. Usually 25% off your bill. You might even have your food cooked with a little more care.
I know, I know.
It doesn’t seem fair. But, that’s New Orleans. We look after each other. The waiters know the food prices are a little higher in the Quarter, so they take care of folks who live here. In appreciation many locals add a tip that is based on the full price. I do. As I said, we take care of each other.
The picture. It is influenced by “Nighthawks at the Diner.” I’m pretty sure you’ve seen it. As I recall, I might have been looking for something like the picture. I found it. I made the picture quickly because the subjects won’t wait. One of the magical things about digital photography is that the sensor loves darks and shadows. I probably couldn’t have made the picture on film without a lot of work in the field.
I used to walk around The French Quarter sort of early in the morning on Sunday. I’ve pretty much stopped that, mostly because I rarely go to the Quarter. No real reason. It’s just one of those things.
On this morning I was walking on Bourbon Street, toward the downriver end. Where things are quieter. I saw this man sitting in the Clover Grill behind all that window condensation. What else could I do? I took his picture.
Even when I do walk around the Quarter, I typically am not looking for the ten best tourist photographs. I’m looking for little moments. Slices of life. I think that this picture qualifies. It’s a tiny moment. For those of you who have been around Storyteller for some time — let’s say six years — you may recognize it from an earlier version. But, since about 80% of all bloggers do not make it past two years… well, you know. It’s new to you.
The picture. I wanted to tinker with it. Beyond cleaning up and making the man a little crisper, there is not much that I could do. So, the original image is pretty much how you see it. It’s not that the picture is perfect. It’s that adding my twists to this image wouldn’t do much. It would be trying too hard.
About those ten best locations. I probably should go reshoot and refresh them. Things do change, no matter how stuck in the past we are in New Orleans. Even if it’s just in tiny increments. Besides, New Orleans is the number on tourist destination in the country.
I was promised a taco truck. On every corner. Where are they?
We live on a corner. That means I should be able to see four taco trucks from my porch. There no taco trucks to be seen. We’ve even looked in all the potholes on the street. Which is to say, just about everywhere. No taco trucks. Which means, no tacos.
I wanna taco.
Most of you who have read Storyteller for any length of time know that this is not a political place. But the silliness of a never-ending election season has brought me to the brink. And, it only gets worse.
The taco truck on every corner thing comes from a Trump conservative Hispanic supporter. He said something like not supporting the wall along the Mexican border would put taco trucks on every corner. Well, I don’t support the wall. Did it work in Berlin?
Yesterday, the Green Party candidate for president, Jill Stein, thought it would be a good idea to spray paint graffiti on the road graders up in North Dakota where Native Americans are protesting oil pipeline construction. I don’t know about you, but where I come from tagging private property is called vandalism or destruction of private property. An arrest warrant has been issued for her.
Then there is the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, who wants to know “what is Aleppo?” Maybe he got it confused with Alpo. But, it ain’t dog food. It’s ground zero for the horrible civil war in Syria.
These kind of low information, amateur wannabes want to lead me? Not on your life.
Maybe somebody could tag a taco truck with, “New! Tacos, served with Aleppo, Beans and Cheese.” That could sort of be like Soylent Green. You’ll have to Google that to understand my reference.
In case you are wondering, I think we’ve done this to ourselves. You know the old cartoon, Pogo? It was written and drawn by Walt Kelly, who said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
I read a lot and contribute a little on Facebook. I’ve come to the conclusion that the extremists on both sides never graduated from high school. One is amazed to find out about Hollywood blacklisting. She recommends watching the “new” movie, “Trumbo,” which was released about 18 months ago. New, indeed. Learning real history from a movie? How quaint.
The same person was stunned to find out that the biggest tank battle ever, was fought in Russia between Soviet and Nazi troops. She wants to know why this has been hidden from Americans. I learned about both of those bits of history in high school. Maybe I had better teachers. Or, maybe I just took an interest in subjects that were being taught. Or, maybe I didn’t drop out.
The list goes on and on and on. One person doesn’t believe voting works. So, on one hand she says “love, love, love” and on the other, she espouses violent revolution and street justice. Yeah. Those go well together.
I could go on. But, you didn’t come here to read a rant. Luckily, I rarely rant. Much. These days. I’ve taken the words of a song to heart. It was written by Elvis Costello. The chorus goes sort of like this, “I used to be disgusted. Now I’m just amused. The angels want to wear my red shoes. ”
Oh yeah. The picture. That’s what you came for. This is an oldie. But a goodie. A few years ago, New Orleans was woefully behind the rest of the country when it came to food trucks. NOLA lags behind nobody when it comes to food. So the truck owners and a couple of city council members got together and held food truck festivals throughout the city. To show how much fun they could be, how good the food is, and, that it was affordable. This picture was made in Central City. The ordinances for mobile food sales were slightly modified and the city caught up to the rest of the country. In case you are wondering, I am a big fan of street food.
So the picture is really just f5.6 and be there. It worked out pretty well, I think.
I try to keep my promises. Life is too short for unkept promises. Sheesh. Maybe life is to short for promises at all. You asked for more Mardi Gras pictures, so I said that I would do sort of a wrap up of Mardi Gras 2014. I decided to give myself a month to do the curating, post production and fine tuning. After all, I do have other work to do. So do you. I also set a deadline. Since Fat Tuesday occurred on March 4, 2014, I thought publishing these pictures on April 4, 2014 was appropriate.
Exactly one month.
