New Orleans Bride magazine held another vendor social at The Cannery on Toulouse. I had yet to make it to The Cannery, so it was great to see another venue in the city. This is a place that seems well arranged to host weddings (as opposed to a place that sort of just decided to start hosting weddings). It's got a long entry way, a big open area for the main party, and little nooks with couches where people can break off and sit down. Hopefully I'll get back here in the fall for a wedding!
I stopped by the Ace Hardware in New Orleans to shoot some of their products for advertisements. A few products were tossed up as options, but as soon as I saw the colors on this cookware I jumped at it. Clean, bright, colorful - I could picture this stuff in my kitchen. I'm sure my wife could picture it in our kitchen as well. Maybe I should hide this picture. :)
I'll be in Ohio shooting a couple of summer weddings in July. Flights have been booked. Plans have been made to see old friends and spend time with the family. See you in a couple of weeks, Columbus.
While doing some spreadsheet work today I did a quick sum and discovered that I've now covered over 150 events for St. Charles Avenue magazine. Getting dressed up and going all over the city to see people working their butts off for charity has been both fun and eye opening as to all the different causes that need support. It would be amazing to get a dollar figure on just how much money has been raised at all of these events. When ticket prices go for upwards of $300 each, the sum is very easily in the millions. Keep doing good things - I'll keep taking the pictures. Here are just a few of the things I've seen.
The March of Dimes has a fancy event in New Orleans that I've somehow managed to attend as a guest or as a hired photographer for the last four or five years. They get a bunch of successful young people together and have them assemble packages of donated stuff for people to bid on. Think trips, luxury spa treatments, meals at great restaurants, etc. This year I got to do the group shots for a magazine profile that's done prior to the event. Shooting the people is cool and all, but the real fun here was shooting inside the Saint Hotel, which recently opened on Canal St. It's got a restaurant with white leather (fake leather?) booths, a lobby pool table, a giant chair to play on, and a swanky hotel bar. How's about a game of billiards for charity? Don't mind if I do.
I had to get a cover shot for Acadiana Profile Magazine, and here's the result of one very long day on the road photographing restaurants. We might've ruined a few pizza doughs in the process of getting this shot. :)
I got to visit Longwood in Natchez, MS, a massive octagonal mansion on which the construction was halted with the outbreak of the Civil War. With only the lower level finished, the upper floors remain in the same state they were in over 150 years ago. Apparently the deal between the current and past owners required that it remain unfinished, giving visitors a rare glimpse into the past. The workmen's tools are still laying around. A few of the shipping crates, including a massive one for the house's piano, serve as the only furnishings on the first level. In it's unfinished state, you can stand in the center of the house and make yourself dizzy looking straight up through the next six stories worth or lumber and rafters. I can't think of a better setting for a ghost story; something where you can hear workers' saws and civil war gunfire after the sun goes down. I'd stay there overnight... I swear.
The Freret St. Boxing Gym periodically hosts what I can only describe as a spectacle. They call it Friday Night Fights, but it's really a big mix of fighting, drinking and eating contests, celebrity impersonators, good musicians, cross dressing entertainers, and amateur round card girl (and guy) contests, among other things. The fights draw one of the most diverse crowds I've ever seen in one small area - age, race, gender - all suddenly agreeing with each other because of this eclectic mix of entertainment. I got hooked up to photograph the fights and got a ringside seat to the madness. Can't wait for the next one.
We took an afternoon trip down to Key West to unwind after a day of shooting. I like cats and I like reading, so soon enough we ended up at the Hemingway house, surrounded by offspring of his pets. I never went through a major Hemingway phase in high school or college like some guys I know, but after getting a little more of his life story, I can understand the draw. He was a man's man; a hunter, a fisherman, a hard drinking wounded war veteran with a slew of personal problems. I'm imagining his original cats hitting the saucer pretty hard at the local tavern while swapping stories about claw scars and great bird hunts. The current feline occupants are extremely tame and I got to rub many a kitty's belly while I was there.
To the surprise of many, I was in a fraternity in college. If you're conjuring up images of John Belushi right now, just stop. Think instead of a large collection of smart, well balanced, student leaders. Damn stereotypes... But it was in the fraternity that I met Drew, and I was excited that he contacted me several years after graduation to ask me to photograph his wedding. Not just any wedding though, this one was in the Florida Keys. I had a stop in the Keys on my honeymoon cruise and was grateful for the chance to go back. Drew and Kristen had the run of Hawks Cay on Duck Key, one of those big resorts where everything seems too nice for me. A quick ceremony followed by a great party is the way to go. More than half the wedding guests met up for dinner on another island the next day which made for a great end to the event. I look forward to my next destination wedding, even more so if it's with old friends.
