As part of a personal campaign to travel more in the year 2016 (#travelmore2016 was all over my Facebook wall in the beginning of the year) I managed to book a flight and secure a four day-three night stay down in New Orleans, LA.
NOLA was on a list of five new places that I wished to venture to in 2016. It was the second trip of the desired five voyages and came only three weeks before heading overseas to Europe. I honestly wasn't too sure if I was excited to go to New Orleans. My budget was looking a bit thin and I hadn't booked much for Europe. A week before heading to New Orleans I honestly thought of cancelling the trip, eating the cost of the plane ticket, and just preparing for Europe. That would have been a huge mistake, because New Orleans was spectacular. And by the grace of God, I was able to book all my remaining needs for Europe within days of returning from New Orleans. Never underestimate your faith and God's ability to provide. Especially when you're doing something positive in the name of faith and venturing outside of your comfort zone. God smiles on that.
Before you scroll down to see the images, I have to set a disclaimer that while shooting down in Louisiana, and while creating this particular blog post, I ran into a problem that I like to call...
The New Orleans Color Dilemma
Don't worry this is not going to be an angry tirade about race relations in New Orleans, though that is still an issue here (and everywhere) as I would learn from a long-time employee at Gene's Po-Boys. My color dilemma is about photography. Something about New Orleans kept me in a bind when it came to deciding if images and moments were better captured and displayed in black and white or in color.
I was in favor of black and white because of the timeless nature of New Orleans. It's a place steeped in so much history and culture and the way people live, work, eat and play in present day New Orleans closely echoes an era of time where black and white photography was more popular, prevalent or maybe even the only type of photography available. I would see a street band playing on Bourbon Street and know that decades earlier the same kind of moment was occurring in a very similar way. People listening to music on the street, and offering up a few cents in appreciation. Bands entertaining for hours without a complaint of heat or exhaustion. Maybe the clothes they're wearing today are different, but the music, quite literally some of the songs, are the same. Black and white photography made a lot of sense.
But the argument for color photography is incredibly strong in New Orleans as well. The architecture. The rust. The wear and tear. The texture of things. The varied colors of the people from all ethnicities. The beads. The ever present, lasting decorations and celebrations of Mardi Gras. The masks and the costumes. The jesters and jokers. The food. The sunset over the city. All of these things have a vibrancy to them and color bursts from every surface in New Orleans, so how could I possibly ignore that?
All that said, it's clear that I would shoot New Orleans with both ideas in mind: capture the timeless nature, but capture the vibrant life as well. When you scroll through below, you will be met with both color and black and white images. I tried my best to group the shots together as to not make your eyes work too hard, but there will be times it jumps back and forth. Either way I hope you enjoy images from my journey to this gem of the south, the Big Easy, New Orleans.
After landing at Louis Armstrong (MSY), I ordered an Uber to head to my AirBnb (shout out to new-age traveling. I could have been a commercial for either of those brands on this trip). I was staying in the Treme neighborhood about 15 miles east of the airport, and had a great conversation with my driver. I was capturing a few videos as we talked and drove. There was only one small hiccup:
I had casually been in touch with my AirBnb hostess regarding my arrival date and time, but I had not actually gotten her exact address. AirBnb only listed her street: N. Derbigny St. No problem…N. Derbigny only stretches for 3/4 of a mile and then is split by the freeway and stretches for another mile on the other side…We’re good. Totally fine.
I took a guess and tried to throw myself centrally on to N. Derbigny. As I looked on the map, I saw that there was a high school on the street: Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School. I figured that would be a safe, public place to wait/loiter until hearing from my hostess with an exact address. It turned out to be a good hiccup (all travel hiccups end up becoming something good. Can’t wait to blog about what happened in Chicago…). I was on the corner of N. Derbigny and:
I walked one block northeast and hit Esplanade Ave. It’s an historic portage route which now contains some of New Orleans’ most scenic and historic architecture. I probably would not have made it there if not for this “accident.” Right on the corner of Esplanade and N. Derbigny I was greeted by the Dufour-Baldwin House, a Greek-revival/Italianate beauty:
There are no accidents. I was where I was supposed to be. What a great introduction to New Orleans.
