…the good thing about shooting street photography in New Orleans is that you never really lose the laser focus – you just have to hear the right trumpet lick (bah da da dah!!) and you fall in line…just like the band.”
I drove hurriedly through the uptown New Orleans side streets to get to the Lyons Center, worried and wondering. Wondering if I had all the gear I needed. Did I have film, my polaroid back, my lights, were my batteries charged, and was I going to get there on time? Worried that what if my lack of street shooting in the recent years would render my eye rusty and my vision slow to capture the right angles of the 90th year of marching of the Prince of Wales SAPC? No pressure, yeah right!
Remembering to “TAKE MY OWN DAMN ADVICE” I made a checklist, and kept it simple: two lenses, one light, Hasselblad and a Canon and one bag to hold them all. Kind of like the Lord of the Rings for photography…ok nerd alert…I digress…
I was grateful to be able to do portraits of the members in the gym before they exited to the streets, where I got an amazing behind the scenes look at this amazing group. Seeing what they see from the inside, side, and back of the line – the faces and phones held erect in joy and rapid fire digital snaps…
POW business manager and member, Stanley Taylor makes his smokin’ exit the only way he knows how.
About ten years ago I stopped the mad hustle to shoot EVERY second line and parade and focused my view and story on The Prince of Wales. I became good friends with two members and I felt I could do more for them and their crew in the long run by giving them my full attention. In the last few years after my business picked up and my daughter was born, I was going out shooting less on the streets so I had reason on this day to be a little apprehensive. But for me, the good thing about shooting street photography in New Orleans is that you never lose the laser focus – you just have to hear the right trumpet lick (bah da da dah!!) and you fall in line, just like the band and everyone else.
I saw the usual suspects, characters, hanger ons, and my photographer crew – tried and true. Mastro, Eric Waters, Pableaux, Judy Cooper, Buddah and many others. It felt good – and I am so honored to bring you these photos of the 90th Marching of the Prince of Wales Social Aid and Pleasure Club from New Orleans, Louisiana on Sunday, October 14th 2018.
What a wonderful feeling of community today during the solar eclipse! Although New Orleans did not get a total eclipse, this rare celestial event brought out around 250 long lunch breakers young and old. There were so many people outside sitting in circles, laughing, hugging and clapping. When’s the next one?
I had more fun passing out eclipse glasses and letting people borrow my prism than you can imagine. I saw some amazing photographs of the sun, and even more awesome DIY viewing boxes! The New Orleans creative spirit shone through well before the solar eclipse began with locals assembling at Lafayette Square Park in the Central Business District. Pinhole cardboard boxes, pinhole paper plates, and even the young couple holding their hands together viewing the eclipse’s ground shadow.
Our Solar Eclipse Photography Meet Up Made The News!
“So – I had been there, and I know what it’s like to have a grand idea that was mine and mine alone grow from the spark of inspiration. I know what it’s like to drop all reason, lose the concept of time and rush to create, only to have no tools construct, no foundation to begin the structure…” quote from Zack at Pecha Kucha Night New Orleans, June 29th, 2017
Pecha Kucha New Orleans allowed me to gain insight on my own photography and I am grateful.
“Progress is knowing that you just showed someone that the story of them Is the most important factor in their success as a visual communicator…” – PK NOLA 6/29/17
I was recently asked to participate as a presenter at Pecha Kucha Night New Orleans (check them out HERE)and I jumped at the chance to show my photographs and speak on a the topic of Progress. My version of progress is different than most might think. For me it’s not “forward progression” or “momentum” that defines PROGRESS. Progress is something that is attained inside the self, inside the community, inside the heart and mind. I’d like to share my speech and images here. I will send a link to the video when it’s posted.
I’ve always loved a good story. My dad told stories so well you didn’t know what was real and what was true but it was all story, and you loved it. As a visual communicator, I love a good story more now that I get to tell the story of others. It is a challenge but i love what I do. I get to read in between the lines of dreams and emotions and pull the story from someone’s head and heart and show it to them.
So my story over the last 15 years I has sounded like a skipping record to myself, repeating these photographic philosophies I have made to help those that want to learn how to see like the camera sees.
“Shoot for the Wall”
“Intention in Capture vs Purpose in Presentation”
“Know the Why in each Exposure and find the Story”
“We don’t take snapshots, we make great photographs”
“Be a Student of Light”
Progress for me is seeing someone in the act of learning and seeing their mind in the awe of grasping a new concept. Owning it, and finally GETTING IT. There’s no greater feeling than seeing that light bulb go off in someone’s head…It starts as an ember glow, a hint of hope, a silent gasp that erupts into a confident creative tool that is sharp and ready to use
Not until I learned how to intentionally practice empathy and truly put myself in someone else’s confused, inquisitive, and thirsty mind did I see how to relate the concept of shutter speed, aperture, and focal length, Rear sync, shutter drag, bokeh, key light, rim light, chiaroscuro, and perspective as it relates to learning photography.
But at one time, I had no fucking clue. I only knew that my words needed the visual. I HAD to make photographs and I still do believe that this is my calling, why I was born or put here on this earth.
So – I had been there, so I know what it’s like to have a grand idea that was mine and mine alone grow from the spark of inspiration. I know what it’s like to drop all reason, lose the concept of time and rush to create, only to have no tools construct, no foundation to begin the structure.
