Wow what a year at French Quarter Fest 2018. Three amazing and beautiful days could not be overshadowed by one nasty, wet, and windy one. The festival ended up cancelling Saturday’s event, but we succeeded in still finding the magic during 3 days instead of 4. You might notice less images this year but the energy and moments are still evident.
Even though I am putting in over 10 miles walking per day for my client, French Quarter Festivals Inc, I always have one of those feet pointed toward my art. In order to capture the essence of an event such as French Quarter Fest, I have to be constantly scanning the streets of the French Quarter and looking everyone in the eye for that magic moment that is ABOUT to happen. I can’t be satisfied with what is happening, because by the time the shutter clicks that moment has left the world. I have to anticipate.
The compositions I find are actually years in the making. It takes years to understand and anticipate light, backgrounds, and personalities. I take great comfort in knowing I will never perfect it and every day is an adventure trying to chase…that….one….shot. I hope you enjoy my 2018 French Quarter Fest Gallery and join the chase with me…
I mostly use natural light to document a festival but there are times I need strobes to fill in shadows and equalize the overall exposure of an image. In the image above, and most from the Cajun/Zydeco stage, I utilize two mounted Paul C. Buff 1600 Alien Bees with reflectors. I am able to secure them with grip mounts to the poles on the stage truss. Using a Pocketwizard PlusX system I am fire them off on stage, and even when I am far from the performer giving me a great backlight!
So you might see alot of light that appears “not” natural and you are right, it isn’t. At festivals I usually have an assistant with me holding a Paul C. Buff strobe with a battery pack attached. This year my assistant, photographer/musician Chet Overall, had a 1600 White Lightning, Vagabond Battery, and a Beauty Dish on a stand and we used this when I shot street work. Having the added light to fill in shadows and create contrast really help solidify my style and vision.
Satchmo Summerfest rolls despite the standing water and soggy shoes.
Anyone in New Orleans knows “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show”…..and one severe storm event, only gives us another reason to parade when the sun comes back out. This is the constant reality here, we live here because we love it despite our geographical location from June to November. Storms, floods, and hurricanes are just another monkey on our back during these months but the show must go on.
There is nothing like a post storm second line in New Orleans, it’s like a rebirth, a second chance.
Satchmo Summerfest had to close early on Saturday but on Sunday, the St. Augustine Church opening day mass went on as scheduled, as did the second line led by the Treme Brass Band and the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club. I hope you enjoy the images below, I know I am behind on captions..they are still rolling in…just like this parade.
Before I even start to post images, I have to preface that most festival photography I do is a two way street of collaboration, happenstance, timing, and planning. The more I photograph a festival, the more I get in touch with how the many moving parts operate as individual creative cogs in the system, and how they work as a whole. French Quarter Festis one of my favorite events to photograph because there are so many passionate players that make up this system. The second liners, the brass bands, the costuming revelers, the musicians in each band, the food vendors, painters, and let’s not forget the festival organizers. Without EACH and EVERY one of those players acting, doing, performing to the BEST of their abilities for the time they are on stage, street, or on the schedule – none of my photographs get made. None of my photographs can be what they are here without the blood, sweat, and tears each person puts into doing their Best at the Fest. So – thank you to all who came out, showed up, and left it ALL out on the streets of New Orleans during French Quarter Fest 2017.
Amidst all the music, food, and culture of a New Orleans music festival, I still need to remember I am there for my client.
Throughout the year my clients and subjects are as diverse as the fish in the sea. I am constantly rotating between event photography, commercial portraiture, corporate and author head shots, and four glorious times of the year: festival photography in New Orleans. Each photographic genre and client are equally different, have different needs, and I must help them communicate their visual goals so I can be of value to their mission to their business and clients. But as with working with any client I need to be aware of the moving parts that make up the story so I can document it properly, while being true to my client’s needs and true to my creative vision. During a music festival all of these things often culminate into each and every image. As I walk from stage to stage the story changes and as the light changes my backgrounds evolve and my subjects continue to dodge and move.
The hardest part about photographing a music festival is that when you tap into a particular festival’s energy and story it is hard to pay attention to anything else. Sometimes that means you miss so much of the wonderful music. It is crazy to think that the number one reason so many thousands of people attend a festival is for the music, and through the many hours walking around each stage in front of the horns, the drums and voices galore I hear little. But in a wonderful way I see the music.
Can a photographer multi-task creatively as well as efficiently?