With great timing, my Airbnb hostess, Eve, would message me and I received the exact address. They were on the other side of the freeway and I would walk a little over half a mile to reach her house (exercise never hurt, right?)
I reached the shotgun-style duplex and was greeted by my hostess’s boyfriend's mother. “He’s here. Your guest is waitin’ here for y’all,” she would say into the phone. A few moments later Adam and Eve arrived, with their niece and nephew. Smiles and handshakes were exchanged. I received a quick tour of the home and had my choice of rooms, as no other guests were staying in the house that week. Afterward, they were curious to know about me and my purpose for visiting New Orleans.
“I’ve never been here before and I just wanted to see it. I’m also a photographer and want to get some shots while I’m here.” They excitedly told me of many destinations worth photographing. I continued,
“I’ll have to make sure and get some shots of y’all before I leave too. If that’s alright…”
Eve replied that it would be and joked that she’d have to get into modeling mode. We laughed and then something clicked in me: I realized that I should not be shy. I didn’t wait until later, I went inside and got my camera and asked/offered to take a few portraits of their family. They were happy to, and it ended up being a nice moment. The children were comfortable around me/the camera and this first one is one of my favorites. Enjoying some strawberries:
I’m trying to figure out how to travel all the time. For work or for play, I’d love to explore new places as often as I can, because little magical things happen while you’re traveling. I’ve made no secret in this blog or in my life of being a man of faith. God is my all, and I love the little things He’s done during my trips this year to let me know He’s with me.
If you caught it when I mentioned it before, you’re keener than me, because it took me until returning to Los Angeles to realize it: my hostess’s name was Eve, and her boyfriend was named Adam. Yep…Adam and Eve were my hosts in New Orleans. Nice “coincidence.”
Their niece was too cute. Not in the least bit camera shy:
I did not want to waste a moment. I was settled in and had already gotten to work taking portraits. Why not head out into the city? I was hungry so I decided to check “get a New Orleans po-boy” off my todo list. I found Gene’s Po-Boys not too far away on Elysian’s Fields Ave. in the 7th Ward. Not that I didn’t love exercise (and God knows what I was about to eat in the way of a po-boy sandwich would most likely require some exercise afterward) but I decided I would order another Uber…
[Let me go ahead and just say that Uber was my main mode of transportation during this 4 day, 3 night, NOLA trip. It was not the worst of things except for the fact that I did not map out my excursions very well. I would go from one side of the city to the other for attractions. Another attraction would come to mind and I would find that it was back on the other side of the city where I was just…*slaps forehead. I’ll call it generosity. I was trying to be generous to local Uber drivers. Sure.)
… a young man arrived named, William. He was friendly and kind and in excited traveller mode I struck up conversation with him. It’s my first time to New Orleans, I’m a photographer, etc. William turned out to be from New Orleans and he was studying/working towards being a social worker. Not that it had any bearing on my opinion of him, but he was also a Washington Redskins fan. I grew up in Northern VA for a couple of formative years and the Redskins were the team to root for, being so young they were about the only team I knew in professional sports.
We reached the nearby Gene’s Po-Boy and before William left, I asked him if it’d be okay to capture his portrait. He was up for it. He had an amazing hairstyle, an untamed ginger afro. Too cool. On Elysian Field’s Ave, next door to the sandwich shop a tagged wall served as the perfect backdrop:
I would later send the shots to William much to his delight. It was a pleasure to meet him.
Inside Gene’s Po-Boy I was greeted by the smell of hot grease and meat. Mmm. Just like it should be. I kept my excited tourist face on, and told the lady behind the counter that it was a first time in NOLA and first po-boy kind of day. She recommended the roast beef po-boy as it would be a nice first one to try. She was right. Along with a huge side of fries…mhmm..
I’m not aiming to be a big food blogger, so I won’t show a shot of the sandwich. It was honestly not very photogenic anyway. It was a mess on the plate, but that’s very okay. They aren’t going for presentation, and why should they? They probably don’t expect the food to be photographed, just eaten and enjoyed. So just throw it together and make it delicious. It was.
