First, a comprehensive tour of NOLA — the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly, from the French Quarter to the Lower Ninth. New Orleans is deeply complex, but there’s an underlying structure to it. If you’re a beginner, we’re going to get you comfortable shooting a variety of things in a very wide variety of settings. If you’re a vet, I’m going to help you quickly find and hone in on what you’re looking for. In both cases, you’ll probably start the day intrigued and at least a little mystified by the city, and will end with a good working understanding of it.
Miss Irene, Central City
Shotgun, River Road, Near Donaldsonville
Rural southeastern Louisiana puts New Orleans into geographical, historical, social, cultural, racial, economic context + perspective. There are essentially two sides to the larger region: the river road, leading north, and roads that ultimately dead end in the Gulf, heading south. The first will give you a good idea of where we’ve been, and the latter will give you a clue of where we’re headed.
THE RIVER ROAD
The River Road is a bit like time travel, both forwards and backwards, at the same time. It’s host, basically, to five things, surreal in their juxtaposition:
1) the sixty-plus petrochemical plants which give the region its nickname, Cancer Alley
2) former plantations, now mostly well-oiled tourist machines
3) strikingly small, isolated, and mostly impoverished rural communities
4) weird old cemeteries
5) stark rural homesteads.
We’ll focus on what you’re into.
INTO THE GULF
Katrina Landfall Shack, Chef Menteur Highway
Louisiana loses a football field of land to the Gulf every 45 minutes. Since the 1930s, this adds up to an area roughly the size of Delaware. Science has given the reigon 100 years of survival, max, before it's swallowed by the sea. Exactly four roads lead out of New Orleans and into the Gulf. Most end anticlimactically in a gravel cul-de-sacs where wetland turns into brackish water. At the end of one, an 18th century Spanish fort can be seen in the distance offshore, almost completely submerged in water. On the way there are fishing communities, hunting camps, lingering remnants of Katrina, and fresh-caught catfish poboys.
Young Men Olympians S&P Club, September
An appropriately grand finale. To make two bold claims, secondline parades are probably the best photo-op in America, and the apex of New Orleans culture. Approximately 35 of 52 Sundays a year, Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs hold their anniversary parades through their home neighborhoods. Thousands of people and at least a few brass bands congregate for what’s essentially a four-hour ambulatory block party. They are my reason for living. We tramp through yards with beers in hand, shutting down major thoroughfares. The citizenry of New Orleans dances on top of whatever’s most unlikely. I’ve seen people dance on graves, burnt-out cars, cranes, porches, railroad crossings, car washes, the steeply-pitched roofs of Creole cottages, Chinese food joints, fried chicken chains, levee walls, the interstate, and numerous bus stops--and that’s just in the past year alone. You couldn’t invent a better situation to learn and practice street photography. The light, setting, and cast is constantly changing. It is the best way to experience New Orleans’ music, and the best deep walking tour of the city. Secondline Sundays guarantee one of the most memorable cultural experiences of your life.
And after dark?
Big Nine S&P Club, December 2015
At the end of the first and second days, we’ll review, edit, and print. If you’re new to Lightroom, Photoshop, and/or digital printing, we’re going to get your workflow up to speed very quickly.
We will also eat, drink, smoke cigars, listen to New Orleans music past and present, and generally geek out over photography. Depending on how many beers we drink, we’ll typically wrap up between 8-10pm. Saturday morning, we’ll get up early to capture morning light. By the third morning, there will be something you’ll want to return to — you’ll have until noon or so until the secondline. After the secondline, we’ll be completely whupped. We will either review images the next day over coffee, or, if you have to fly back to wherever you’re from, via Skype.