Brass band out there.

They came out to play.

And, so they did. If a second line starts and rain falls in the middle of it, everybody keeps going unless the rain starts blowing sideways and upside down. Anything else is just a drizzle to them. And, us.

There’s a lesson in that. Don’t be denied.

There’s a lesson in that too. Here we are on the tenth day of January and I’m already reading about people who are starting to lose their way in 2019. I don’t know what it is. Maybe the leadership in The United States just isn’t up to the job. I watched both speeches last night. Afterwards, we all said the same the same thing. “That’s a half hour of my life I’ll never get back.”

For other people, the year started out terribly. People got sick. People got fired. A friend died.

You know what? That’s life. As John Lennon once wrote, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” Suck it up. Pull up your big boy and girl pants and move on. In a war long ago and far away, when something really bad happened, the African American troops used to say, “Ain’t no thang. Drive on.”

Drive on, indeed.

For anyone who thought that just because the calendar flipped from 2018 to 2019 things were going to get easier, disabuse yourself of that notion. This may be the hardest year yet. Hopefully, when we come to the end of it, all the hard work, suffering and some pain will be worth it. Maybe. Maybe not. We may have another year to go.

This is your “Come to Jesus” speech for today.

Now, don’t make me come out there and give it again. Heh. How many of us heard something like that when we were growing up? If you were like I was, it was a daily occurrence. Or, it was this variation. “Just wait until your father comes home.” Or, “Apologize to her right now,” said with a stamp of your mom’s feet after you did something to your sister. I’m just talking here. I wouldn’t know anything about that. Heh. No. Not me. Never. Heh.

The picture. It’s a couple of weeks old. I’m trying to photograph second lines, but post them less because I’m not sure that you understand them. That’s what the numbers say, anyway. When I make good picture  — something like this one — I know you understand music, I’ll post it. Besides, the guy playing his trumpet right at me is my pal on the scene, Kevin. He likes seeing his picture. He’s a musician. What do you expect? It proves that he was out there. For that matter, it proves that I was out there.

Website update three. I have two more things to do. Figure out how to make my portfolio be found and accessed easier. And, figure out how to attach PayPal to those images. I want that to be seamless so that when you want to buy or license an image, you don’t even have to contact me. Did you read that? YOU. BUY. LICENSE.



A little preparation.

There’s more to it than you think.

Walking a second line takes some work. Not just on the street. But, inside. Inside the club, bar or house from which the second line begins. Sometimes I go inside. Sometime I don’t. Depends. Usually when I’m inside most people are happy to see me. After all, a little respect goes a long way.

This picture deserves to be opened up so you can see what’s going on.

If you look closely, you can see that the subject is in sharp focus. That would be the smiling woman with all those hands surrounding her. You would also see that one of those hands has a red-painted manicure. That’s a big deal for female second line participants. Since this second line is called “Women of Class,” dressing well is very important. Finally, there is the subject’s smartphone being held out in front of her. Care to guess why? It’s for me. Of course, I obliged. I’m in their house.

I’ve gotten to the point where so many second lines look the same. Sure, the colors of the day change. Rarely does anything else. Even the people. Especially the people. They attend second lines that aren’t theirs as a show of respect. Brass bands are the most interesting. Musicians play in multiple bands. All they do is change their shirts.

I like photographing second lines. As a friend says, they are like going to church. The sights, the smells, the good feelings are important to me.

I am a photographer first. I was trained to tell stories. I was trained to make pictures that are a little different. I was trained to edit, okay — cull — my work down to the best pictures. So, I try very hard to figure out different angles, different locations, different approaches. Usually, I fail. That’s okay. I think about baseball. Using old school metrics, the best hitters bat around .300. That means they made an out two out of three times. That’s fine with me.

It’s the one successful at bat I try to make count. Certainly, there is the decisive moment. A moment when most of what you are seeing, when somebody does something that is so good, so cool, so exciting, that you better push the button.

You’d better know the scene.

