Despite its bad reputation, there is a huge population of people who have lived in Central City, New Orleans, for most of their lives. They, too are worried about the violent crime and what will become of them if Ventral City is actually turned around as many folks are hoping and planning. This is one of those long time residents. Meet Arthur Lee. I met him while I was photographing an abandoned Catholic church. He told me a bit about the neighborhood, what it was like, what it is like today and what it could become.


I never thought that I would say this, but for the month of April I made too many pictures. As I was starting to “curate” — old guys like me call it edit — my April picture a day project, I realized that I made way more images than I needed for the 30 day month. Of course, this came from assignments, commissions and a very few stock productions as well as a few days when I actually made an image specifically for the PAD project.

For those of you who are new to following Storyteller. I started shooting a picture a day four years ago. Every time that I reach a year anniversary I think to myself, “that’s it, I’m done.” A week or so passes and I start getting a bit nervous. Then I start looking for something like a birthday, or beginning of a new month, or anything that I think would be a good starting time and off I go again. I took about a

five-week break between last years PAD project, which ended on my birthday. and this years project which began on New Year Day.

And, so it goes.

For those of you who have read this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m a big fan of street food. I especially like it in Asin countries where food courts are built around existing outdoor vendors. In the same vein, I also like street music. Today, in New Orleans, French Quarter Fest began on a very pleasantly warm and breezy day. Plenty of great music. Plenty of great food. Pick your music. Pick your food. It’s all good.

But, on this first day of the fest, I like walking down Royal Street and listening to the musicians who play for tips. There are some truly great players there who you’ve never heard of, and probably never will. Oh, and I always tip them if I photograph them. A pocket full of dollar bills makes a lot of friends.

Over the next few days, these musicians will be moved off of Royal Street as the smaller stages are added to the musical venues of the overall festival.

But, for today…

I’ve been reviewing portraits. Since my newest portfolio is portrait-based, I have a lot of choices to make. What stays in? What goes out? Which picture is a hero picture? Which images support it? Lot’s of thinking to do. A lot of instinct too. But, it doesn’t stop there. There is a lot of data to study in an effort to further identify my intended market.

What does this all mean? It’s yet another version of the old 80-20 Rule. Usually, in business that means 20% of the people do 80% of the work. But, there are other applications. Many other applications. For instance, in most working photographers cases, it means that you spend 20% of the time doing that you really love — making pictures. The other 80% of time is spent doing other stuff. Accounting. Marketing, Writing blog posts. Meetings. Testing.¬† More Marketing. You get it. Very little in the way of actually making a picture.

So. Over the past few days, I’ve been working on portraits. Not photographing them. Editing them. So I can get more work and make more pictures. It’s a circle. It never ends. For those who have followed me for a little while, forgive me on this one. You probably seen it twice — in color and reworked in black and white. But, the picture is part of the editing process. And, some of the newer folks haven’t seen it yet.

I did the only thing I could do. I joined a parade and marched — not rolled, there are no floats on Royal Street — with the Krewe of Resentments. This gave me the opportunity to work tight and close. How close? This close. I made this picture with a 16mm lens. She seemed to enjoy herself. I did.¬†Actually, I walked with three small krewes. This one. Pete Fountain’s Half Fast Krewe and of Krewe of Saint Anne. They walked through the Marigny and through The French Quarter on Royal Street. Lots of walking.

Just so you know. I have a huge amount of Mardi Gras images. I’ll post a few more before I fully close the books on Mardi Gras 2012. At least on this blog.

Somebody has to make the speciality items that are given to certain people who attend the parades. The Krewe of Zulu makes hand painted coconuts. The Krewe of Muses of makes hand made and highly decorated shoes. They are truly folk art. People collect these these shoes and will go to almost any length to acquire one from each year.

The Muses — this a Muse whose name is Chesley — have been around for 11 years. They are a group of strong and eclectic women who number about 2,000 strong. They come from all walks of life and from all over Orleans Parish.

In this image, Chesley is showing me just how far she goes when she decorates a shoe. She even decorates the inside of the shoe. For her, each shoe is a small piece of art. It takes her weeks to complete about 40 shoes. Each one is thought out and done with a lot of caring.

Technical stuff. I used a little softbox that fits on the front of a Nikon strobe. Even so, it really didn’t open up her eyes, but it did add some highlights to the room.

In case you are interested The Krewe of Muses rolls on February 16. Plan on being there.Image