Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 9

It's about time to check out, so I'm posting one last and final blog before I pack up my compute and head out the door. Its been an interesting experience these past 9 days, and I finally got my pictures made. Now I get to go home and take a much need break. Excited for the up coming weekend to spend time with the family up at the lake.

For those of you who don't know, our project is not totally finished. From here, we edit and prepare to make a book of photographs that we made on this trip. We are also going to be having a gallery show of our work from New Orleans Sept 10th at the Dunn Bros grand opening in the Minneapolis Library. Unfortunately it was scheduled the same ay that I will be flying out of town to San Fransico, but A book of my work will be made, and I might be able to still get some of my photos up at the show for people to see.

But anyways, It's now time to shut down the computer and say good bye, for now. I don't know if i'll get another chance to make it back down to the Big Easy, but with the photographs I have taken from the trip, it will be hard to forget.

Day 8

It's our last night here and I am really excited to get back home. It's been a long 9 days but I feel I was really able to get outside of my comfort zone and make some good photographs. I tried food I never thought I would try in my life, and met some people that really helped move my project along. We fly out tomorrow evening at 5:45 and are scheduled to land back in Minneapolis around 9ish. It's a short blog this time, but I'll sum it up by saying thanks to all of the people in New Orleans, especially Fritzel's Bar, for helping me out with my photo essay. It is greatly appreciated!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 7

We are now less than 48 hrs. away from leaving New Orleans and coming home. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little excited. All though it has been fun, I'm anxious to get home and see some familiar faces and places.

Today, I took a well needed day off. Plus, Sundays aren't the busiest days in New Orleans for music. I woke up at 12 and didn't leave the hotel until about 8 p.m.. Mostly because of my sun burn. It is the worst sun burn that I can remember. I wanted to wait until the sun went down before I would even think about stepping out in this southern heat. So around 8, a friend of mine and I headed out down Bourbon St. to see what was up. There was nothing. If you ever want to see Bourbon St. completely dead, go on a Sunday night. I think I will have to see what tomorrow brings, and hopefully I can shoot again. However, we did manage to make it down to our favorite club in N.O., Fritzel's Bar, for a Coke and some good tunes.

I was a little curious tonight because on their website it said the Kotton Mouth Kings were playing tonight. I wouldn't have guess that a band like that would ever place at such a small venue, especially one that prides themselves on strictly only playing traditional New Orleans jazz. But when we got there, it was a jazz band that lost one of their members so they renamed themselves Kotton Mouth Kings. I wonder how long that name will be able to last.

Its another early night, but tomorrow I plan on shooting again and hope to take some photos of the bands outside of their performance. I'll cross my fingers for now.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 6

Where do I begin? Well, at 9:00 AM we got up a drove to Bay St. Louis, Missouri and hung out at the beach on the Gulf of Mexico. It was fun to get away from our projects a bit, but I think we were gone for too long. Everyone, including me, got more red than the best looking apples at your local grocery store. I am writing this blog in pure pain, and am not too excited about it. I can't wait to see how I feel in the morning. Shower? probably not.

After we got back, we were all unmotivated to do anything. It hurt to even go outside, even when we were covered up. The heat was way too much on our sun burns. But, I wanted to try and make it to the Palm Court Cafe on Decatur St. tonight to try and photograph a trumpet player named Lionel Ferbos that I heard a lot of really good things about. I was really excited all week to photograph him because he would have fit perfectly in my project but unfortunately enough for me, the 97 year old trumpet player told me that the only way I could photograph him was if there was money involved. That statement to me seemed like it came out of left field. I was kind of shocked to get that response. I think I should just stick with Fritzel's Bar. They seemed to have the best traditional music, environment, and people by far in the entire city. Much thanks goes out to the Fritzel's Band and Bar staff for their generosity. I would strongly suggest, if you ever visit New Orleans, Fritzel's Bar on Bourbon Street is the place to be; Hands down.

We then decided to leave the cafe and bring my backpack back to the hotel so I didn't have to carry it around all night on sunburnt shoulders and back. We were only out for about a couple of hours, but then headed back to the hotel for the fact that the sun took everything out of us today. Sorry I don't have any images to post. It was just one of those days I guess. But without the bad, you don't get the good. Hope tomorrow goes better, but for how bad I got sunburnt, I think I want to stay inside all day. Minnesota, I miss you. See you all soon.

Day 5

Today started out slow, but ended up being a pretty fun experience. I really stepped out of my boundaries and really enjoyed some new things. I was asked to tag along with a fellow student to help assist him with his project. We got to go to one of the fire stations in St. Bernard Parish, and hang out and photograph them, which I must say, Nick got some pretty amazing shots. click on his link on my page to check them out. Hopefully he posts them soon.

