s I recall, it was hot. A lot of us were sucking down water and sweating it out as fast as we drank it. We were tripping all over each other. I stepped on someone. I turned around to apologize mostly with my eyes because we couldn’t hear anything.
They guy I stepped on held has hands out as if to say it’s all good. Then he pointed at something behind me. I thought that I was going to be run over.
He was pointing at the shadows the brass players made with their instruments. I made as many pictures as I could and then got out of there as they were headed straight toward me. And, they weren’t stopping.
I never saw my new “friend.” I wanted to thank him for the picture. I would have never seen it on my own. I was too busy heading in the wrong direction.
On that day, I was doing that a lot. I’m not sure what it was. It could have been the heat, the sweat, or my timing was off. Usually, I’m pretty instinctual on the streets.
I made my usual crop of good, but standard, pictures. But, this one. It sneaks up on you. I think it was one of my best from that second line year.
I’m sorry that there is no text beyond these few words. I had a pretty well written piece that was complete. It was written, edited, the details were done. When I went to hit the schedule button, the button was light blue, not its normal color. It didn’t and wouldn’t work. Additionally, when I went to the draft file there was nothing saved.
his is another of those “found” pictures. I know where I made it. I have no idea why I did. Now that I see it, I like it.
Maybe , it’s incompetence.
Maybe I’m just as incompetent as the next guy. I’m starting to think that anything good that I’ve ever done was just luck.
Or, it come be two other issues. Maybe I just wasn’t meant for these times. Or, maybe people who make things just don’t think.
It started last night. I wan’t to “get” an app on my Apple smartphone. I found it. I was ready to download. But, first I had to hit this little bitty side tab twice. I tried every which way. I even just held my finger there and moved it up and down.
I gave up. This stuff is supposed to make it easier, not harder.
Then, comes this computer that I’m working on as I write to you. First, it was mud slow. I rebooted it. That sped it up.
That was yesterday. Today, most of the apps wouldn’t open. Reboot again. Finally. Stuff works.
So. You get to look at a photograph.
here is a problem in this picture that I can’t seem to repair.
See that arm?
The color of the entire arm is the lightest brown, Look at the hand and the forearm. This guy must have been working on a car before he went to the second line.
I doubt that he was, but look at him.
I thought I had moved the color closer together in OnOne, But, when the picture arrived here, the darkened color returned.
My only theory is that whenWordpress did it’s final compression the mid tones were removed leaving only the dark tones.
This usually happens in light colors, but as I said on the other side, I wasn’t meant for these times.
Art, in its best form, is supposed to make a connection. It is supposed to make your viewers or readers feel something. A lot of people have been doing that to me.
A friend of mine lost her dog last week. The dog was old and it was time. She wrote such an elegant blog post the it took me three tries to read it without tearing up.
Padma Lakshmi has a new show called, “Taste the Nation.” She picks up where Anthony Bourdain left off. It’s a food show only in that food is the point of understanding. She interviewed her mom while they were cooking together. Her mom is talking about how she came to America. Both mother and daughter are fighting back tears. A vision came to me. I could see my little Polish grandmother cooking and teaching me how to cook. In a railroad flat. In Brooklyn. Whew.
I was reading a column by The Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell. He and I go back aways. We knew each other when we were journalistic pups. He wrote about teamwork and how you get there. The example that sticks most is about The Washington Nationals who won The World Series last year. They were invited to The White House. Some went. Some didn’t.
When it was time to start playing baseball and defend their world championship, they checked their politics, egos, race, spiritual beliefs and everything else at the door. They became a team. His working theory is that we, as Americans, forgot how to do this. We must defeat or control the Coronavirus. Everybody is walking to the beat of some other drummer. In order to win we must check our political beliefs, our racial beliefs, our spiritual beliefs and our anger about everything, at the door.
If we can’t do that, this country may not survive. There. I said it.
I said that I wouldn’t be talking about these outside issues. I would only focus on photography and art.
Outside influences are what propels an artist to make new, and maybe, better art.
I suppose that you can write around a group of pictures to influence their meaning. I’m not doing that. This group of pictures is about one of the few times New Orleans comes together and acts as a team. Second lines and Indian events.
Making the photographs was easy. I made pictures of what I saw. I didn’t do very much to them in post production because this work is kin to photojournalism.
There are a couple of pictures that I’d like to talk about.
In the photograph called “all joy” look at the woman with the giant hoop earring. When I lived in the 7th Ward, she was a little girl who lived a few houses down from me. When we saw each other, we grabbed each other and started hugging and laughing. Caring.
In the photograph called “Paying Respect,” I photographed Black Masking Indians greeting a frail looking man on his porch. He is a retired Indian. He’s about 90 in the picture. The Indians stopped, danced and chanted for him. Respect.
It’s those feelings that I hope you feel when you look at the pictures. Open them up. See the details.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every bowl of gumbo.
That’s what second lines are really about. Of course there is music, paraders, social and benevolent societies, food and drink. The real point is to say hello to friends. Some who you saw just yesterday. Some who you haven’t in seen in a long time.
It’s the hug and smile that makes this picture. Nothing else.
It is my job to work close enough that I can make a fairly powerful picture, and far enough away that I don’t disturb them. The debate about consent rages on. I’m out of it. I have only one question to ask. If I had stopped these two men to ask their consent, would I have caught such a wonderful moment?
That’s my job as a photographer. To make powerful photographs. I’d go so far as to say when I photograph faux nature images that I’m not doing my job.
This was probably the last second line of the season. The weather turns too hot and humid to walk after the first week in July. We resume during the second week of September.
The joyful dancing woman and I had been flirting photographically for the past couple of weeks prior to my making this series.
She knew that I was there to make pictures. I knew that the man in the pink shirt is her husband. She introduced us. At the time, they were a family of four. She’s in her mid-thirties. Doesn’t look it, but she is.
I haven’t seen in them in a while.
If we ever get to come back out, hopefully I’ll see them and their children.
It’s funny about doing this street work. You meet people, say hello to them every Sunday and when second line season ends you go your own way. After a two month break for the hottest time of summer, if you are lucky you see them again.
Photographing second lines is hard work. Working in the middle of one is like being in a rugby scrum. You trot, back peddle, dodge and weave. You walk a long way. If you do it right, you’re tired, dripping in sweat and a little bruised.
That’s my fun.
I stopped some time last year. The pain was too much. If I got loose enough, if I swayed to the music, if I ignored the pain, I could get by. Walking back to my car was an exercise in misery. So, I stopped.
I missed them terribly.
I said that I was done with that project. I said that here, on Storyteller. I was kidding myself. I decided to photograph this season. My pain was relieved. I don’t know whether to be grateful or angry. Even though my hip and back are a thing, they weren’t causing the pain..
It was bursitis. I could have been pain free almost two year ago.
God laughed at my plan.
Along came the virus.
No second lines.
It’s hard to know when they’ll return. They have to be one of the biggest super spreaders.
Zulus. Chefs in their whites. Indians. Voodoo priestesses. Priests and ministers. Political leaders. And all the rest of us.
We walked. We talked to each other. There was a lot of kindness in the crowd. We came to celebrate a humble woman who believed the food could bring us all together. Who was far more than the queen of creole food.
Relax! Let you eyes wonder and quiet your mind with some visual therapy. A picture is always more than you can see. You will also find my own illustrations about things I find funny and interesting. Have some fun, life is short!