Afterward I grabbed a quick shot of the ladies that run the place, and thanked them again for the meal:
the Spotted Cat + shotgun jazz band
After my po-boy I knew where to head next. A lot of friends and Uber passengers (oh yeah, I drive ride share in LA for extra cash) consistently recommended Frenchmen’s Street as a location to visit. Bourbon Street is a given; it's much more about Mardi-Gras and tourism, but I was repeatedly informed that the vibe of Frenchmen’s Street was much more down-to-earth; more where the locals hang out.
While many great people made New Orleans recommendations, I heeded the advice of someone just a bit more than others. I won’t mention her by name, because she’s not about being fanned out over, but through a serendipitous Uber ride one night, I had a passenger whom turned out to be an actress and very successful voice talent for many animated series. I’m very confident you’ve seen her face and heard her voice before, even if you didn’t know it.
Our conversation that night of her Uber ride sparked a great friendship and she’s been a really motivating and inspirational and I couldn’t be more thankful for her. She is a mentor, friend, big-sister and I heart her very much. All that said, she LOVES New Orleans. I posted to Facebook that I was traveling there and she called me on the phone and openly and excitedly shared her favorite recommendations and stories. She feels like her soul is connected to New Orleans in a powerful way. One of many takeaways from the conversation was the way she described the city:
“It’s magical. Anything you want can happen there. Anything.”
Before the conversation ended she highly recommended going to Frenchman’s street and in particular visiting the Spotted Cat Music Club. I sauntered down Frenchman’s Street and could already feel what everyone and my actress friend was referring to….the vibe, oh my goodness. Live music coming out of every bar. Literally every bar. People walking the street with drinks in hand…it was incredible. It did not take long for me to…spot…the Spotted Cat. I walked in and was greeted by the sounds of the Shotgun Jazz Band:
Headed by trumpeter and lead singer, Marla Dixon, the Shotgun Jazz Band doused me with a true taste of “New Orleans.” I couldn’t leave. I just had to stay for each set. Patrons were swinging on the tiny dance floor in front of the band, and the drinks kept flowing. It was here, in this moment that I really knew that cancelling this trip would have been a mistake. This place and moment made it all worthwhile.
I really enjoyed this image of trombonist, Charlie Halloran . The complicated green hue and film feel is thanks to Fotor.com. They have a nice array of filters that can hype up your images. They are nice enough to do this for free, but a few bucks can unlock even more features. Part of me wanted to treat every image like this one but I did not edit these images all at the same time, so replicating this effect would be nearly impossible. I color edit images like an expressive painter, I guess. Each experience is unique. A little bit more here, a little bit here, voila. I let each image have it’s own personality. This is what felt right for this one in the moment:
Here is a time when the “New Orleans Color Dilemma” I mentioned earlier came into play. While editing, I felt like a few images of the Shotgun Jazz Band felt better in black and white:
I usually don’t like to call out my iPhone shots and separate them from my DSLR shots because most of the time it’s quality is right on par and you don’t notice a difference, but the following three images are thanks to my iPhone6S. Not too shabby considering the lighting conditions:
This last one was again iPhone6S with a lot of love and editing in the app Snapseed. I highly recommend it for iPhone photo editing:
I kept along Frenchman’s Street and would pop my head in and out of several bars, again all with music flowing out of them on to the street. I came upon a particular club that was too good to leave right away. It was the 30°/90° club.
Inside, the place was very alive. Music was lifting the roof off. The bar was handing out drink after drink and the crowd was cheering and dancing. This was the second affirmation that coming to New Orleans was a good idea. My next observation really brought it home: I never should have thought about cancelling the trip. I looked around 30°/90° and intentionally took note of something spectacular:
I realized, this was the most ethnically diverse and ethnically inclusive crowd I had ever been in. Black, White, Asian, Latin, and more, all people were there. Furthermore, various age groups were there. You had younger people next to middle-aged people…What was best, was that upon really watching the interactions, every group was interacting with every group. Black people weren’t just hanging out with Black people, young people weren’t just hanging with young people. Everyone was interacting was everyone, openly, with joy.
