I saw this little scene. Bathed in golden light. Morning light. There was little I could do. I photographed it for you. For me. I worked on it some. Not that much. Here it is.
Louisiana. In late spring.
You’ve heard this from me in the past. Things seem to be spinning out of control Around here it got worse.
There were two newspapers in town. The Advocate. The Times-Picayune. The Advocate, which started life in Baton Rouge, bought its competition. In thirty days the papers will be blended. In sixty days, the staff of the T-P will be terminated. A lot of my friends will lose their jobs.
I haven’t worked for a newspaper in years. Thirty years to be exact. But, I meet a lot of reporters and photographers on the street. The things that I normally photograph draw a lot of media coverage. I’m sad for these folks. Some are young. They’ll recover. Maybe not in print journalism. But, some other kind of online reporting. Or, they’ll join the wonderful world of freelance.
This picture is a kind of peaceful image. One that gives anybody who sees it a little respite from the overall craziness and polarization of 2019.
Not this picture. This is near home in New Orleans.
I was watching the last season of Anthony Bourdain. The show made me nostalgic. It made me a little sad. Not for Tony. We know his end.
It made me miss some of the things that I had. That I did. I thought about living there. I liked it. A lot. Maybe more than I like living in New Orleans.
I think, even after my paid expat time was up, I should have stayed. Yes. It’s expensive. Yes. It’s crowded. For certain I was in the minority. But, there’s a lot to be said for that. It changes your thinking. Your viewpoint changes. You learn a lot. About people who are different from you. About yourself.
If my word for the year is learning, the Lunar New Year brings us to the Year of the Pig. I’m not exactly sure who those two intersect, but it’s worth a thought. Or, two.
Bourdain met up with a cinematographer who worked a lot with Wong Kar-wei. He made those dreamy introspective scenes. He led Bourdain on a merry chase throughout the city. To places I loved and frequented. Some of it changed. Hong Kong never stands still. Others have not. They didn’t hit all of my spots. But, they hit enough.
I haven’t been to Hong Kong in 11 years. I’ve grown older. Slower. A little broken. I’m not even sure if I could walk many of the city’s streets. I could try. I could take breaks. I would probably see more. You know. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
I should go. This year. Before it slips my mind.
When is a very obvious question. Between my two lives, I’m booked until at least September. That could work. The weather there is about like it is here. The temperatures would start dropping. It would be cool, but not cold. We’ll see.
See what’s happening here? It’s like a journey through the past. Only it’s headed toward the future. There are a lot of places I’d like to visit. Before I can’t.
Oh yeah. The picture. The dog who sees stuff was groomed. She got a haircut. The groomer shaved her down to her body. She needed it. Between rain, and falling leaves and the wetness on the ground, she was matted. Sure, I brushed her. I combed her. But, when her fur is long, she picks up everything. Funny thing about her fur is that it weighs a lot. She started out her day weighing 24.5 pounds. Just under the maximum cocker weight of 25 pounds. Off came her fur. We weighed her again. Twenty three pounds. That’s a helluva diet. She lost 1.5 pounds in three hours.
This is the long way of saying that she was in a great mood. She was ripping around on our walk until she lead me to this. She stopped. I photographed. I made two good pictures. Off we went. There’s really not much to this picture. Winter silhouetted trees and a sunset. What could be easier?
They say that anything worth doing is worth working hard to achieve. Sometimes. Other times, the best thing is the easiest thing. It just sort of flows. As I wrote yesterday, I am just the conduit.
Something a little different. For me. More along the lines of what I actually do for money.
But, this time it was luck. I went to visit with a friend, parked the car, let the dog walk over me to jump out, looked up and saw this scene.
I made a lot of frames of the action. I worked it in the way that I normally would if there was cash on the barrelhead. Funny thing. Once I slipped into that mode, time flew, I was focused (no pun intended), and I could see. Really see.
Then. As quickly as I slipped into that mode, I was done. I slipped out of the mode. When I returned to the studio, I didn’t look at the pictures until I finally couldn’t stand not looking at them.
I found “the picture.” I worked on it. I worked on a couple of versions of it. The way that I usually do. Until I was finished. That’s what you are seeing here.
All the external noise? I stopped listening to it yesterday.
Except for baseball, which really matters to me. The teams are on a short break following the All Star game. But, their management is working. Trading players. Healing players. Getting ready for he second half of the season when the good teams are making a playoff run. And, the bad teams are wondering just what the hell happened? They’ll be trading and hoping for a better year in 2019.
I was raised in it. I went to baseball games when I was in my mom’s womb. Because the season is so long — March until maybe November — it feels a lot like life itself. There are successes and failures. Ups and downs. Good luck and bad. There is no time limit like most sports with quarters and halves during the game.
