Crossisngs.

All you need to know is in the headline. I had an interesting day. It occurred to me just how common the threads that bind us together really are.

We all seem to forget that.

There has been an ongoing and emotional discussion in one of the photographers groups to which I belong. In many ways it was annoying. The group’s founder was trying to understand why a certain genre mattered. I’ll leave out exactly what for obvious reasons.

Once it got going it really got going. There were some 400 comments before they were shut down because one of the moderators had to leave so she could prepare for four classes that she was reaching.

I’d like to say that the usual suspects squared off, but that wouldn’t be accurate. The usual extremists did battle, but the rest of us just talked.

It eventually evolved into old white men being blamed for holding back the marginal photographers. That’s where I left the discussion before I said something that would come back to bite me in the butt.

I’m an old white guy. I worked very hard to get where I am. In two years I will hit the 50 year mark as a working photographer. It wasn’t easy. When it should have gotten easier it got harder through no fault of anybody unless a virus is a person.

The loudest person is a woman who is beyond a feminist. I’m a feminist. I don’t really know what she is, but when I get ready to engage somebody like her I have a look at who she is in real life.

She’s young. She takes pictures. By now you know the difference between taking and making pictures. If you are unclear still, she isn’t very good in any genre. She wants to be championed because she is on the margins.

Screw that. Work hard. Get good. And, everyone will champion you. A while back photographers like her declared themselves to be the founding women of photography.

This didn’t sit well with one of the best photojournalists working today. A woman. She started asking all of us, her colleagues, to name women with whom we’ve worked that were older than the current crop.

I’ve managed a couple of photo departments. I’ve managed regional photographers of the year. I’ve managed two Pulitzer Prize winners. All of them women.

Sheesh. One of the Pulitzer winners covered the downfall of the Soviet Union for The Associated Press. She’s Russian and speaks the language. I’m pretty sure that she managed me while working for me. That was a good thing.

I tossed their names in the ring. Pretty soon there were over 600 women photojournalists who came well before the current crop.

If you disagree with the way pictures are made within a certain genre of photography, that’s fine. Speak loud and clear. But, for God’s sake don’t complain about being on the outside as part of that discussion.

That’s a different discussion.

That’s a discussion that people like me can offer you some tough love. If you don’t fight it, maybe you’ll get good. Or, at least, you’ll understand the hard work and effort that it takes to get good.

Sometimes contrasts are a good thing. Sometimes they aren’t.

Apparently, I’m having real problems with yellows. Or, rather, my phone’s sensor is having problems.

This time I set it to make an HDR picture. That should have settled down the contrast issues.

I didn’t.

I did the best that I could to tone things down. This is where I managed to finish.

This group of flowers are interesting. They bloom at the wrong time of year. They die at the wrong time of year.

Maybe it’s just me.

Maybe I’m seeing things at the wrong time of year.

Who knows?

I should just leave this behind, but I want to talk about the right hand column.

Ansel Adams once said that your first 10,000 pictures are your worst ones. He also said that if he made ten good pictures in a year he had a great year.

To me, it seems that the loudest complainers are the ones that don’t want to put the work in. Making 10,000 pictures takes a long time if what you really want to photograph 10,000 subjects.

Time?

That takes too much time. Often, they want it now.

Ten great pictures in a year? Huh? Maybe ten great pictures in an hour is what they want.

I dunno. Remember, I’m an old white guy. I’m the one who is supposed to be privledged.

Of course I am. That’s historically, not photographically.

Think about that.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy every day because there are no useless days.


Reflections.
Reflections.

Big smiles and bigger dreams.
Big smiles and bigger dreams.

Taking a break before the 8 mile walk.
Taking a break before the 8 mile walk.

Documenting the scene.
Documenting the scene.

Rat-tat-tat.
Rat-tat-tat.

Oh mister...
Oh mister…

Eight miles? I'd better stretch it out.
Eight miles? I’d better stretch it out.

The long walk begins.
The long walk begins.

Mardi Gras parades and brass bands just seem to fit together. Usually, there is an order to a parade. There are a group of power company trucks (just in case), a few police cars, some kind of noisy motorcade, the trooping of the flag, a brass band and a float. The bands and floats alternate. I usually like the bands more than the floats. But, the crowd likes the floats because that’s where the throws and beads come from. I also like to arrive at least two hours early. Sometimes, even earlier. There a couple of reasons for this. First, there is the parking. The earlier you arrive, the better the parking situation will be. Given that I usually walk back and forth between St. Charles Avenue and as far towards as Tchopitoulas as many as maybe ten times, I might walk between 8 and 12 miles while I’m working. I want to park as closely as possible to the parades so I don’t have another mile hike after I’m done.

That’s nothing.

These brass marching bands walk the length of the parade. The distance could be as little as seven miles or as far as 12 miles. Many of these bands might do that twice a day as Fat Tuesday approaches. Most bands do this at least every day.

But, that’s not the only reason to arrive early. It’s not the best reason. The best reason for me is so that I can photograph the bands, the krewes and the support people preparing for the parade. Photographing multiple parades on multiple days can get a little mind deadening. In other words, as much fun as they are, they start looking about the same unless you have friends in the particular parade. But, finding friends in the chaos of a Mardi Gras parade can be next to impossible. For me; it’s the people getting ready, stretching, getting their head in the game, practicing, even competing against other bands in a friendly way that make the pictures. It’s about the kids who are getting ready for their big day, or days. It’s the smiles and the nods of recognition and the poses the kids strike when they see a camera. Making the best pictures that I can is my way of honoring all the work the schools, musicians, cheerleading squads, dancing teams, baton twirlers, teachers and staff put into their passion.

I wander around the neutral ground and the side of the street where the parade won’t pass and look, and look, and look. I talk to people. I let them see what I’m about and I make the best pictures that I can. I try to win them over with a smile, and if I haven’t talked to them for any length of time, I approach them with one of two simple phrases. I hold the camera up and ask, “May I?” or “Do you mind?” I haven’t been turned down yet. I may have just jinxed myself, but I don’t think so. It’s Mardi Gras. We are all pretty happy.

Yes. Yes. Yes. It’s pretty hard work walking as much as I do. It isn’t fun dodging people who are after one thing — beads. It’s hard working in the rain. Or, walking in the heat. Or, the cold. But, you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 


Once upon a time I used to shoot a lot of sports. I did it first as a photojournalist and later in more commercial markets. Thinking back, the last bit of sports that I photographed was participatory — exercise that everyone can do — in a gym in New Orleans. Then, the storm came and I left the area. I haven’t made a sports picture of any kind in at least six years. And yet, here I go again. The owner of the gym that I use is an old friend. The last sports I photographed was for his website. Or rather, Premier Health Club’s website. Well, he asked me to do something again. This time, we are talking about focusing on details or people exercising. Or not. We are in the very earliest stages of discussions. It will be website work again. Makes it easy. Lot’s of small files.

Anyway…

Here are few images from an even earlier campaign. In those days, the images were very bright and full of contrast. I’ve toned them down a bit to match today’s color pallets. Yes. These images were made using film and scanned on an old, but very good Kodak commercial scanner to digitize them. These pictures always had to work together to create sort of a portrait of the athlete. Alone, the never quite tell the story. Story matters.