“Am I in heaven right now? Everyone is just getting along and having a good time.” I think there’s a lesson to be learned about music and how it brings people together. Because it was the atmosphere. It was New Orleans. People are there to party and have a good time, nothing more, nothing less. There’s no time to worry about your differences when music is in the air.
My actress friend was right. Magical.
The group on stage, setting that wonderful atmosphere was a live band, named Soul Company. Straight. Fire:
And again, a few in black and white...
I would continue down Frenchman’s Street enjoying the sights and sounds until it felt like the responsive thing to go back to my AirBnb. What a first night. NOLA was already worth it.
[Quick disclaimer about this post, the trip to NOLA: I would spend the next two days going back and forth around the city. Again, didn’t plan it the best and spent a lot on Uber. I’ve organized the rest of these photos and moments by attraction or excursion, not really chronologically. I’ll start out with…]
Bourbon Street and the French Quarter
This place doesn’t need much of an introduction. The home of Mardi-Gras and street jazz did not disappoint. I was all about people watching, listening to music and really enjoying some scenic street photography…
I was a big fan of the abundance of art in New Orleans. . You would just look to your left or right and there'd be an entrance, a small alley gallery filled with unique pieces that eventually lead back to a courtyard filled with more:
You couldn't avoid music on Bourbon Street if you tried (and why would you?)
Ut oh. Busted.
I am not the most cunning street photographer.... But these young men didn't seem to mind and kept on drumming (making for a much better shot...)
One more look for the camera...
This group was a lot of fun: The Secondhand Street Band. I came upon them as they were singing about The Bear Necessities of life. This little girl donating to them warmed my heart...
I knew eventually that I would satiate my joy of photographing statues. There were a few fun ones inside the New Orleans Musical Legends Park. I captured the likenesses of Fats Domino, Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, Ronnie Kole, Louis Prima and Irma Thomas (and liked how they had been beaded):
Beads. So many beads. If you look incredibly closely, this set below says, "Happy New Year," which makes me think they'd been hanging there for over 5 months:
This would be a recurring theme in the French Quarter: beautiful horses working hard drawing carriages:
Photographing the various stylings of 19th Century architecture in the French Quarter was a must. The rust, the patina, the balconies had a language all their own, exuding the spirit of New Orleans wonderfully:
As I mentioned a moment ago, I'm a fan of photographing statues. I had the chance to add to my collection: the bronze plated figure of Chief Justice Edward Douglas White which sits outside of the Supreme Court of Louisiana:
Through the recommendation of my friend, Vera, I visited the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. It turned out to be pretty fascinating. You see things like the first toothbrush or really archaic medical devices. There was stuff in there that made you think, “really? They used to do….that?….with that?” *cringe:
Another great recommendation: my friend, Tiara, vouched for The Original Pierre Maspero’s (est. 1788) on Chartres St. for some good New Orleans soul food. I did capture a shot of this meal. The Crescent City Sampler was the way to go: Cajun Jambalaya, Crawfish Etouffée and Chicken & Andouille Gumbo:
Excursions - noma and north end
I did take some time to get outside of the hustle of the French Quarter and would head over to The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). It is a part of the New Orleans City Park and sits about 2.75 miles northwest of the River.
I don’t think I had my driver intentionally drop me off far away from the museum, but I remember walking a long distance in order to get there. No matter, I was able to take in a nice breeze and the nature. I was first greeted by the site of Spanish Moss trees:
A quick look at the City Park Ferris Wheel:
While Leandro Erlich’s Window with Ladder - Too Late for Help sculpture was a site to behold, I found the tiny lizard resting on the sculpture’s ladder to be captivating:
Timing. Caught a dragonfly floating their the tip of "Karma,” the stainless steel sculpture by South Korean artist Do-Ho Suh:
After the nice walk, I finally arrived at the New Orleans Museum of Art:
It was then off in another Uber to head a little north. My AirBnb hostess said that Lake Pontchartrain might be worth checking out. I got a kick out of the Lakeshore Dr. walkway. A few birds playing by the water's edge, near the cool concrete breakers:
Back to the city
I headed back south into the heart of the city. On my list was The National WWII Museum. I did not take the full tour but even without full admission, there is a nice set of exhibits and lobby area worth stepping inside and viewing. Most impressively is a C-47 hanging inside the museum's main atrium:
I enjoyed the colors and brickwork of the Louisiana Civil War Museum:
Just around the corner was Lee Circle which naturally contains a monument for Confederate leader, Robert E. Lee. He sits high atop a sculpted Doric column:
(Side note: another one of those coincedental magic travel moments happened here. My AirBnb host, Adam was working around the Lee Circle and we chated for a bit. No odds or timing on that. Just good universe vibes.)