Think about it. If you’ve stopped listening to the news, how are you filling your time? Reading books? Watching daytime television? Watching movies or videos on Netflix or Amazon Prime? Actively listening to music? Listen to podcasts?
Sometimes, the light sparkles. After the rain. Even in summer.
Sometimes, I see it.
I saw it yesterday morning. We had a small cold front move in. Rain fell in the evening. By morning the water evaporated, leaving the air kind of cool and very bright. I looked up and wowie zowie.
I learned something about iPhone produced pictures. They look fine on the phone. But, when I open them on my iPad Pro the screen resolution is so sharp that images look very soft, almost out of focus. Now, I’m wondering…
Anyway, I’m pretty sure that I’ll revert back to a “real”camera, even on dog walks.
As far as things political go, unless orange man doesn’t make a move, I’ll be quiet. I’ll probably be talking a lot.
Into the sky we go. On a jet. On an airplane. Going somewhere. On business. For pleasure. Maybe going home. Some of us white knuckling the take off. Some of us not caring. Some of us drunk enough to board the plane.
I posted a very heavily reworked picture of another plane taking off a few days ago. Some people saw it for what it was. Foreboding.
I decided to tune this one back a bit. This may be about hope. The plane is flying out of the darkness into the light. It’s flying out of the clouds into clear skies.
We found a little hope a few days ago. In New York. In Queens. And, the Bronx. With a young woman. A woman from the Bronx. Alexandria Ocasio – Cortez. She surprised everybody. She went from tending bar to defeating incumbent Joseph Crowley. He was the heir apparent to Nancy Pelosi. She’s 28 years old. Her’s is a Democratic district, so it’s very likely she’ll be the youngest person in the House and in Congress. She is a Democratic Socialist. That might not mean what you think. Read what she has to say on her website at http://ocasio2018.com
As a way of contributing, we bought a lot of her t-shirts. For sure, this is a political contribution. In order to fulfill Federal legal statutes be prepared to reveal a few things about yourself. Your occupation and your company. No big deal. The Feds already know. Yeah. I know we live a thousand miles away. In my mind, her campaign is a national one.
Let’s face it. We spoke about change in 2016. We got Clinton v Trump. How exactly was she changing anything? Trump? You know the rest. Current Democratic presidential hopefuls are Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. How old are they? How is electing either of them change? I like Biden. I have mixed feelings about Sanders. They have both served the country for a long time. Time to step aside.
Meanwhile on the Republican side of things, Mitt Romney has resurfaced. He’s 71. He’s moderated himself from “Anyone But Trump,” to a Trump supporter. Oh yeah, Trump is 72.
In theory, I’m one of them. An old white guy. But, I see the future very differently. I don’t want to preserve the country’s whiteness. After all, we haven’t done such a good job. I see the country as being white-black-brown-yellow-red. Mixed up. Blended and apart. I support Ms. Ocasio-Cortez because I think she is exactly what we need. Now and in the future.
Oh. I know. I haven’t mentioned communities like LGBT. I’ll get to them all soon. For now, just know that I support them. And, that I support every legal protection for their rights. Even the other day when I had the baker discussion. I don’t believe their rights should be hurt. Nor, do I believe the baker’s beliefs should be hurt. It’s very confusing. I know. Most of the important stuff usually is.
When I do. I either turn around and make a picture of where that glorious golden fell and illuminated something, or I make the foreground dominant. To me, a sunset picture without that is just a postcard. That’s why I photograph power poles. They aren’t pretty but they give the scene some kind of subject. That happens when I’m out-of-place.
On St. Joseph’s Night I was very lucky. I parked my car near the cemetery as I usually do when I work on that side of Central City. I got out of my car and this scene was staring at me. All those crosses. Even the telephone pole seems to fit right in. This is a prime example of photographer’s luck.
I learned something that night. I’ve been calling the side-by-side cemeteries Lafayette No. 2.
I saw a brass sign. It is located in a place where you might not look. Those two cemeteries are St. Joseph No. 1 and 2. I’ve been calling them by their wrong names for years. So does the city. So does Google maps. So do the people who live there. It just goes to show you what nobody knows anything. Much.
The picture. I actually made it through a chain link fence. It stuck the lens through one of the links and took the picture. The rest was easy. It almost needed no post production work.
That’s the season. Spring. I know it’s not spring according to the calendar, but in the south spring starts a little earlier. Our spring. Meanwhile in the eastern part of the country, y’all were hit by a northeaster. Apparently, there is no way in and out of New York City unless you use private transportation.
Down here in the swamp, we are in the middle of some perfect weather. Temperatures around 70 degrees. Low humidity. Blue skies.
Not so swampy.
This picture. Not layered. Not compiled. Not stacked. Just one picture. Also, I didn’t use multiple editing programs. Just Snapseed. On my iPhone.
I try to keep things simple. I am, at the heart of me, a photojournalist. I am experimenting. Sometimes I use what I’ve learned here on Storyteller, in my other work. My paying work. But, I’m not a heavy Photoshop guy.
While all art is autobiographical, the viewer makes about 80% of the image’s meaning from his or her life history. In other words, you see what you want to see. And, that’s okay.
February, despite being a short month, was packed with stuff. Mardi Gras. Second Lines. A jazz funeral. And, of course, the horrible tragedy at Stoneman-Davis in Parkland, Florida. 17 people were murdered, most of them children.
This will stick with us for a long, long time.
After watching the survivors take control, I have a little hope. Young people helped change the world in the 1960s and 1970s. If you trace our history back far enough, you’ll find that many of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, were somewhere between 18 and 22 years old.
Think about it.
For the first day of a new month, I chose to do a little painting. Well, digital painting. It’s a funny thing. Even though I keep telling you that this is a new style of work, a quick scroll of my Google Archives reveals that I’ve been doing this for about eight years in one form or another. In many way, I should be a lot further along in this journey. Documenting things like New Orleans culture seems to creep back in to my days.
I was talking to a colleague of mine, who said that as we move into our sixties and — hopefully beyond — that it might be time to give up the street. Time to move into other phases of our art. Of our craft. Of our business. I suspect that he’s right. For the most part I’ve given up photographing second lines and staying out for hours on Mardi Gras Day. I attributed that to some health issues. But, I’ve worked through most of those. I actually feel pretty good. Today.
That said, I still can’t seem to return to the street. I dip my toes in it. I make a few pretty good pictures. And, think to myself, “so what?” Yes. I know that the costumes and suits change yearly. But, to my photographic eye, the pictures look the same. They repeat themselves. They look dated even when they are brand new.
I’m in the middle of two experiments to help clarify that.
I’m going to photograph Sunday’s second line. Yeah. I know. I know. But, it’s a children and ladies parade. It’s Uptown. I want to see if I can work it in some different way.
Check out Friday’s Instagram post. Mostly I post in black and white. Friday’s image is monochrome and it’s of an Indian. It’s a very different way of doing that kind of post production process. Maybe the trick is to make pictures knowing that the image file is just the very beginning of a much longer process. That even if it looks good in color, there is a different final image.
In either case, you may not see the results. Or, maybe you will. It all depends.
I made this picture. It’s another image created almost from whole cloth. I made a kind of Mardi Gras picture as well. I thought that might be more appropriate since Mardi Gras parade season starts tonight. Then, I thought, I like this picture. I’ll probably drown you in Mardi Gras pictures for the next couple of weeks.
Moody, scary and maybe evil is what you get. Today.
Assuming that I actually make some good pictures tonight, in the rain, at the adult parade called Krewe du Vieux, you’ll see Mardi Gras pictures tomorrow. Yes. In the rain. For all I know, this could be one of those Mardi Gras. Wet. Cold. Kind of miserable.
For the stories you can tell. It’s like a badge of honor. It’s like this. I can say later that I worked in wet conditions, I got soaked, my cameras got wet but I didn’t drown and they didn’t explode. And, all that wet pavement should add a lot of sparkle and color to the images.
This picture. I don’t usually title my work. But… this could be called something like, “When Buildings Fly.” I’ll leave you to work that out. It’s like a scene from a bad tornado chasing movie.
I made the base picture because sunlight was reflecting off of the “flying” building. I did all the rest in post production. This work is a lot of fun to do. I just wish that I knew how to market it. I’ve produced four series over the past nine months or so. Those layered scenes. What the dog saw. And, my version of nature. As well as this new collection which is just beginning.
Everybody seems to like them. All of them. That’s how I ended up with a new gallery showing in the next month. Everybody, and all, are very big words. When a travel writer says this is the “best” restaurant, store, shop or whatever in a city, my response is “so you’ve been to every one of them?”
In this case, it really is everybody and all. Whenever I show this work people take their time looking at it and “oh and ah. ” They don’t just electronically thumb through each picture. They study them as if to ask, “just what the hell kind of photography is that?”
I hate to be crass, but I’d sort of like to make some money from these collections. That’s how anybody moving from commercial work to art keeps going. No. We aren’t broke or anything like that. I still do corporate and advertising work along with working the other side of me. But, I’d like this new work to pay for itself. Unless I find a gallery who takes the lion’s share of the sales profits, I pay for everything. Printing, matting, glazing and framing. That ain’t cheap. Since most work doesn’t sell right off the wall, it’s usually a sunk cost.
I am excited about new work. And, my final decision about photographing Mardi Gras. I’m doing it. After all, if I don’t do it this year, I’ll be another year older when I start again.