I am very grateful to have worked with so many great musicians and artists in New Orleans over the last 17 years that I get to photograph them in this manner. That is one of the reasons it is very important for me to keep my copyright and maintain my usage terms with each festival that I shoot so that I can provide the many hard working artists the ability to use the images I shoot to help their business and career. French Quarter Fest, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Satchmo Fest, and Voodoo Music and Arts Experience understand that. In a way, it’s great for them as well, seeing their stages and brand get used again and again to help promote the music. It really is one big family…
New Orleans is a small and vibrantly creative city, so it makes sense to help the others around you get better because in the end we all are affected positively when we help each other. I’m not sure how this translates to larger cities but I’m sure it’s the same. Be Nice, Do Good Work, and Stick Around!
The Society Brass Band warms up before the opening day march through the French Quarter.
Dancing Man 504 and Spidey 504 lead the 2nd Line Parade on opening day of French Quarter Fest 2017
Trumpeter Brice Miller leads the Mahogany Brass Band through the French Quarter to open French Quarter Fest.
Grand Marshall of the Mahogany Brass Band, Percy Ellis, leads the band through the French Quarter
The Mahogany Brass Band marches down Bourbon Street on opening day of the Festival. Band leader Brice Miller sings with trumpet in hand and head raised high.
A musician stands before the opening day parade for French Quarter Fest on St. Ann St. in the French Quarter.
Cedric Watson and Bijou Creole entertain on the Chevron Stage.
Aaron Neville performs on the Abita Beer Stage, this was his first French Quarter Fest show.
Drummer Simon Lott plays with singer Ingrid Lucia on the Jack Daniels stage. It was hard to choose which “Simon face” to show…probably the toughest edit decision ever! Thanks Simon!
New Orleans has it’s priorities straight: Music, Booze, and Church…the “other” Holy Trinity.
Clint Maedgen of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band walks amongst the shadows of his bandmates.
Ok it’s annoying, but I am guilty of it more than this guy…all day long.
Singer Nayo Jones opens up day two of French Quarter Fest on Friday, April 7th.
Big Chief Monk Boudreaux was the prettiest all weekend long on the Abita Stage.
This fest goer and her guy enjoy a cool snowball from Plum Street Snowballs.
Cedryl Ballou found where the camera guy was…
Cedryl Ballou was so grateful to the crowd and festival today on the Chevron Cajun/Zydeco Stage. And he let them know by putting in a great set of music!
Dr. Jimbo Walsh sounded so great with Washboard Rodeo on his bass Ukulele??
Neti Vann of Washboard Rodeo.
Matt Rhody of Washboard Rodeo.
aaaaaand Washboard Chaz of Washboard Rodeo.
Irma Thomas’s voice is still impeccable, deep, and with so much range. She sounded and looked fantastic.
Dancers at the Chevron Cajun/Zydeco stage.
LaTasha Covington on washboard amidst a sea of fans at the Cajun/Zydeco Stage.
Sunpie Barnes and LaTasha Covington of Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots
Mario Abney is a talented singer, trumpeter, drummer, and dancer! This set was one of my highlights from French Quarter Fest – Mario put on a clinic in almost every way and the crowd was with him every second!
Cory Henry took the night on with a killer band at the Jack Daniels stage. Twilight is always my favorite time to shoot at any festival, with only 15 minutes to create, you must be in position and be ready!
One of my favorite people around, Big Chief Juan Pardo, always knows where I will be without missing a beat. In the back row is another friend Danny Abel on guitar, and in front on trombone – bandleader Corey Henry.
Crowds await the chimes of St. Louis Cathedral to ring them in Saturday’s fest.
A swing dancing couple enjoy the sounds of Aurora Nealand’s band at the French Market Stage.
Valerie Sassafrass sings, dances, and entertains the crowd at the Palm Court. One of my highlights!
In demand tuba player Jon Gross plays with so many people during the day, a costume change is necessary.
504ever All Stars opened up the weekend at the famed Preservation Hall, ushering in the soul and spirit of an evolving music brass tradition in New Orleans.
Louis Michot of the Lost Bayou Ramblers plays to a sea of people at the Cajun/Zydeco Stage. By far my favorite stage to photograph was this one, maybe it’s my roots or the company.
Andre Michot of the Lost Bayou Ramblers. I had a blast using my Paul C. Buff Alien Bees on this stage as fill and back light. On rare occasions i got to use my Neutral Density filters and 35mm 1.4 lens @ 1.4. What a killer combo…
Luke Spurr Allen performs with the help of old friends Alex McMurray and Casey McAllister. These guys have been friends of mine for some time, I always enjoy watching these three – but today wasn’t long enough at all…
Here I got to use the full power of the Alien Bee strobe, well needed when the band is in shade. Amy, our stage manager, worked the crowd up for me for this shot. See, it really does take more than just one person to make a great photograph.
Dwayne Dopsie is one hell of a player, and mentor. He wasn’t afraid to share the spotlight with the next generation of musicians, and the crowd loved every minute of it.
Another reason why I love some side fill, in moderation though as the light can tend to get a little “hollywood” at times.
A hula hooper starts a “Hula Circle” at the Soul Rebels Saturday close out. Imaging a mosh pit, but smiling women with hula hoops. Same intensity, ferocity, and strength..but smiling you know? I know I am pushing my limits with ISO 4000 but when kept small it looks just fine.
I was captivated by this woman and her umbrella as she perused paintings during the Pirate’s Alley Art Contest display. What I soon realized was that she was looking through eventual winner Young Allen’s beautiful watercolors.
It’s time for music, Drew Simon of T’Monde allowed me a little “light test” action to get my strobes right at the Cajun and Zydeco Stage. Thanks Drew!
I am so happy i caught this moment! When musician, French Quarter resident and 2017 poster artist Tony Green’s set was underway, a special guest arrived. The man with the umbrella is featured in Tony’s second line that is this years poster, it was like life imitating art imitating life.
Poster artist and guitarist Tony Green talks to the crowd during his set at the Rouses Stage on Royal St. This is by far my favorite background to stage shoot at French Quarter Festival. Look at the corner back there…it’s amazing! I wish this stage had no cover, but that’s pretty selfish thinking…the musicians would cook! Anyway, Tony is talking not about his songs or painting, but about his band – “surround yourself with players better than you, it will make you better” Well said Tony, well said.
Rory Danger and the Danger Dangers played a brilliant set at the GE Capital Stage.
Aurora Nealand is Rory Danger and Rory is Aurora. It’s complicated…you gotta see their show to understand! Here Rory accepts the “Key to the Aquarium” from the Audubon Nature Institute….I am still not sure if all the animals are still there.
Always having fun, always clowning is Anthony Dopsie. He knows where I am as well as his brother Dwayne Dopsie and Anthony’s son Mike Dopsie in the background. I was loving my backlit strobes for this stage, I’m hooked!
I never will grow tired of shooting Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. His energy, enthusiasm, and respect for the crowd and culture goes without saying.
Two of my favorite people in the world are onstage right here playing together as the Joe Cabral Thrio: Joe Cabral and James Singleton. I think that attitude and grace in life are transferred to creativity and power on stage. These guys were my favorite set of the entire weekend. You can see how amazing the French Quarter stages provide the ultimate backdrop for using my 50mm and 35mm 1.4 lenses! LOVE.
Another wonderful human and drummer make up the 3rd in the Joe Cabral Thrio, Doug Garrison. Converging Lines anyone?
Joe Cabral Thrio play out to folks passing by.
Richard Anderson of the Kinfolk Brass Band and band mates await their call to the stage at the historic Preservation Hall.
Papa Mali sounded terrific at the Abita Stage during French Quarter Fest.
Washboard player Jayme Romain for Corey Ledet’s band had some unreal pipes as well as rhythm!
When is Jennifer Jones NOT looking amazing! I think she might be the most photographed New Orleans celebrity never credited! So if you have photographer her – send her pics! I can connect youl
It was an amazing moment when Rockin’ Dopsie Jr joined Corey Ledet on stage to close out the 2017 French Quarter Fest. Corey asked his whole band “except for the drummer, we gonna do it old school” to leave so they could have this moment. Amazing.
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Voodoo Fest Photographers Never Had it So Good in 2016.
Voodoo Fest 2016: A festival photographers dream? Low sun backlit dusty scenes during day and fog drenched textures at night. 2016 was a year in contrast for the Voodoo Music+Arts Experience where last year saw a cancelled day and sloggy conditions, while this last week was a blue sky paradise. I haven’t shot Voodoo Fest in any official capacity since that amazing October in 2005 when I shot for Antigravity. The city was still reeling from Hurricane Katrina, but the festival organizers made the show happen anyway.
About one week before the festival, Voodoo organizers called me up and asked if I’d shoot this year with the C3 team, the same photo team that shoots Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza and much much more. I was stoked, how could I say no? I have been so lucky as a music festival photographer in New Orleans to have deep ties to the 3 most amazing festivals in the city: French Quarter Festival, Jazz Fest, and now Voodoo Fest. I count my blessing…and I also count my steps:
Oct 28th – 20,626 steps
Oct 29th – 16,512 steps
Oct 30th – 7,480
As you can see, the first day of Voodoo I was finding my way, covering alot of ground and getting the feel of the fest. By the third day I was running less in circles and more A->B.
Enjoy my favorite festival photographs from this years Voodoo Music+Arts Experience!
I am always looking for the “magic” moment – when subject, background, composition and story come together in a way that sings of a depth way beyond first glance. I am always observing the moment when documenting a music festival in New Orleans, but I am always keeping a keen eye out for what may happen next, or what could happen if all goes right. Aside from my duties to my client to tell the story of their event, I am always trying to find the deeper layers to any moment and get “one for me”.