I then headed up St. Charles Ave. on my way to Lafayette Square. Before reaching the small park, I caught a nice glimpse of St. Patrick's Church:
I enjoyed capturing a few more statues inside of Lafayette Square. First was that of philanthropist and eccentric figure, John McDonogh, whom left an exorbitant amount of money in his will for the cities of New Orleans and Baltimore to build schools for underprivileged children, hence the statue showing two children reaching towards his bust:
In the center of the Square is the likeness of Kentucky Senator, US Secretary of State and Speaker of the House, Henry Clay:
Shame on me; there is a third statue straight away on the opposite side of the Square that I did not capture. It is of Benjamin Franklin. Sorry, Ben.
Again, chronologically, this post is not entirely accurate, but is more directed towards the overall attractions I visited in New Orleans. That said, most undoubtedly, my favorite part of the trip and the city was Jackson Square, located on Decatur St. in the French Quarter just off of the Mississippi River.
It is towered over by the St. Louis Cathedral. It was incredibly photogenic and I could not stop:
I walked the grounds many times and eventually entered the St. Louis Cathedral:
[Before we go inside, here's another example of the "Color Dilemma." These following two shots are actually taken at different times. I had ventured to Jackson Square twice and forgot that I had already captured this dramatic entrance shot of the Cathedral the first time. Is it better in color or in black and white?]
I like the composition of the color shot better, but the shadows and contrast work much better in the black and white shot.
I finally entered and was blown away by the ambiance and splendor of the 18th Century Spanish Colonial gem:
The most wonderful part of Jackson Square, however, is outdoors. The energy, the people, the street artists, the painters, the musicians, the performers...
Mick Jagger and David Bowie would be proud of this guy...
I saw this performer walking across the Square with frame in hand. A curious moment, but I would come across him again later...
I mean, come on, full circles of people gathering to watch a street magician. Too cool:
Just a ring, ma'am. Please check, just a normal ring...
Thanks folks. Be sure to tip your magician...
Who doesn't like a good sword swallowing performance? This talented guy's name was Eric:
Just around the corner, "Magic Matt," was wowing a small crowd with a few masterful tricks:
At the tip of Jackson Square is the infamous Cafe Du Monde. I would eventually stop by, but my first site of it involved catching some pigeons fighting over leftover beignets. Loved it:
Speaking of birds, I mention it in a few places on this blog (like London) that I've developed a gravitation towards photographing birds during my traveling this year. They represent freedom and flight, so of course I'd feel connected to them:
I would take a few more laps around Jackson Square, taking in the local artists, colors and street performers:
I came back to the "Man in the Frame." I tried to get people's names whenever I could, but unfortunately I forgot to ask him. I am thankful though; he saw me in front of him with the camera and leaned into that pose for me:
The Man in the Frame brought up an interesting thought/discussion on Facebook. I posted a few photos from New Orleans in the days upon returning to Los Angeles. One photo that I shared was one you saw earlier, the niece of my AirBnb hostess smiling on her front porch. Here it is again to remind you:
A friend liked the photo and later commented/suggested that adding a color splash to the strawberries on the plate would have been a nice touch. As in, make the strawberries red while leaving the other portions of the photo in black and white. It's a fair critique and I agreed with her to a degree, but the conversation made me bring to the surface my feelings about color splash images: I , don't really care for them. They've never moved me significantly enough to create them or look for opportunities to create them after I shoot.
I churned through the concept of color splash images while editing the rest of my photographs from New Orleans. It bothered me that I shut them down so quickly on Facebook. But I started to understand why I feel the way I do about them. It all comes down to a creative idea of: intention...versus....discovery.
