I met this guy on the way to somewhere else. That’s when the best pictures happen.
I was walking to the second line in Central City. I parked a few blocks away. A little distance is important so I could make a quick getaway. That is, if I want to jump to another location. I’m not fast enough anymore to cut through the streets on foot and get ahead of it.
He was sitting on a little stoop in front of a battered old house. He saw the cameras on my shoulder. He called me over. He wanted me to take his picture. So I did. He wanted something in return. I know the drill. I gave him a couple of bucks (that pro tip thing). He stuck the dollar bills in his mouth. I don’t know why. I took another picture.
Which brings me to the picture.
I sort of overlooked it at first. I looked at it again. The color wasn’t working. I converted it to black and white. Then it worked. This might be my best picture of the year. Ten months into the year and I finally made a picture.
They say that eyes are the window the soul. I believe that to be true. I think most portraits should be simple. See into the person. See what they are about. See who they are.
I’ve been using this little girl’s eyes as a design element.
After discussing the eyes with a number of you, I thought it would be a good idea to show the portrait. I cropped they original image to get this tight image. The background information just cluttered the important part of the picture — her eyes.
Then, me being me, I had to tinker with the image until I arrived at this point. My vision was fairly simple. I wanted the final image to look ancient. I wanted it to look beaten up, like it had been buried somewhere. You have to understand that I’m easily influenced. I have been watching a couple of archeology-based shows on various streaming services. The information sort of went into my brain through my eyes. I had to dump it somewhere. So…
This photograph is inspired by Debra at Breathlighter who commented something about my giving artistic credit to a dog. This dog. She’s a cocker spaniel who demands that I take her for walks. So, walk we do. All over the place. Some walks are long. Some are short. Some take just enough time for to “take care of business.”
The picture. She hopped up on the bed — she’s allowed to do that — and I decided to make a few portraits. Since I can’t leave well enough alone, I tinkered with the original file until I made this photograph. I’m actually not so sure about this picture. She looks sort of mean. She’s anything but that. She never met a human that she didn’t like. She likes cats. She likes some dogs.
It reminds me of the fifth Led Zeppelin album. Houses of the Holy. Mostly, it’s the sky. An odd shade of popsicle orange. It is a little weird. Mysterious. Spooky.
Another of my portraits on the scene.
I made it prior to all the events of St. Joseph’s Night, when Mardi Gras Indian tribes roamed the streets of the city hoping to show off their pretty suits.
This little guy isn’t quite dressed for his tribe. One day, if he works at it, he will be.
Just like me, he was interested in what was going on in the cemetery as light began to fall. I asked his dad if I could photograph him. After he said yes, I let his dad direct him… kind of. When I was done, I handed his dad my business card. Maybe one day, he’ll ask for a print or two. Always free to the people who I photograph. Charging them is not how I earn my living. Without them in the picture there would be no picture. It’s a fair deal all around.
The picture. Well, this’ll teach me. I passed it over when I was curating the images to show you the next day. Here we are almost a month later. I was recurating pictures for another collection when I saw this one.
It was a little technically deficient because of the back light and how he was standing. I tinkered with it. Somewhere way back in my brain a bell went off. The color of the sky reminded me of something. Something from 1973. The aforementioned Led Zeppelin album. From back when albums were albums.
That got me thinking that I should listen to it. I haven’t for a long while. So, I did. Man, is it good. It’s a transitional sort of album. Listen to it if you get a moment. It might not be what you are thinking.
Ever so slowly. Because, I’m still recovering from a long and gruelling weekend.
The story so far. I’ve managed to download, backup and curate the images from four events. But, I seem to run out of steam early in the afternoon. So I cherry pick for you. At other times I sleep. I did way too much of that yesterday. I have a couple of big projects that need doing. They are going to need doing for the rest of the week.
Of course, my images must come first. So, today I think it’s this work. Walking the dogs. And, hitting the gym. That may not sound like much. But developing and fine tuning this work is very time-consuming. At least ten hours. Dog walks take about an hour and there are at least two. The gym also takes about an hour. Obviously, I won’t complete the photo work today.
That said, here’s my Super Sunday picture for today. I like it because of the black and white, highlighted by the touches of red. I think this guy is a Wildman. But, he turned away from me so quickly and got lost in the crowd that I couldn’t talk to him. Or, he could be repping something else. He comes very close to being masked as a skull and bones member. That’s sort of a violation of street code. Know who you photograph. Since Storyteller is distributed to Facebook and Twitter, maybe somebody will jump in and tell me. Please.
I’m sort of struggling with next steps. A lot of you here and on Facebook really liked my Sunday art work. I think that’s my direction forward. But, I’m a photojournalist at heart. And, the crosses at sunset seemed to confirm that with a lot of you. What do y’all think?
Trust me. I do listen. Tim suggested that I photograph the funeral first and I did. He helped me gain clarity. Sometimes, you just need to listen to somebody outside of your family.
I have three fairly important shoots to show you. Where do I start? How do I start? I did the easiest thing. I cherry picked for today. I haven’t had time to curate, let alone develop, and finish the images that I made this weekend. I just picked a picture that I like to show you.
Call it a teaser.
This is mostly what you could call a street portrait. But, it’s more. She’s listening to her big chief sing. She was standing on a short stage with Big Chief John and a couple of others. I was working slightly below her. Pictures made at this angle often have a majestic look to them. This one certainly does.
There will be lots more pictures coming this week. I’m pretty sure I’ll run into next week when Easter Sunday images will be current. There are the big French Quarter parades and an Easter second line way, way Uptown.
At least I have a schedule. Of sorts. It’s funny. I’m trying to move towards the more artistic work like I published yesterday. Cultural events seem to be getting in the way. I suppose that’s good. Depending on how you look at it.
Oh. I have yet to experiment with culture and turn it into art. Somehow that seems sacrilegious.
Tightly frame photographs. The thing that I like. These days. For now.
I’m really enjoying poking little holes into reality. I posted one yesterday. The trumpet player reaching for the sky. And, again, today. The lady in red. She’s framed by red feathers on the left. And, by another photographer on the right. He’s a friend. They were having a conversation in mid-second line. To the casual observer it may have looked like they were yelling at each other. They were. But, not in anger. They were yelling at each other in order to be heard over the din of the band, marchers and crowd. The general chaos.
The picture. Hmmmm. This is really an example of photographer’s luck. I saw them standing face to face as the second line slowed down. I pointed my camera at her, thinking that I would either have nothing or I’d have made a pretty good picture. There are about four frames of this. All but this one were out of focus or not sharp. This one is on the borderline. But, as a wise man once told me, “Sometime your best picture is not your sharpest picture.”
Look at the dramatic colors and graphics. Her face pops out of red and black. That’s a pretty powerful statement. And, for me, a pretty good picture.
As I continue to photograph second lines, I keep searching for a way to make a little different picture. A picture that doesn’t look like all the rest that I’ve made. This technique seems to be working… for now. It’s really a gamble. I either make a really good picture, or I come up with zero.
A lot of people seem determined to make it better than 2017, which by all accounts, sucked. Me? I make no promises. I have some things that I’d like to achieve. I’ve written about the ones that affect this blog. There are others. But, I’ll keep those close to my vest. They are not resolutions. Those never work. They are just stuff that I’d like to do.
I promised myself that I would get back on the streets. Hip and back be damned. I did that yesterday. I photographed the Lady & Men Roller Second Line in Central City. It helped that I brought some friends along. Since I wanted to keep my promise to them, I also kept it to myself.
Oddly, my aching and hurting parts stopped aching and hurting. True, I sort of toddled around being very careful where I walked. But, when I returned home I wasn’t in any sort of pain. It’s back today. But, it’s not terrible.
I also picked my pictures as I worked with new glass. A 10-20 mm very wide angle zoom lens. I’ve never tried to photograph a second line with something that wide. It meant that if I wanted to really frame the picture properly, I had to work close. I like that. But, imagine how close I was to her. That mattered. We interacted, which I think is important when I am working the streets. I made about half the pictures I normally would. That’s a great thing.
Oh. Today. Even though it’s not the so-called Arctic Blast that you in the north are getting, as I write this at 10:32 am, the temperature is 27 degrees. Likely, it’ll stay that way today. For us, that is very, very cold.
Hurricane Nate turned slightly to the east. In New Orleans, we had about 35 mph gusts of wind and spitting rain. The storm did hit the Gulf Coast down around Biloxi, but even the damage there was slight. At least, relatively so.
Dodged a bullet? Got lucky? God’s will? A blessing? A quirk of nature?
Call it what you want. We are all very grateful.
By the time that I went to sleep, around 1:30am, I knew that we were safe. Amazingly, we still had power. The only thing left is to undo what we did in preparation. Open the storm shutters. Drain the bath tubs. Eat the Spam.
Seriously. No Spam here. That’s sort of a New Orleans inside joke. We only bought a couple of things in preparation for Hurricane Nate. Water. Soup. Crackers for the soup. Toilet paper.
The picture. While I was waiting and watching Treme on Amazon Prime, I decided to do my kind of prayer. The work. The original image is of an Irish baby, made in an Irish pub, in Ireland. It was made in black and white. On film. Not that long ago. I still shoot some film with a couple of bodies. Then I went to work. Tinkering. Playing. Adjusting. Fidgeting.
The process is better than playing with a fidget spinner. It’s productive. You have something to show for fidgeting. Best of all, I did it on a portable, meaning even if the power failed I wouldn’t lose my work.