Thursday, October 2, 2008

Baton Rouge

Today we drove up to Baton Rouge to meet with Thomas Neff. I'm not sure what the scenery looks like or exactly how long it takes to get there from New Orleans because I slept all the way there and all the way back.

However, meeting Thomas Neff was a great experience. He shared a slideshow with us showcasing his Katrina work, and also some great portraits from his personal work. Mr. Neff has really produced some amazing images. He's a film guy who uses a 5x7 camera. He is also a highly skilled printer as well. He shared with us a box of his silver prints which were a real treat.

After Baton Rouge, we went over to Lakeview again and visited an abandoned school building. It was a strange feeling to see the playground empty and the basketball courts crumbling away. There was a mural on the school's walls that appeared to be painted images of the students. You could see into a few of the classrooms from outside the school that still had posters and other visual hanging on the walls. It was an odd feeling to see the remains of the school and all the prior signs of life that it possessed.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Holy Cross

This morning we drove over to the Holy Cross area. Holy Cross gives a much different view of the progress New Orleans is making. Going through the previous neighborhoods I have visited, the damage suffered is very apparent, but new housing and construction give you a sense of hope and of people moving forward towards positive, if not somewhat slow progress.

Holy Cross gives you a different feeling. It is a feeling of a neighborhood that has barely been touched. In most of the neighborhoods I have visited so far, I want to ask myself "where am I?" It is hard to imagine what these neighborhoods once looked like.

With Holy Cross, I think I asked myself a different question: "What is this?" This area is so untouched in areas that it almost looks unrecognizable as previous being an inhabited area. It is hard to believe I am looking at another residential area. It is hard to believe I am looking at a place where people lived. I think that this area sums up what I thought that destruction in Katrina would look like, and also of destruction that I thought was no longer able to be viewed in this capacity.

There is progress and rebuilding going on, but it seemed almost unnoticeable compared to the destruction that surrounds it. I spoke with a man in the neighborhood who is rebuilding his house by himself. He hopes to be in there within the next month. I am very impressed with this man's courage to move forward and return to his home. It was encouraging to see similar people who are returning and showing progress on their homes. I hope that this trend will continue and all residents affected in this area will receive the aid that they are in need of.

My thoughts are with all those in the area. I felt very encouraged by those that have been able to return thus far and was overwhelmed by the courage that you have shown.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Today we went out the the 9th Ward for a sunrise shoot. I meet a couple of painters in the neighborhood who were working on new houses. Business is definitely up for them since the storm and reconstruction of houses.

The new houses are somewhat odd in their design. They stick out of the ground on their stilt like legs that overlook the open lots and gutted houses that surround them. It is a lot to take in. I am interested in continuing to photograph this progress and talk with the neighbors about the new houses and the status of houses still mostly untouched.

After this we headed down to the lake where I got a fishing lesson from Alberto, a New Orleans local since the 1970's. I did not manage dinner for our group, but I did lose some of Alberto's bait to the crabs. Hopefully he had better luck the rest of the day than I did.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


So here are my anticipated locations for the trip as well as the contact information and name of each business I will be visiting.

View Larger Map

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Church topic contacts

So here is the information for my contacts that I am waiting to hear back from. My focus for the moment remains on the churches and holy orders' role in the restoration of the city and also the state of the church at this time in terms of individual parishes and dangers of having to close.

I am also interested in what the churches I contacted have to say in terms of what their needs are and if my essay topic could be used to help meet a need that they have.


Saint Louis Cathedral
615 Pere Antoine Aly
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 525-9585

St. Patrick's Church
724 Camp St
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 525-4413

St. Peter Claver Church
1923 Saint Philip St, New Orleans
(504) 822-8059

St. Augustine Catholic Church
1210 Governor Nicholls St
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 525-5934

Holy Name of Jesus
6367 Saint Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA 70118
(504) 865-7430

St. Joseph Church
1802 Tulane Ave
New Orleans, LA 70112
(504) 522-3186

St. Mary of the Angels Church
3501 N Miro St
New Orleans, LA 70117
(504) 945-3186

Fr. Mark Pavlik
St. Olaf Catholic Church
Minneapolis, MN

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

10 Stories

Beginning to think about stories for New Orleans, I have so far settled upon two Subjects, The church, and reconstruction.

1. The influence Catholicism has had on the traditions and culture of New Orleans.
2. How has the Church been an essential aid to the redevelopment of the city.
3. What is the current state of the Church and its congregations. What are parishes facing in terms of finances and decreases in parish sizes.
4. The Church's views of the changing of culture and celebration in New Orleans.

5. Habitat for Humanities role in rebuilding of houses.
6. The pride and accomplishment of families who have rebuilt and once again are living in there home parishes.
7. Businesses who have rebuilt and are trying to jump start their companies again.
8. Changes in architecture after Katrina.
9. The availability of resources for people in the process of rebuilding.
10. The changes in the lifestlyes of residents as a result of Katrina.

The True Meaning of Pictures

The True Meaning of Photos was a very intriguing documentary that caused my viewpoints and opinions of the film shift as it moved forward. Not being familiar with Shelby Lee Adams’ work, the slideshow in the beginning captured my attention immediately. The portraits were stunning. As the movie progressed, I don’t think I ever changed my mind that these pictures were indeed stunning, but I think that my view of the photographer’s intentions, meaning, and results changed multiple times.

As many people in the film mentioned, Adams’ portraits of Appalachia contain a very gothic feel that sends stereotypes of small southern town flooding back to me. This is partly to my unfamiliarity with the subject and also my limited exposure to these people through unreliable sources. This however was one of my first main thought shifts. Perhaps Adams was only making what he thought were honest, beautiful portraits. And giving them to the families and having them love and accept them is a wonderful thing.

However, I think that when showing these portraits to the general public, it is important to consider who that audience is and what preconceived notions they possess. I think that sometimes truth can be expressed simply through actions rather than through teaching, but I am not certain that Adams’ portraits possess a quality that allows for the skipping of the teaching step.

Also, there was something that I found very interesting in Adams’ work. He spoke of himself as a documentary photographer. Yet, all of his pictures are posed. This does not disqualify him as a documentary photographer and I actually view myself as taking a similar approach to documentary. But what struck me about this was the way he explained it. Adams’ says that he has thousands of photographs that he takes for the family and gives to them.

He then goes on to say that after he takes these photographs, he asks the family if he can take some pictures for himself. Not just if he can take some portraits of a certain person, but also if he can set up specific situations. This aspect makes me wonder how close he is to fine art rather than documentary work.

I think another thing that I wondered about and haven’t come to a conclusion about is what is going on in the mind of Adams. By the limited interviews I listened to during the film, it seems that he does care about his subjects and does want to create beautiful photographs of them. But he also talks about the fact that he does not like boundaries or rules. He likes to be free to do whatever he likes with his photography.

I think this is somewhat troublesome to me in a way that I have not yet fully processed. I think that having strong values and guidelines on the creation of photographs is important. It should go beyond just seeing something interesting like a torn screen door and just automatically deciding that since it draws your attention it should automatically be used. Or the subject wanted the picture, so it should automatically be shown to the public with no real context in which to place it.

There were so many things that I thought about during this film. It has given me a lot to think about in my own photography as I do appreciate Adams’ work in certain aspects and find it similar to what I would like to develop into.