I remember what it was like to be driven and to drive your life not knowing where the hell you were going. I was mentoring with any photographer that would take me on assisting in the field, the darkroom, and even discussion the how’s and why’s of a particular photo. I was driven by the thirst for knowledge and the passion for growth. I sacrificed much, taking the only bathroom in my college apartment and turning it into a chemical darkroom to learn how to process film and print. I learned by doing, i learned by messing up, roll after roll after roll of film hanging in my apartment bathtub on clothespins and string
Teaching photograpy for me was a way to constantly remind myself that I came from the same place as so many inquiring minds and creative souls that don’t know where they’re going but don’t care, as long as there’s a story to be told, and photographed to be put on a wall.
So I kept teaching, putting myself in their shoes and in the process I was in turn learning the life lessons myself as I was watching and teaching others. I started to take my own advice to go inward in my own creative self and for me progress didn’t mean Upward, Onward and Some sort of success ….
Means to make every composition count – own every mm of space on that piece of film or sensor and make your foreground, background, and subject make sense. We only put our best images on a wall…so why not shoot w/ the intention of making a print.
“Intention in Capture / Purpose in Presentation”
To make a great photograph we must know the WHY – why are we choosing this subject, in this place, with this light? Is this the moment of capture or is there a better one? Have we studied our environment, have we lived a day in our subjects shoes, do we know if the rays of of a backlit sun could provide better depth?….We must be students of our subjects and masters of it’s light.
Through teaching others I have realized that Progress isn’t about what new piece of gear you own, how many clients you have, who you photographed where and “if they Tweeted about it using your name and OMG i have 5 new followers!!”
Progress isn’t about being #1, being the best, or at the top of your game
Progress isn’t ONWARD UPWARD FORWARD
Progress is feeling a connection inside to another human being.
Progress is being confident in the tools of your own creativity.
Progress is knowing that you just showed someone that the story of them Is the most important factor in their success as a visual communicator as their story will be the fuel to find their “WHY” to shoot for their WALL.
In my 15 years teaching photography I have been asked alot of questions, and most beginning photographers want to learn the basics: how to shoot manual exposure, how to get that blurry background, and “how do I see like my camera sees?”. But once a year around Mardi Gras in New Orleans photographers want to know how to photograph some of the most difficult types of subject yet: moving objects in low light. In order to best educate those that want to know how to photograph low light moving objects, I try to bring my photography workshop participants on a journey through time and space to a land of Aliens, Chewbaccas, Yoda’s, and fantastic floats in the Bywater. You guessed it: The International Krewe of Chewbaccus Parade.
Each year we are over the moon interstellar-ly excited that the IKOC lets us peer into their amazing world of Wookies, spaceships, and Star Wars revelry. The costumes and floats in this parade are truly one of a kind and “Only in New Orleans”. Each year this workshop is a joy to photograph and be a part of something memorable.
I have been photographing Mardi Gras Parades in New Orleans since 2000 and has marched in more parades than I cares to remember (or can). For this parade we begin at the secret headquarters of the IKOC to document over 100 krewes and sub-krewes as they prepare themselves and their floats for the exciting route. We follow the Krewe as they wind through the crowd filled streets of the city, finding the perfect vantage points to tell the best story of the parade and our great city!
How to photograph a Mardi Gras parade? First; focus on what you know, and go from there.
My suggestion to anyone wanting to get better at photographing Mardi Gras parades, or any marching, dancing, or moving entity, is to first shoot what you know. As a portrait photographer I usually see the faces and emotion before I see the big picture landscape scenes. I will walk up to people and ask if I can photograph them, and either capture a portrait or just a candid of them soon after. This way I can get comfortable approaching single people and then on to larger groups.
Photograph wide open in the waning day hours, then increase your ISO when the night falls…
When the sun sets, usually fast, on a parade that usually means you are not too far off from beginning your march. If you are marching with the parade, like we were for the Chewbaccus workshop, you can get accustomed to the speed of the crew and get your settings right. After the twilight hour has settled in, you notice that the artificial light has taken over as your dominant light source (or key light) for the rest of the parade. Whereas earlier you had the sunlight to light your portraits, now you have random, blinking, and sometimes glowing light sources. Difficult, yes. Impossible, never. Says Yoda.
Some Tips for Photographing in Low Light:
First of all you have to assume that all rules apply when trying to capture the sharpest photographs in low light:
1. You and your camera Must be Stable – taking your time to compose each shot and standing still at each exposure will ensure that you are not moving and making your images even softer by adding blur! Stay Still!
2. Turn ON Vibration Reduction and Image Stabilizer – most newer lenses and zoom lenses come equipped with VR/IR to help stabilize the lens when you are moving ever so slightly. This feature does NOT stabilize or help freeze the subject you are shooting. Remember that!
3. Move at the Speed of your Subject – I find that if you are shooting at shutter speeds of 1/30 – 1/4 it helps if you are moving at the speed of your subject. This will help keep your subject sharp but blur the background which can result in some crazy cool movement!
Enjoy this Gallery from Chewbacchus 2017! SHARE this post with friends in the Krewe!
This last week I have been all over New Orleans photographing her most glamorous avenues and rich colorful green spaces. My first goal was to try and lock down a few key locations for a client I am shooting some marketing work for. In the midst of shooting location photographs I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time when the light was just perfect, and the players of this great city were in line. You all know when the angles come together, the people file in, the bell rings, and you know it’s time to shoot? Well, it was one of those weeks…I hope you enjoy this photo gallery from City Park and St. Charles Avenue.
No flowers here..but I had to add this image of a construction worker at Oretha Castle Haley. It’s moments like these when I wish I had my camera on me at all times!!!
In preparation for my latest NOLA @ Night French Quarter and City Park photography workshop, I walked the French Quarter with my 35mm 1.4 prime and had a blast. I noticed that shadows play a big part in the quarter whether or not the sun is out, or the night is in full effect. There is also something very liberating when confined to see in only one focal length…here’s what I saw
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