The first thing we did when we got there was eat. Nick told me ahead of time that they would be cooking for us, and it was going to be boiled shrimp. I was like...Crap! I hate shrimp, however, I later found out that it's only non-fresh-Minnesota-shrimp that I don't like. It was the most amazing meal yet! The firefighters cooked about 30 pounds of fresh shrimp, potatoes, sausages, corn cobs, and a bunch more and through it all into a bucket and boiled it. It was spicy and amazing; full of flavor. I was scared to try the shrimp at first because it came head and all. They had to show me how to tear of the head, then tear the shell, then slide the meat out; it was pretty insane, but tasted amazing! Who would have thought? We also got to go with on a call, which was kind of exciting to see. It wasn't anything too serious though, which was good. A Man was just having trouble breathing.

After his shoot was up, we headed back into town to work on my stuff. We knew the band I shot last Wed at Fritzel's Bar was playing again, so we had to check them out. Amazing musicians and we all had a blast! I posted a couple more pictures of them below, as well as one image from one of the cemeteries we visited earlier today.

Tomorrow we head out to St. Louis Bay early in the morning, so I'm going to head to bead and catch some shut eye. Catch you all later!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 4

Today was a pretty relaxing day. Got to sleep in, and then I just kind of hung out for the most part. We had a critique of our photos with a guest critic, which was the director of curator services at Louisiana State Museum named Tony Lewis. We also took a tour of the Ogden Museum where I later returned to photograph a jazz band that was performing there.

After that, we just wanted to have fun. So, I grabbed my camera, some friends, and headed down Bourbon St. We ran into a Brass band named We Are One Brass Band. I talked with their trumpet player named Gale. Below are some photos from the band. I hope to catch them again while I am in town. Talk to you later!

Day 3

What a day! It was another long one, but it has also been the best yet so far on this trip. We started the day off great by taking a tour of the Times Picayune, the local New Orleans newspaper with a photography staff of award winning photographers. We were able to split into groups and follow one of the staff photographers for the day. Me and two others got to tag along with Rusty Costanza. What a great guy, and he told us a lot good info along the way. One thing I will remember from Rusty is when he said, "Sometimes the best action is the reaction to the action". I thought that was a great piece of advice and made me really think about the entire environment of a shoot or place, and not just the main subject.

I have to say my favorite part of the tour was going to the New Orleans Saints training field to photograph some of the team with kids from the YMCA. Michael Lewis, from the New Orleans Saints, did an amazing job interacting with the kids and making the whole event a fun one for eveyone.

The tour ended by 4pm and we headed back to the hotel. I was a bit nervous for the fact I was lacking on photos for my project, however, after meeting up with some bar tenders on Bourbon St., i felt a lot more confident. Especially when they said they wouldn't mind me taking photos of the bands. I shot street bands, brass bands, but the best band by far for tonight had to be the Fritzel's jazz band at Fritzel's Bar on Bourbon St. The band was amazing and was packed with amazing musicians playing nothing but 100% New Orleans traditional jazz music. Below are a few photos from tonight. Hope you all enjoy, and I will be back tomorrow to post again. Until next time, peace!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 2

Like Monday morning, today was yet another early one for the crew. We got up at 5:15AM for a sun rise photo shoot over in the upper ninth ward of New Orleans. It is insane on how much it looked as though Katrina just hit the city a month ago. Houses were abandoned, some torn all apart, and a lot still had spray paint markings on them from when they were inspected by officials in search for missing people. It was a short little hour long shoot until the sun light got too harsh and we headed in for breakfast.

After we settled down a bit from our early morning shoot. Me and three other students set off to meet with a man named Robert Green, who live in the lower ninth ward. Robert Green, a St. Olaf Alumni, talked with us, shared stories with us, and shared his experience with us about Katrina for the hour or so we were able to be there. His house was located right behind one of the major levies the broke due to a barge smashing into it. Robert, as of now, still lives in a FEMA trailer after 4 years of the disaster, however, his new home which was being built next door as we were talking with him, should be ready to go for him to move into in the next 2 or 3 weeks. Robert is one of the most interesting guys I have every spoke with, and I was bummed we had to call it quits so soon. I really hope to come back soon, and see Robert's new place sometime!

After our visit with Robert, I came back to the hotel and had a nice long break until my shooting started for my project. I met up with an amazing musician I met through a friend named John Rankin. I haven't heard a guitar played so well before! It was an awesome experience listening to John play at the Columns Hotel. He was accompanied by a clarinet and saxophone player named Tom Fischer, and that really gave the sound of the New Orleans flavor that you would expect to hear. It was a great two hour long set and I am looking forward to popping in John's CD and getting his music onto My iPod. John also was able to give me some great tips on other places to go in New Orleans for jazz, and also told me some musicians to look up. I'm hoping to meet up with more real soon and continue on with my photo essay.