If you need to spend the night in Lafayette, enjoy staying up late, and like unique and intimate music venues, then check out the Blue Moon Saloon. It has a hostel-like atmosphere, being that it's just a house that was converted to commercial use. There are a few rooms to choose from, all of which will leave you less than 20 feet from where the bands play in the evenings. We stayed in the room that shares a wall with the stage. Needless to say, you won't be sleeping while the music is on. It's one of those places that forces you to go out and be social even if you're dead tired. We happened to be there on a night with some fantastic bands cranking out cajun-jazzy infused rock mutant music. I'm kicking myself now for neglecting to catch their name. But these guys - the ones in the pictures - check them out if you see them one the streets or something.
Yesterday I ventured west of New Orleans, through Baton Rouge, and into the outskirts of Lafayette, Louisiana. The mission - stop by five different meat shops, slaughterhouses, and delis to photograph a staple of southern health food, the cracklin. Admittedly, cracklins aren't the most photogenic of foods, being that they're essentially fried chunks of pig skin. As much as I love taking pictures and working through issues such as unflattering subjects, the road trip itself was even more fun.
I hate driving. There's no point in softening that statement. My wife will tell you that I have trouble sitting still and fidget constantly, so being forced to sit in a chair with at least one arm and one leg dedicated to controlling a vehicle is akin to torture. I try to lessen the pain by eating junk food and listening to lectures on tape (though most people would probably say that hearing recordings about diachronic linguistics would make the drive immeasurably worse). Regardless of my distaste for piloting the car, a bag of beef jerky and two wrong turns later (thanks again Google Maps), I made it to the first stop.
The best part about these road trips? Being able to walk into a small, family owned shop, start chatting, and within 30 seconds be on my way to the back of the house to watch them do what they do. They're usually excited about any sort of exposure which certainly helps, but something tells me I couldn't do that if it were a corporately owned business I was walking into. These people cared. I got a slew of stories from the owner of the slaughterhouse. The others were glad to say why their products were special, while throwing the occasional jab at the competition. Keeping in mind that I was shooting pictures in fully operational shops during lunch hour, everybody was incredibly nice and accommodating.
I got to see things cooked and cooled and packaged. I swapped stories with people whose accents we perfect examples of south Louisiana cajun. I got greasy pork fat splattered on my feet and clothes while seeing chunks of meat sizzle in giant pots. Everybody gave me little paper bags with samples to take home. Even before the two hour return trip, all of the bags were soaked through with grease and cajun spices. The car smelled like a meat shop the whole way back, but is was definitely a great day on the road.
Whenever I get asked to photograph events I always try to get an idea of what the clients are looking for, what sort of activity will be taking place, and key things to get shots of. When getting the details for this event at Old New Blue for New Orleans Bride magazine I got told several times to get pictures of the shoes. You can bet that I spent a lot of time playing with lady's shoes while all the guest were chatting and enjoying food and drink. If you're looking to get different stuff for your wedding, check them out!
Maybe that's a bad title considering the level of security at port facilities. I'll say "photographing" in the future. I don't need to get the Coast Guard after me... Anyway...
I went to a facility on the Mississippi River to take some pictures for an issue of their Port Log publication. I love going into industrial facilities of all sorts. It's sort of like getting a tour of the kitchen in a restaurant; you normally only see the food that comes out, but you don't get to see the cooks thawing your chicken wings before they toss them into the fryer. Most people don't get to see barge loads of caustics and acids being delivered that are necessary to make the gas that runs their cars. In my former jobs in the energy industry I got to have an intimate knowledge of the purchase, transportation, handling, and uses of all sorts of fun things that I can't even pronounce properly anymore. Knowing a little bit about these base level industries gives one a greater appreciation for just how complex everything is, and how amazing it is that we make things work.
This particular day at the port they had a few ships and barges coming and going. A barge was unloading some stone aggregates that probably ended up as foundations for roads or buildings. I actually got to climb aboard a larger ship to get a better view. I could've climbed around the ship all day, but while the Polish guy taking me around only spoke a few words of English, his looks alone let me know that we were done after about 10 minutes. Overall, not a bad morning to throw on a hard hat and take pictures of big cranes and dump trucks and other equipment that lets any kid that played with Tonka trucks relive their childhood.