What I mean is I approach editing images and in a very spiritual way. Rarely do I have an "intention" while editing photographs. "The photo needs to be bright, or more red, or have more shadows, or it needs to be black and white." I don't have an intention when editing photos. This only applies to images I shoot for fun or for myself. When editing for a client, the image "needs to be" sellable. It has to be readable, no matter what. But for art or fun, there are no intentions. Instead it's a process of discovery. This statement will be quite "out there" but....while editing, I really think "what does this image want to be?"
I will play with the image until certain things emerge. "Ohh it's nicer in blue, it needs a little more contrast, yes, less highlights...no..." it's one edit at a time until I feel the best version of the image has emerged. I once heard a quote, "no piece of art is ever finished, just abandoned." I can relate to that. Sometimes I have to stop myself from further edits or renditions of images.
All that said, I feel that color splash images take that "discovery" process out of the equation. When you highlight a specific color or specific object in an image, you are very much creating or editing with intention. It's not the worst of things, but you are essentially saying to your viewer, "this object or color matters. Look at it." End of story. It does not leave much in the way of interpretation or discovery, in my opinion.
Back to the Man in the Frame and why he caused a problem: I hit a wall in my artistic integrity. The more I thought about the image and about color splash images in general, it dawned on me: the Man in the Frame wanted to be a color splash image. I had to do it. It just made too much sense I could envision the final product too well. I could see everything around and behind the frame in color and everything in the frame, including the man’s arms coming through the frame (how perfect is that?) in black and white. Why that color configuration? Because of the Man's expression; the difference between color and black and white could be a great way to highlight his melancholy. It could be a way of saying, “the world around him may be vibrant, but his whole world has…lost color." That seemed to be what that image wanted to be. It turned out to be much stronger than my sepia interpretation, but I'll let you be the judge:
No mistaking the one below. It was a vibrant color image all the way:
The following image ended up being my favorite shot from the entire trip and on of my favorite portraits in my entire seven year portfolio. I was continuing to float around Jackson Square just looking for shots and noticed a woman sitting on a bench in a stunning dress, gloves and head-dress, completely in costume with a Dia de los Muertos vibe. The artist in view was Marcela Singleton.
She was clearly a professional so I blurted out something in the way of offering her a few dollars in exchange for capturing her portrait (I was scolded earlier for trying to get a photograph of someone for free). She kindly agreed to pose (much kinder than the person earlier), and was ready for the shot. I put my camera to my eye, then immediately grimaced , and lowered the camera. "To be honest, the background behind you isn't great." I knew I only had one shot at it, so I didn't want it to be mediocre and deleted later on. Without skipping a beat, Marcela silently put up one finger as if to say, "hold on a minute," and then she proceeded to open her umbrella, throw it over her shoulder, and with a flick of her wrist she opened her fan:
Are you kidding me? Wow. *Click. One and done. I smiled, and nodded politely and pathetically gave her a few dollars. The moment and her image are worth so much more. Upon returning the Los Angeles, I would email Marcela the shot and she was appreciative. As I was trying to do my homework during this blog post, I googled Marcela and it turns out that she's kind of popular and famous in New Orleans. I did not realize that at the time and I'm not saying it to boost my own ego, but to compliment her. I came across a handful of images that other professional photographers have created of her in the past. In addition she is a found object artist and painter. Pretty cool stuff. It was a pleasure to meet her and capture that image of her.
From there, I just kept wandering the Square, people watching and getting special "only in New Orleans" kind of moments, like this group of guys. Just a few musical instruments and beer in the Square. Loved it:
A small brass band was playing outside of the St. Louis Cathedral and I had to capture a few. Oh when the saints go marching in...
This moment might have been my favorite in capturing that "magic" of New Orleans. This little girl could not get enough of this brass band, and kept dancing and bobbing her head along with the music. She was skipping by during one verse and I caught her in motion:
It didn't matter who you were, or where you were from (alright, Backstreet Boys...) the music brought everyone together. Heartwarming.
This portrait was a close second favorite to the portrait of Marcela above. These two shots were 1 and 1A, so close, but one of the trumpeters of the brass band above was this talented musician, Glen Andrews.
