If it’s Sunday there is a second line being walked somewhere in New Orleans.This one was Good Fellas. The King of Kings division was walking for cancer awareness. Even though they didn’t say it, I’m pretty sure that they lost a member to cancer.
I know. I said that I was dropping out of the second line business. I said it was not for any reason other than time allotment. That’s true. I forgot that it is my time. I can use it any way that I like. More importantly, as a friend of mine says, it is like going to church. Miracles do occur out on the street. My hip and back stop hurting. I move freely. I dance to the music. I can keep up with the parades, which are usually moving pretty fast. I have no idea why. But, it happens every time.
So why shouldn’t I go out?
They didn’t exactly trust me.
I’m not going to stretch this out. Maybe two days. This one, featuring the children waiting. And tomorrow, a few scenes from the reason I came out. The second line.
It’s back to archive pictures, with a break for Halloween and probably another break for another second line. For once, Storyteller is starting to take shape and form. That’s intentional.
The pictures. I walked into a beauty salon where the King of Kings was preparing to walk. I asked one the leaders if she minded. She just wanted a business card. I decided to focus on the little ones. The children. The toddlers. Their eyes were focused on me. That was great. I knew, while I was making pictures, what on first post would be. That is rare. I didn’t even make very many pictures, once I knew my intention. I worked slowly because slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
I made the portrait before I returned to New Orleans. I was back for a visit when I ran into this guy on the street in The French Quarter. He’s an old friend. We had a coffee and went our own ways. I thought, at the time, that it was very cool and I could have my old friends back if I just returned. So, I did.
It didn’t quite work out that way. Many old friends were leaving. Even the man in the picture. He moved to Breaux Bridge. A place that’s become home to all sorts of musicians. Famous ones. regional players. Local players. This guy has a pretty good statewide reputation as a fiddle and accordion player. He is also a pretty good Cajun singer.
That’s his story. And, the base portrait is his picture. He’s used to being photographed so taking a picture of him in a coffee shop is no big deal. Actually, if you’re around me for any length of time, you get used to being photographed.
The picture. You know about the portrait. The rest is my usual odd bits and pieces of information. I did do a lot of work in OnOne. The picture as it emerged from Snapseed was just too raw and kind of glaring. So, I needed to finish it and help the color to settle down some.
Sometimes, I’ll show you a portrait that is just a portrait.
This is one of those times.
Yes. Of course, I reworked it in my current new style of art. I’m not sure how much longer that will last. I made a bunch of pictures a day or so ago that are a little more “normal” in style. And, are my more general style of photographing people on site. In a little bit I won’t be in the position to work in that way. Again. I may stay in my archives out of sheer necessity.
This picture. The base picture is over 40 years old. It was made on Tri-x. Black and white film. By filtering it, I could add color that wasn’t there. Not in the negative. Not in the print.
The subject is a long-lost friend of mine. By combining her first name and her last name’s first initial we called her “soupy.” That was in college. Way back. Back. Back.
The rest of the picture is layered. And, mixed. And blended. I’ve come to learn that it is best to do manipulate each individual layer. Blend them and do the work again. It gives the final image a look of depth. This picture has four layers. The work took some time. Especially when I went too far. And, had to backtrack. That’ll happen. I always say that you should just keeping going until you go too far. Of course, as I get older I’m pretty sure I rarely go far enough.
Sometimes, it’s better to look along the edges of the event. Things get more interesting there. So do the pictures.
I’ve long said that for those of us who work second lines on a regular basis that our pictures look about the same. Oh sure, there are lens selection differences. There are post production differences and choices. But, the content — which is king — looks very similar.
I’ve been listening to two pieces of advice. One in the form of a quote. The other in a conversation with a sort of mentor.
The quote is musician Neil Young’s. He said it right after he had a couple of big hit albums in the 1970s. His work was becoming too middle of the road for him. His record label, promoters and publicists wanted more. The same kind of work, only slightly different. It made a lot of money. But, money isn’t everything. His response was to kill his pop career with three albums often referred as the ditch trilogy. They weren’t bad albums. But, they weren’t what was expected of him. In doing that he said, “Whenever I get too close to the middle of the road, I head straight for the gutter where things are more interesting.”
Well, that’s a bit harsh.
But, it is a good way to look at things that are getting a little too common. Yes. I photographed the second line as I normally would, but I paid closer attention to the edges. I wasn’t looking for the “normal” edge pictures like guys dancing on roofs or porches. That’s easy stuff. See it. Press the button. I was looking a little deeper. For smaller moments.
Those of you who seem to be right on my footsteps when you read this stuff can thank me when you see me. You know who you are. You can’t buy me a beer since I don’t drink. But, I accept cash. I’m fairly nondenominational. Bigger denominations are better. Oh yeah. One of you gets a pass…you don’t care what I do. Heh!
The second bit of advice came from someone who I think has been to New Orleans maybe twice in his life. But, he works regularly for Nat Geo Soc and is a Magnum member. These days he is producing his own books, which actually sell for big dollars.
That said, he reminded me that what I’m really doing no matter how artfully I try to do it, is documenting something that won’t be there in the future. I’m holding on to something special. I’m making pictures for future generations. Then, he proceeded to “hit me up the side of my head.” He told me to work harder. Longer. Forget this smarter nonsense. Make pictures. Post them here. There. Everywhere. Make books. Market them. Get the work out there anywhere that I can. As often as I can. After all. Life is short. Very short.
I keep telling myself that. Sometimes, it takes another voice to do the job. This time I listened. Because time fades away.
This picture. I was walking down one side of the second line. After a black SUV rolled by slowly, I decided that I want to be on the other side of the street. For no apparent reason. When I started walking along other side of the SUV, I saw these sisters. I saw the younger one first. Then the other one popped her head out of the window. She likes the color lavender. Check out the her phone case and her fingernails. She looks a little taciturn. No worries. She isn’t. Once I started keeping pace with the SUV, she started laughing and talking to me.
One more thing. It appears all this advice is working. I’ve been photographing everything that moves. And, some things that don’t. If you are reading the full version of Storyteller, look at the Instagram picture. Just my pool. Looks like a different place. If you’d like, please follow me there. I’m laskowitzpictures. I work really hard to post very different pictures than the ones I show you here.
The one I use to focus and frame when I take a picture.
So. This post isn’t about “The King and I,” a musical about the King of Siam. Or, as we know it today, Thailand. This is about a second line parade. The Nine Times 9 second line to be precise. It was a huge parade, which wove its way through a pretty big chink of real estate in the 9th Ward. I managed to photograph it at a couple of locations. It took little hustle, but it was achievable. We probably could have driven to a couple more places, but these days I’m pretty much after specific kinds of pictures. I’m not looking to document the entire parade. Just as well. You’ll see why below.
The picture. Because I’ve photographed this second line a couple of times over the years, I pretty much knew the route and how big it would be. Unfortunately, that meant I couldn’t work as closely as I have been. Nor, could I work with one camera and a short lens. This picture was made with a 200mm lens while the king rode on a float. It’s an example of one of my kind of street portraits.
There is more news about this parade. Terrible news. I’m backing into it. Can you tell?
There was an after-party at one of the neighborhood parks. In the Upper 9th Ward. I have no idea what time the parade actually came to an end. The parade route sheet said 4pm. But, since second lines rarely start on time, they never end on time. We were gone by around 2pm. Some time around 6pm, there was a shooting at the park. A mass shooting. Ten people were shot. Or more. Some people were taken to local hospitals in private vehicles. I am not aware that anybody was killed. I don’t know what to say. Well, I do.
I sort of hate adding this today, but… well, you know. Help a guy out.
The second line started an hour later than planned. When they hit the streets they came through the bulldog. That’s right, Family Ties came right through the mascot of Joseph H. Clark Prep High School in Treme.
Yep. The second line began in Treme and mostly walked through the 7th Ward. A ward away. Treme is located in the 6th Ward. It’s not like it’s a million miles away. Cross the neutral ground on Esplanade Avenue — like about three feet — and you cross from the 6th to the 7th Wards.
I made this picture at just about the announced starting time.
I was talking to a group of photographers when I saw this guy come to the window. I made some joke about looking for pictures and drifted aimlessly toward the door. I made about three or four exposures and returned back to the group.
I never said a word. I’m sneaky like that. After all, so many second line pictures look about the same. I reckon I can use any edge I can get. A couple of other photographers walked over and shot the flag and door, but by then the guy in the window was just a memory. My memory. My picture.
Here’s another one. This one doesn’t have as much to do with the second line, as it does with the people who come out for the parades. Or, in this case, was taken to the parade. I doubt that he brought himself, especially since I know that his mama was standing right next to him. And, he seems a little young to be hanging out by himself.
What more can I say? A child and a red balloon. That’s pretty good, right?
The picture. F8 and get in everybody else’s way to take the picture. Actually, that dark shape behind this little guy is another photographer. I suppose it could be said that he was in my way. Or not. These things are free for alls. We are used to it.
I was going to write something like, “Pretty in Pink.” But, that’s way too obvious. And, this second line, while on the small side, is important. After all, the Krewe of Zulu were walking in honor of a passed member. No, they weren’t dressed in Mardi Gras clothes. No Tramps suits. No masking. Mostly just good Sunday clothes. Yes. The men’s suits, hats and shirts matched. That’s part of the tradition.
Along came this float. All pink. Hats. Flowers. Lipstick. Beads.
How could I not photograph them and their bright pink… well, pretty much everything? Then, there are those sunglasses.
If you didn’t take a picture, you weren’t there. That’s what they say. Today. I guess that means that I’m always there. Every time. Every place. Just a few remaining scenes from the second line. And, some of the people who watch them. Or, who participate in some way.