For a while it was a big deal to capture guys dancing on roofs. Now, everybody dances on roofs. Or, there is a very young trombone player whose mom sort of introduced him to the adults. That was unique. Now he’s everywhere. His mom used to stand near him. Now, she doesn’t. She knows that we’ll — all of us, musicians and photographers — will look after him.


I keep looking. Thinking. Watching.

One thing I know for sure. If I make one new picture. Or, the guy next to me does it, we’ll all be doing it within about two weeks. We are all on the same chase. It’s not really competitive. None of us care. Not like that.

This picture. I went inside where the ladies were getting ready. I smiled. I nodded. I made some pictures. A guy came up to me. I thought he was going to ask me to leave. That happens sometimes.

Not this time.

He asked for my business card. He is getting married and wants to hire a photographer. We’ve talked since. I asked “why me?’ He said that if I could walk into what is essentially a private session and not upset anybody I must know what I’m doing.  I didn’t quote him because those are my words. Turns out that he works with a lot of second liners. I’ll make him a good deal in exchange for access.

I’m not really a wedding photographer anyway.

Women of Class King George Randall
Women of Class King George Randall

The king’s portrait.

Yes. One of my street portrait-things. I made it at the Women of Class second line. It seems that I take about the same picture every year at this parade. The color changes. The scene doesn’t. It was made as the parade was forming. In a parking lot.

And, that’s something important to know. Arrive early. You’ll have a lot more freedom if you do. By the time the actual event begins those who are participating will already be used to you. They will allow you to move freely through the parade. Or, whatever it is you are photographing. Especially in a city like New Orleans, where press credentials or “passes” really don’t seem to matter on the street. In fact, they might make it harder to move about.

Oh yeah. As always. Or, for a little while longer.

Have a look at Storyteller, November 4. Even if you can’t donate, please do share.


High heeled shoes...
High heel shoes…

Everybody could use a helping hand. Or two. Or four.

Especially if you are wearing high heels on New Orleans streets. And, if you are the Queen of The Women of Class. Luckily, Queen Trenice Jenkins didn’t walk in the second line. She rode in comfort, as a queen should. But, getting down the stoop steps and even over the potholed street was a bit of a challenge. So, she had a little help.

Me? I really like the helping hands. It’s a very cool little moment. But, I also really like the blue Beatles t-shirt. Everybody should have one. That’s what I think, anyway.

The picture. Hmmm. You know what I did. Still staying simple. Still getting close. And, as usual there is this…

Thank you to all who have donated so far. I’ll be asking for addresses so that I can send you gifts. Signed posters, prints or signed prints.

A musical portrait.
A musical portrait.

More fun. In the streets.

Music, brass band, joyful noise. On a Sunday. In Central City. I think the pictures speak for themselves. So, I’m not going to write much more. But…

As always. Or, for a while longer.

I’m sure that you know by now. But, just in case got to Storyteller on November 4. You’ll see all the details.

A little drum fun.
A little drum fun.
Trumpeting away.
Tromboning away.

This just about says to all.
This just about says to all.

Well. This sticker just about says it all.


For most bands, touring is less fun than staying home. But, musicians probably have a chance to earn more money than they do at home. Or, releasing an album. These days albums don’t sell. Streaming is the thing. Most of those people who know this stuff say that Adele’s new album will probably the last big seller. Ever.


If a band manages their tour well and doesn’t spend money on stuff they don’t need while they are on the road, they can likely earn some reasonable money. On the other hand, there are a lot of lonely days and nights in hotel rooms in which they’d rather not be staying. There is time away from their family. Friends. Local clubs and hangouts. Even in this day and age of modern and instant communication the context of life is lost. A musician might come home and know what happened while he or she was away, but not how it happened.

Then, there’s this.

The late Allen Toussaint said he always hoped to die at home. In New Orleans. He died in Spain. His funeral is Friday. You don’t have to ask. Of course, I’ll be there.

At least he passed almost immediately after doing the thing that he loved. Playing music for people.

The picture. Y’all know that I like to work the margins. I like to photograph people who are either not directly part of an event, or who are in the process of getting ready for their part. Often, these pictures are much more interesting than the event itself. I’ve been pretty lucky in the past few weeks. But… you never know.

You can’t quite see it in his hand, but the tuba player is talking on his smart phone. He’s trying to round-up the rest of his band. It was Sunday morning. Some of his band are probably just waking up.

And, should you forget…

As I’m sure you know, and wish that I would stop writing, the details are posted on Storyteller. November 4, 2015. You help me frame my gallery show and I give you stuff. I’d like to give you more stuff. See what I’m saying. Heh.

Ladies of Class hit the streets.
Women of Class hit the streets.

Another Sunday. Another second line. Like church. Only different. Way different.

This time it was the Women of Class Social Aid and Pleasure Club. They have a slogan or tagline. “We are who we are and no one will change us!”

Let that be a lesson to all of us.

This was actually the first stop. The men and one brass band led the parade. They stopped, picked up the women, added a second brass band, another squad and headed down the road.

The women took the lead. At one point, somehow, I got jammed between the brass band who were supporting the ladies and the leader of the men’s group. That’ll happen. Especially when there is almost no rope management. The guys who work the ropes keep the parade from descending into chaos. That wasn’t happening.

The picture. I continued down my simpler path. One camera body. One wide angle lens. And, a lot of use of a very special piece of gear. The gray matter in my head. What there is of it. Oh, and my legs instead of a telephoto lens when I needed to get closer. This approach seems to be working out just fine. I think I’m making some pretty good images. At least, they aren’t predictable as they’ve been in the past. That makes it fun for me. Oh. One thing to know. I’m not judging my work against anybody else’s work. The only person with whom I compete is me. Anything else is a fool’s mission.

And, again…

Hopefully, you know why. By now. If not, please check out Storyteller on November 4. You’ll see the whole thing.

One more thing. I have no idea what that little girl on the right is looking at. But, that’s really the picture.

The Queen on the move.
The Queen on the move.

The queen doesn’t look very happy. Her handlers don’t look happy either. That might have something to do with me and my positioning. But, I don’t think so. You’ll see why in a minute.

In the old days when queens were queens and everybody bowed down to them, this unhappy look would be a bad thing. Not so much any more. Off with my head. Or something like that.

Now, it’s just a question of too much weight.


Skip down to the last picture. She wears that giant thing on her shoulders for three miles. That doesn’t sound like much, but how would you like to carry those giant wings around for three hours? Don’t answer. I already know the answer… you wouldn’t. I wouldn’t either.

The queen’s name? I wish I knew. I owe it to her to publish it. But, it is not on any of the Women of Class’ flyers. It is nowhere to be found on the internet. No Google. No Wiki. That’s one of the things about social clubs and this city in general. People forget little things. Like the queen’s name. Sometimes, they forget their own names. But, that’s a whole other story.

One more thing. In my own defense. The top picture. Where the queen’s hand is up? It looks like she could be saying no pictures. She’s not doing that. In a second more full body picture that I didn’t include here, it’s fairly obvious. Very high heels. Long, long ballroom gown. Those two things don’t always mix. Her raised hand is in preparation for tripping. She didn’t trip. I made that picture with a very wide angle lens… meaning I was pretty close. If she had tripped, I wouldn’t have let her fall.

The Queen working the ropes..
The Queen working the ropes.
The Queen on the float.
The Queen on the float.

Women of Class second line parade.
Women of Class second line parade.

The people I know. In Central City. We’ve become friends. After a few years of doing this we sort of know each other. Second line paraders… They walk. They play music. They dance. They have a pretty good time. I walk. I dance — sorta. I take pictures. I have a pretty good time.

This is a parade called The Women of Class. Their color for the year is purple. That’s good. I always like purple. The color purple. You know the one. The one that probably makes you smile too.

These pictures make me smile. I’ve been experimenting around a little. First, these pictures — two of them anyway — are a little more formal than normal. One of my agencies asked me to try something a little different so I’m happy to oblige. Then, there’s the hue and tone. These pictures are a little richer and heavier than normal. It’s just a test. New software. Slightly different way of thinking. We’ll see.

The King and I
The King and I
Princess and the Rope
Princess and the Rope