Before the band finished playing, it all came together in my mind. I knew I wanted to get a shot of "that lead trumpeter" and I scanned the area looking for the right location. There was an overhang of a small arcade in the building next to the St. Louis Cathedral. A rusting iron gate made a corner with a weathered concrete wall. I loved the texture. I envisioned the image well before asking Glen if it would be okay to photograph him. When I did approach him, he was politely accepting of the idea and allowed me to photograph him. I had him stand in the corner and he kind of looked at me like, "now what?" Something felt incomplete, so I said, "Yeah, I don't know...try to get your trumpet up somehow. Maybe rest it on your leg." He placed his foot against the wall and:
Street photography and photographing portraits of strangers, whether they are professional street artists or not, is something new to me, but I'm glad I had the confidence to just go for it. It produced some of my favorite portraits.
The day was wearing down and sunset was approaching. It's my blog and I can post what I want to... I am NOT sorry for the plethora of sunset images that are about to follow. Sunset in Jackson Square has been one of my favorite views and moments of the year:
Before the night was over, I made sure to go to Cafe Du Monde for some hot chocolate and beignets:
One of the final images of the night was back near Bourbon Street. I had walked by a few art galleries and more street musicians. I poked my head into a bar to catch this guitarist in action. In case you were wondering his music was more honky-tonk than anything else (there's a quick clip of him in the video below):
One of my other daytime excursions was to see Historic Algiers Point, technically the 2nd oldest neighborhood in New Orleans, established in 1719. I was excited to take the Algiers Ferry from Downtown over to the Point. I make no secret of being a movie fan, and I will admit, a part of my motivation and excitement in taking the Algiers Ferry was the 2006 Tony Scott Film, "Deja-Vu."
Short synopsis: Denzel Washington plays a New Orleans based detective cased with figuring out the details of both the terrorist act of an Algiers Ferry being bombed, and the murder of a New Orleans woman, Claire (played by Paula Patton). It gets much more complicated after that, but needless to say, a lot of the film takes place in New Orleans, and at the Algiers Ferry Terminal in particular. I had a nice stroll by the water's edge at the Riverwalk before leaving:
Clearly, thankfully, life did not imitate art. There was no bomb on the ferry and we made it to and from safely. On the way I was able to capture a view back towards the west side of the River and Jackson Square:
Not a bad view of Downtown and the Crescent City Connection either:
When you reach Algiers Point you are greeted by a great Louis Armstrong statue:
I did not have a destination in mind. I would end up making a small loop between the Ferry Terminal and the New Orleans Public Library. The first part of the walk would take me by the Holy Name of Mary Church. A beautiful Gothic Revival church:
This was a recurring sign. I saw one on Frenchmen's Street and here in Algiers Point. It really says everything about the spirit of New Orleans:
Above all, I enjoyed more classic Louisiana architecture on Algiers. Plants, doors, windows, gates and rust:
I noticed another recurring theme in New Orleans: cats and dogs just hanging out on the streets. Some were strays others securing their owners' homes. This guy below could not be bothered:
I had a nice conversation with an "Algerine" as I was headed back towards the ferry dock. Gotta love the Saints shirt. Geoff, with his best friend:
The country's first Gulf gas station is located on Algiers Point, LA. Fenced in and everything. I wonder if it could still pump gas...
Happy accident on this one. These men walking made a nice silhouette against the sky, but I did not have my camera up and ready to fire. I guess I fired it accidentally or way too soon before composing the shot fully. It ended up with a very canted angle, but it worked out nicely:
I risked almost missing the Ferry in order to come back and photograph the Old Courthouse. Worth it. Built in 1896, the Romanesque building still serves as a courthouse to this day:
...and when I said I "risked" missing the ferry, I would have had to wait another 30 minutes for the next one. I just wanted to make it sound more suspenseful.