I also decided not to use the gallery function that is offered by WordPress because the way that it sizes pictures and sets them up in a grid makes it very hard for other social sites to “see” them. Additionally, it appears that Google has a pretty hard time finding them if all those little pictures aren’t key worded in a way that optimizes each one of them for their search algorithms. So, I went back to full-sized pictures that you can open up to even bigger pictures if one strikes your fancy. And, all the other sites can find them.
One more thing. These few paragraphs are all that I am publishing. This is about pictures and carnival. I’ve written enough — way too much really — so that you have a pretty good idea of what you are seeing.
The pictures. I think you know that I like to work around the edges. I think that most Mardi Gras parades are probably among the most photographed subjects in the world. EVERYBODY has some kind of camera and they use them. Being a person who’s lived photography for almost 40 years I have to wonder why all these people want to live and see their lives through a view finder or little screen. If I didn’t do what I do, I’d just watch the parades and enjoy Mardi Gras without the encumbrance of a camera of any kind. That’s just me. I don’t know what all those people are going to do with all these millions of digital files. Oh sure, they share them on various social media sites. But, those go by in the blink of an eye. Then what? More pictures? More sharing? Blips of data. Too much data. Unless you have a good library system, likely you’ll never find the pictures you took last week. For me, the ultimate use of a picture is on paper. Yes. Paper. Whether the picture is published in a magazine, brochure or whatever matters to me. Hanging a well-printed photograph on the wall matters to me. But, all these bits of data on some hard drive? Eh. That’s just a starting point. Like an old school negative.
The pictures you are about to see are organized in no particular order. They are little moments of time that I captured by intent, by luck or by some other thing. You know. Pictures like these used to be called the decisive moment. I don’t know how decisive these pictures are, but they are unique. Even the one float picture in this little portfolio is about the man and his son or grandson more than the float, itself. I don’t know how good or bad these pictures are. That’s your call. But, I know that nobody else made pictures like these. For me, that is the point.
That’s it for Mardi Gras 2014. I hope you enjoy my work.
One of my readers, Robert, said that he saw this picture on Facebook, but since he’s not a member he couldn’t comment there, so he mentioned it here. Thank you for that. It occurred to me that in my effort not to duplicate pictures, there are probably a lot of images that I post in other places that you don’t see. So, I thought that I would do my best to fix that starting with this fun little picture.
This place is called “Who Dat.” It’s a coffee-house and cafe. The food is very good, but we mostly go there for the coffee and to hang out and maybe catch up on emails and other digital nonsense. Like Facebook replies or some kind of tweet. It’s one of those comfortable, inviting places with a few over stuffed old chairs, funky old wooden walls and a nice laid back vibe. More importantly, the barista greets us by name and knows our order. Sometimes, if he isn’t busy and see us coming down the street our coffee is waiting for us. How cool is that?
The picture? Well. Point and shoot. Frame it well enough so that you can see the man outside practice playing his guitar. That’s it. No real post production to speak of.
One more thing. Check out the Mardi Gras decorations. It’s that time of year.
Sometime. Just when we are trying to get out-of-town and go work some place else for a few days, my email starts burning up. My text bell starts humming. My phone doesn’t ring. Nobody talks on the phone anymore. So. I had a bunch of client requests that had to be filled today. Couldn’t wait until I returned. One potential wanted picture of Melbourne Australia’s lane ways and alley ways. They are a major tour attraction. They also serve the people who work in the business district. For some reason, no other photographer’s seems to be interested in them. I liked them so much that I kept returning to them. I guess there are better places to work in Australia, but I’m an urban guy. I like little alleys and dives and bad cafes. But, what do I know?
The pictures. They were just made by photographing what I see. If there is a recognizable person or two in the picture, I ask them to sign a release. I added a little glow to the second picture. Mostly to hide its deficiencies. At any rate, my client loved these two frames. And, the deed was done. Then I got on an airplane where my government helped us out a lot… by making us two hours late. Where did those air traffic controllers go? Oh yeah. They stayed home. They were furloughed.
I was going to change directions on Storyteller. I was about to publish more unrelated, semi-artistic pictures of something or other. But, then I received and email from Corrie. It said, “Sammy got down on his knee…” It’s the best email I’ve received in days. Weeks. Months. Of course I congratulated them. But, that’s nothing. What to do? What to do? Then I thought, “Hey. Wait a minute. I publish a blog that a few people read. I’ll just publish more Memphis pictures.” And, here they are…
Sammy and Corrie. I couldn’t be happier for you.
The pictures. You guys know me. I just stick cameras in front of things. Locations. People. One more thing. I’m not the most original guy in the world. My headline is Sammy’s. He posted it on Facebook a coupla hours ago. I couldn’t come up with anything better.
The devil is in the details. They say. So. No matter what project I happen to be photographing, I always try very hard to see the details. Sometimes, they really amount to very little. Sometimes, they become an icon for the entire project. Sometimes, if the picture is part of a long story, it adds just the right amount of spice to the stew. These pictures were made in bars, clubs and restaurants all over Beale Street in Memphis. With the exception of the rooster, most of the pictures are pretty much self-explanatory. The rooster is really part of a salt and pepper set. Oh, the light. For some unknown reason the probably has something to do with alcohol, people autograph the light fixtures at The Beale Street Cafe. I dunno.
The pictures. Point and shoot. Mostly with a 16mm f2.8 lens. The rooster was made with an 18-200mm set to about 180mm. That’s it.
I like the boots. Maybe I should buy a pair.
Oh. A little housekeeping. Even though I have some 5,200 pictures that I made in Memphis, it’s time to shift gears a little. So. We go back to New Orleans. We celebrate Mardi Gras.