Every day at the Satchmo Fest 2016 had it’s highlights and here I’ll show you mine…
If you’ve followed this blog you’ve seen my favorites of each day. Here are the links again to Friday, and Saturday. Here in this blog post are some more photographs from each of those days plus my best from Sunday. I hope you enjoy this post and if you do – please share this link to your friends, pages, and your blog!
On Friday morning, New Orleans found out it lost two of it’s favorite sons, but we raised a glass and sung as one when the day was done.
With so many icons of music, culture, art and life that live amongst us in New Orleans it’s not uncommon to mourn the loss of a great artist during the celebrations of a music festival. With so many festivals (152 a year said Jeremy Cooker of the NOTMC) one is likely to raise a glass and second line at the same time families and friends mourn a loved ones passing. This weekend New Orleans and the world lost not one, but two of our treasured son’s: world famous and locally loved clarinetist Pete Fountain, and gospel singer and iconic Tipitina’s doorman Jo “Cool” Davis.
The music, the laughter, the camaraderie, it all came to pass today. We miss our beloved sons and we hold them on our heavy hearts, but we dance and sing as they would want us to. You could feel it and hear them in the dense summer heat. Clarinet sways, gospel croon – Pete and Jo were in the air and we were all there. Enjoy some of my photographs of joy and love from Day 2 at Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans, LA.
Satchmo stalwart and all around good guy Yoshio Toyama kids around with Freddie Lonzo.
The Trumpet of Wendell Brunious, the finger of Freddie Lonzo.
Jane Harvey Brown serenades the crowd with “La Vie en Rose” in french.
Benny Jones, leader, of the Treme Brass Band start out their Kid’s 2nd Line from the Cabildo.
Long time stage manager Eric B and his new wife accept a wedding cake from Satchmo staff.
Topsy Chapman and Solid Harmony take some time out to pose for a fan. (me)
There’s so much to do and see at Satchmo Fest, as seen by this crowd of onlookers.
Juggling and playing a cowbell is how Charmaine Neville STARTS her set…not surprised here.
Every body deserves a break after a long day, this guy is still all smiles after all that heat…
Even though I don’t photograph nearly as much festivals as I used to, I always look forward to shooting the ones I do on a regular basis. Up until the last few years I was shooting pretty frequently, on staff at Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest (see my best of 2016), and Satchmo Fest but also shooting portraits and live sets at Voodoo Music Experience, Chaz Fest and many other events around town. Since I peeled back on the festival photography to concentrate more on other photographic avenues, I really only get fired up for one festival…Satchmo Summerfest.
Satchmo Summer Fest has purpose, it has history, and it has the genius, kindness, and musical guidance of one visionary that is forever linked to New Orleans: Louis Armstrong.
The first day of photographing a festival for me now is all about getting my “fest eyes and legs”
Many New Orleans photographers I know in the music industry continue to shoot music festivals year-round like Lollapalooza, Hangout Fest, Bonnaroo, ACL, and others. I don’t envy them though, it’s really hard work, but I do wish I didn’t hurt so much after Day 1 of a fest! The hustle routine of shooting a festival is sometimes a challenge doing all that walking for ten hours straight, pounding waters, and eating and walking.
Satchmo Fest photography for me is more than just capturing the music, it’s about my clients needs on a promotion, sponsorship, and operational level.
Aside from photographing the musicians at Satchmo Fest I also have duties to capture the operations layout (placements of stages, barricades, trash cans, food booths, etc) sponsorships (sponsor signs, banners, and VIP’s), crowd flow, and a multitude of various duties that have nothing to do with a guitar solo or brass band second line. But who wants to look at that stuff anyway? Enjoy some of my favorites from Day 1 and be on the lookout for the full Satchmo Fest 2016 Photo Gallery on Monday, August 8th right here on the blog!
The official “front door” of Satchmo Fest
Scarlett puts the finishing touches on Louis Armstrong’s big litup birthday cake
I ate at Palmer’s food booth 3 times on Friday…their Jerk Chicken combo is FINE!
The Preservation Hall Brass Band relax in the shade before their opening set at Satchmo 2016
The Preservation Hall Brass Band relax in the shade before their opening set at Satchmo 2016
Greg Davis and Kirk Joseph kid around pre-set at Satchmo Fest 2016
Dirty Dozen Brass Band at the Red Beans and Riceley Yours Stage at Satchmofest 2016
The Tornado Brass Band cool off with a few cold Abita Jockamo IPA’s before their set
Bill Summers Jazzsalsa perfom at the Red Beans and Riceley Yours Stage at Satchmofest 2016
The Soul Rebels Brass Band were nice enough to pose for a portrait!
The sun sets behind the clouds and St. Louis Cathedral…Abita Beer tent smiles.
Big Sam’s Funky Nation closed out the opening night at Satchmo Summerfest 2016
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