The sun was starting to set and I loved capturing a few images on the waterfront. Admittedly, these are enhanced a little bit for effect. My favorite image was seeing the St. Louis Cathedral all the way on the side of the Mississippi:
I couldn't leave without getting one last shot of that great Louis Armstrong statue, standing perfectly in a sunset silhouette:
Back on the other side of the River I couldn't walk past a statue and let it get away (terrible pun because statues don't move...oh man...shame). But the likeness of Bernardo de Galvez, Spanish military leader and colonial governor of Louisiana and Cuba, on his steed. It almost looks like the horse is smiling:
There is another one. Stray cat (not liking me or my camera *insert hissing sound effect):
Nothing too particular about these following two images, again, I just liked the way sunset was forming over the city:
On my last day in town, I had a lot of time after breakfast (shrimp and grits) and before my flight. I walked around between Treme and Louis Armstrong Park capturing details on the street. Again, the rust and the patina of the surfaces was exquisite:
Louis Armstrong Park
On the morning of Saturday, May 14th, this 32 acre gem in the Treme neighborhood with its live jazz festivals the Mahalia Jackson Theatre for Performing Arts and New Orleans Municipal Auditorium...was a ghost town. Completely bare. Good timing, Mal. I said it at the beginning, I admit, I did not plan New Orleans properlyy before boarding the plane. Heck, I almost canceled. I absolutely missed the Jazz in the Park performances that Thursday night May 12th. But that's okay, I made the best out of it.
I sauntered into the open park and enjoyed...you guessed it...more statues:
It turned out to be more than just " photographing statues" this time. This particular space at the entrance of Louis Armstrong Park was an historical landmark. I was standing in Congo Square.
Under the rules of Code Noir, implemented in 1794, slaves were given Sundays off from work, but in New Orleans they were not given a place to congregate. That left slaves to meet wherever they could. In 1817, the mayor of New Orleans designated one place for slaves to congregate. It was here, Congo Square. They would sing, dance, and set up a market to sell goods. One interesting fact that I maybe slightly remembered, but learned again while doing research for this blog post: slaves could actually purchase their freedom during that time if they had raised enough money through such means as this open market.
I was first greeted by the work of New Orleans based sculptor, Sheleen Jones. A New Orleans Brass Marching Band:
Absolutely loved the “Spirit of Congo Square,” a relief by Nigerian born artist, Adewale Adenle. It simply, and boldly captures and tells the story of the site:
Loved the detail on the Chief Allison "Tootie" Montana statue. He was an historical New Orleans and Mardi-Gras figure serving as the Mardi Gras Indians“Chief of Chiefs” for over 50 years. This was another creation by New Orleans sculptor Sheleen Jones:
Walking around the Park I came across a “motion statue”of Buddy Bolden. He was known as the “King of Cornet” and was an important figure in the creation of rag-time music which would be a fundamental foundation for jazz. Sculpture by artist, Kimberly Dummons:
This one was a little bit different. It was called “French Opera House” by sculptor, Steve Kline. The most interesting part: there were engraved reliefs set inside of the mosaic tiles which were actually created from old photographs of famous opera houses. You may be able to make it out in that second image:
I'll conclude with these two statues, both by sculptor Elizabeth Catlett. The first, a modern interpretation of Mahalia Jackson which sits outside of the performing arts center in her name:
The second, a very nice "Satchmo" statue in the center of the park. It seemed like a fitting, lasting image to commemorate this wonderful trip:
Similar to my post about Seattle and Washington, I'd like to end with a video clip. I stitched together a few seconds of different experiences in New Orleans. Oh the music. Plus you can scroll back up and match some of these moments with the still images if you'd like. I enjoy seeing how live moments become still ones.
There is a small shoutout to be made to my buddy, Aaron Ortiz. Small world, and again proof of the power of social media keeping people connected: in 2012, I photographed the wedding of Nicole and Mark in New Jersey and one of their groomsmen was Aaron. He’s an avid hiker/adventurer in Colorado and beyond. He saw on Instagram that I was in New Orleans and reached out saying that he would be in the city in a few days. Our schedules overlapped and we were able to catch some jazz at Preservation Hall. At the 3:40 mark in the video you’ll see the sign for Preservation Hall, and hear me say, “…aaaand get you in it,” referring to getting Aaron in the shot. He gives a quick smile and thumbs up.
Hope you enjoy: