Sometimes just leaving Orleans Parish is like going on a road trip, not that I drove very far, maybe 12 miles. But, it’s another world.
I had to buy some electronics and a paint bucket. Best Buy is the best place for digital gear. I was grumbling while I drove. I had to buy a charger for my new iPhone 12. Who sells a phone without a charger?
Apple, that’s who.
Even the folks at Best Buy laugh about it. Of course the store makes money, but the people who work there think that Apple is just greedy. And, their charger costs twice what other legit makers charge.
Oh, they do give you the charging cable.
I actually like going to that big shopping center except for it’s organization. It was built in stages by different developers. To go from Best Buy to Home Depot required me to drive through two parking lots and work my through two stoplights.
But, I was able to stop by a cool little restaurant that we used to eat at when we first returned from New Mexico. Entering it is like stepping back in time.
I took a look around and asked the guy behind the counter if I could take a few pictures. He shrugged his shoulders, so I did.
This picture makes me think of trips through tiny little midwestern towns. It sort of excited me when I looked the finished product.
Stopping and eating here was a big deal for me. It was my first time actually eating inside a restaurant since the start of the pandemic. It’s true that we have eaten at two restaurants previously, but we were outside and about 6 miles from the next table.
Let me tell you, it felt really good. Better yet, the food tasted really good.
Now that’s something to feel a large measure of gratitude for being able to do.
Now you know why I’m late with this post. I ate lunch. Sorry about that.
No. I’m not.
There is nothing to this photograph other than that I like the subject matter.
There is little to no work done in post production. Mostly, I brightened and sharpened it a bit.
Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Enjoy a restaurant or two. They need us.
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.
The tourists haven’t awakened yet. The only folks out are locals. Either they are getting ready for church. Or, they are getting ready to work. Or, they are just coming come from a long overnight shift somewhere in the Quarter.
Before they go where ever they are going, they stop for breakfast. At the Clover Grill. They can eat heartily. They can eat 24 hours a day. And, they can eat in a place that has been around for a long, long time. It’s one of those places where everybody knows your name. And, you’ll never know what will happen. I’ll leave it at that. If you ever go there I want you to be surprised.
Oh. You want to know where it is? Lower Bourbon Street. At Dumaine. On the corner. You can’t miss it.
The picture. One from the archives. When I first returned to New Orleans I used to go walking in the French Quarter on Sunday morning. The light was wonderful. There weren’t many people on the street. It wasn’t too hot, but I did have to deal with the early morning goopiness. Eventually, I stopped doing that in favor of photographing second lines. Because of the decline of the number of second lines, I may resume walking the Quarter on Sunday morning. We’ll see.
It just must have been the day. A little weird. It seemed that in every blog, on every photography website and even the couple of paper magazines that I read, the main writer was talking about having to go someplace far away in order to take pictures. Or, being completely unprepared when they saw something that caught their attention.
Pictures are everywhere. Sometimes, they are hidden in the details. Sometimes, they are hiding in common everyday sort of items. Like this commercial coffee pot. They are in your house. They are just outside your door. Everywhere.
All you have to do is look. And, see. And, react.
Of course that means carrying some kind of camera with you. Always. Or, at least most of the time. It’s pretty easy these days.You can make some pretty good pictures with the smart phone that never leaves your side.
The moment happens when it happens. Once it’s gone it’s lost. Maybe you can take a picture of something similar, but the light, the timing — the moment — that caught your eye in the first place is gone. Forever.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s up to you. Not everybody is driven to make pictures all the time. Not everybody wants to think about what they are seeing or the quality of light, or, or, or… But, you don’t have to travel a billion miles to some exotic location to take pictures. You don’t have to go on some kind of picture safari or walk about. Quite frankly, some of those kinds of pictures are so overshot that unless everything is perfect and you get really lucky, they are really boring. I think — “little pictures” — the ones of every day life or every day things are far more interesting. Especially if you put the same effort into them that you do with something exotic.
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.
Remember the yellow picture? It’s posted on my Laskowitzpictures page on Facebook. A lot of readers have commented on it. Well. Many people think New Orleans really doesn’t change all that much. They think we are steeped in tradition. In many ways we are. And, we probably would have remained remain that way. But, Hurricane Katrina changed things. A lot of things. Many people left. New people arrived. People started businesses. Some failed. Some prospered. Even though The Joint opened a few years before the storm, it became very successful after the storm. It grew so big that the owners found a much bigger building and moved. It is still located in The Bywater, which is also experiencing huge changes and growth. It’s those hipsters again.
Anyway. The bright yellow wall was painted bright blue. The funky, painted garden chairs became red and black kitchen chairs.
Everything changes. Even the little things. Even in New Orleans.
Yesterday, I showed you Vaughn’s. You go there to listen to music, usually at night. Or, to watch Saints games on Sunday afternoons. But where do you eat breakfast in The Bywater? Today, there are all sorts of small restaurants and cafes in the area. A bunch of hipsters saw to that. But, in the not so distant past there really was only one place to go. Elizabeth’s. It was legendary. People from all over the city journeyed to the area just for brunch or breakfast. Unfortunately, all things pass. Elizabeth sold her labor of love. The new owners food is not quite up to past standards. However, it is still very good. Elizabeth had a secret ingredient. Her.
Elizabeth’s is nestled right up against the levee, train tracks and the river. The big river. The Mississippi River. The building is another one of those old New Orleans buildings that is rich, warm and little funky. The signs that cover the outer walls were painted by Dr. Bob, a well know local folk artist. His compound and massive studio is a block or so away. Bob fits into the neighborhood. He’s one of those characters. We’ve been trying to find a way to work together for years. We just can’t seem to get it together.
The picture. More luck. It was actually a dreary all day long. Then the lower clouds parted a bit and the sun emerged slightly. From underneath the clouds. That’s why you see the building illuminated in the way that it is. I saw the light start to emerge and started searching for something — anything — to use as a subject. Fortunately, I was right across the street from the restaurant. Light like that can last only a matter of minutes. Or seconds. You can’t waste time thinking that you’ll come back to it later. There is no later. You have to move. Fast.