For now, I'm heading off to bed. I get to sleep in a little tomorrow morning so I want to take advantage of that. We will meet up with photographers from the local newspaper in town, and go out and see places in New Orleans that would be good places to shoot for our projects. It's going to be a long day, so I'm going to catch some shut eye and I'll get back to you all tomorrow! Enjoy some of the pictures from our sun rise shoot for now!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 1

2 Hours of sleep, 2 plane rides, 2 Advil's.
But you know what? I finally made it down to the Big Easy, and let me tell you, it is Hot!!!
I'm not going to lie, my first glance of New Orleans was not exactly what I had in mind. I cant really explain what I did have in mind, but to me, it felt different. Not in a bad way, but I just had a picture in my head from all the previous videos on New Orleans and created a different image in my head of the city; if that makes any sense.

Today has been a long day of traveling, and right when we got in, we got started getting to know this city we will call home for the next nine days. We Checked into the Country Inn just about a block or so from the french quarter and made Mother's our place to eat for some po boys. It was pretty delicious. We then got onto our greyhound bus and took a two and half hour long bus tour through New Orleans and learned more about the destruction and the times of Hurricane Katrina. It was one thing to see on screen, but to actually visit the city and get a glimpse for myself was so surreal.

We are now off to meet up for our first meeting to discuss plans on how we are going to go about our projects while we are down here. Although my contacts have been slim, I'm still very optimistic about my photo essay and looking forward to the people I will meet in the Big Easy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

When The Levees Broke

When the Levees Broke, a Documentary by Spike Lee, follows the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It's a 4-hour DVD pact full with blood, sweat, and tears. The film goes right to your heart and you instantly want to get up and do your part to help in someway.

While watching this film, questions where constantly running through my head. Why did the President wait 2 weeks before heading to New Orleans? Where was FEMA? Why would the Corps of Engineers build a levee that they knew would be unsafe? Just to name a few. It reminded me a little about 35W and how the bridge collapse. No one paid any attention to the kinks in the construction of the bridge, until it collapsed and people died. Is that what it takes is people dying before fixing problems. They don't want to spend the money to fix something in the first place, but then spend billions more fixing the damages.

At first I thought to myself, people are mad at Bush for waiting two weeks before coming to New Orleans. Let’s say he came the day after, what could he have done? Well that’s easy; he could have shown that he actually gave a rat's ass about what just happened in our home country. A Tsunami happens in Sri Lanka and we’re there in a day, and when the Nations biggest natural disaster happens, it takes two weeks. What kind of country do we live in? The crazy thing is that I know that there are places in New Orleans that look as though Katrina happened yesterday.

Before watching this film, I knew Katrina was a horrible event that took place and thought about the people in New Orleans constantly after the storm hit the coast, however, I never had more sorrow in my heart than I did after watching this film. It really makes me feel thankful for what I have.

Hearing the stories of the people that survived the storm was like hearing someone talking about a horror film they just got done watching. I mean, does this really happen? Can this really happen? Stories about children finding their parents dead in their homes, and parent hearing about their kids being found washed up somewhere. What an awful thing to go through, and to just think of all the post dramatic stress these families will carry with them. It's an awful thing to think about.

After watching this film, you respect for the citizens of New Orleans increases, and increases, and increases. These people are strong people and show that nothing can take the spirit of New Orleans away from them. Not the government, not FEMA, and not even a category 5 hurricane.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The True Meaning of Pictures

We were given the assignment to watch another film. This time, it was not about New Orleans. This time, it was a film titled, "The True Meaning of Pictures". It's a film/documentary about a photographer named, Shelby Lee Adams, and his series of photographs that he has taken over the last 30+ years with a family in Appalachia, and is a great example on how others may view or think about your work.

For years, Appalachia has been given the stereotype of being "hillbilly" country. Films in the past like Deliverance have given Americans a one sided view on how the people in Appalachia live. Making them seem violent, and a community built on incest. I feel personally that Adams had good intentions to try and turn that stereotype around for the better.

Throughout the series of images, and the film, I feel that Adams does a great job documenting the life style of the people in Appalachia. However, from an outsider looking in, I can see why people could get offended by some of his work. For instance, in one of Adam's shots, they practiced a traditional pig feast. They brought in a pig, shot it, gutted it, and cooked it. Now the thing that got me was that fact that this was something that was done in the past. Adam's had the idea to reenact this tradition, and by doing this, gave the impression of the stereotype these people already had.

The placement of his models also got me concerned a little. I know he had good intentions, and that he felt as though that he was just making a beautiful image, but when you know that most of your viewers are not of a lifestyle such as the ones in Appalachia, people are going to wonder, "Why would you place that beautiful little girl in front of a broken screen porch with a dirty old man staring at her from behind.” To them it's probably not out of the ordinary, however, I can see where people were thinking, "why couldn't he have moved her to a place that would really show off her beauty?”

All in all, this was a great film to watch, and really opened up your eyes on how others may view your work. It also makes you think about what messages your viewers will get from the images you release. I feel that Adam's is an honest man and is photographing people or a lifestyle that is close to his heart. He's received permission from his models for every photo released, and is accepted into their society, which I feel gives him every right to be accurately documenting the events taking place in Appalachia.