Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Amanda with Mr. Chuck Byrne in the Lakeview neighborhood of New Orleans. Mr. Byrne has been living in his 200 square foot FEMA trailer on the front lawn of his childhood home for 2 years while he works through the red tape of reconstruction. He opened his home to us and shared his moving story -- it was a truly humbling morning. You can read more about Mr. Byrne's story on Amanda's blog.

Below, Mr. Byrne in his home with a ship in a bottle that once belonged to his grandfather. Byrne grew up in this home and ultimately raised his family here until it was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. In addition to meeting Mr. Byrne, we also had the opportunity to sit down with Miss Gibbs. The students met Miss Gibbs last time they were here during some work with Rebuilding New Orleans Together. Miss Gibbs sat down with us today in her newly remodeled home and shared stories about her collection of photographs that is currently finding its way to the walls. The photographs, salvaged from her home post-Katrina, were on the wall just above the water lines and were the only things, along with the china, that she salvaged.

Below: Keith Cich at work on a panoramic shot in the home of Mr. Chuck Byrne.

"If I was gittin' up at 6am to shoot, I'd be fixin' to bring back meat..."

It's what a fellow hotel guest just said to me. He has his preferred targets, we have ours. We started Monday on Tennessee Street in the Lower 9th Ward. This street has seen enormous transformation in the last nine months. A gestation that has included a sea of pink tents, launching the Make It Right Foundation's efforts to make sure the owner residents of the neighborhood could have a reasonable way to return; then came another quiet time that resembled the time before the pink tents--I wondered then if there would be houses; and now, suddenly these great spaceship looking Dwell-Magazine-attention-seeking, stilted, ready-to-float, "green" homes have emerged on Tennessee Street.

"Brad Pitt is a Modernist." is what I heard out of the mouth of a young architect being bombarded by questions by a couple of students as I approached. I can only ponder what the question was...why don't these look anything like traditional New Orleans homes? They really didn't grow on me until our little group trickled onto the front walk of Gertrude LeBlanc's new home. I first met Gertrude in December the morning I was thwarted from making my Tennessee Street tree picture by the pink cast on everything in the neighborhood of the MIR Foundation's project to launch, fund raise, and bring awareness to the plan to build affordable housing for the original homeowner/residents of the Lower 9th Ward. I asked her that morning if all the noise woke her up. She told me no, emphatically. She was thrilled that there was life again in her neighborhood. And these are the good spirits we found her in Monday. She had a little dog that she had to periodically stop her story telling to tell to stop barking, as she rocked in her rocker. She is really excited to have her neighbors back--in the next week or so, they will move in. MIR stipulates that the homes be built only for resident/homeowners who own the land on which their former houses stood.

After this, we departed for Lake Ponchartrain to hang out with some fishermen and photograph, before returning to the hotel for a quick lunch at Mother's, and the short walk to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. There we previewed a few of the pictures about to be hung for this Saturday's opening of the Sally Mann exhibition (which we will attend), as well some Lisa Silvestri work, and a number of gems from the permanent collection. Perhaps the best treat was seeing a fairly rare early-eighties portfolio of thirty images by William Eggleston. Here are the students being shown this magnificent work:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Animal Farm

Amanda, Ashley, and I piled into the soccer-mom-minivan at two yesterday to get Ashley out to a no-kill animal shelter she was interested in photographing. The rest of the group, but for a couple who decided that four hours of Cop TV would be an excellent way to spend the hottest part of the afternoon, went back down to Lafitte to get Anthony (who hasn't stopped grinning ear to ear since, by the way) After a navigation-challenged hour and a quarter, we arrived at this dilapidated brick building in an industrial park in Metarie. There were three or four young boys (high school age) laying about on top of dog kibble bags in the open garage section of the building. When we went inside there was a couple having a littler of four kitties vaccinated. They'd found them under a restaurant in Mid City. Ashley set to work:

9.29 AM Shooting

Sunrise in the Lower 9th with Anthony and Amanda. Below, Anthony washes some biting ants off his ankles. He can handle a live alligator without a problem, but the ants...
Off Lakeshore Drive at Lake Pontchartrain. Keith learned to fish. He lost 2 shrimp.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Team Swamp

We started off the day at 6:15am in the breakfast room. Unfortunately, and I believe this is Amanda's fault, the night person had taken home the key to the kitchen. Hence we were relegated to a selection of Cheerios, Fruit Loops, and Raisin Bran, milk, and a machine offering selections of a fluid in various forms alleging to be "coffee". It was not. Amanda gave the front desk lady a hard time about the cookies not being in the bin when we had our late night planning session last night. I think the woman took the key home in spite...smiling while jamming to the beat of something loud, and throwing her head back laughing to think of us craving make-your-own-waffles, but finding no purchase. We left the hotel at 6:45am to set out for Lafitte, LA to drop Anthony off to crab hunt. Lafitte was hit hard by the storm surge of Gustav and saw 3+ feet of water in areas. The checkout clerk at the Piggly Wiggly had three feet (of water). I said I was sorry, and she shrugged. Many people here have only just bought new things, scraped the molded sheet rock out, become settled again, and now they are again, in ruin.

Darryl, Anthony's boat ride, was really terrific. He brought us around his property and showed us his boats and pictures of the gators he's tacked over the years. I asked him if it scared him when he had shoot a particularly big gator four times, and he responded, "Not anymore. It used to." He said his eight year old daughter is the most fearless of alligators in the family. I'm not sure is that's good or not. Here's Anthony's recap:

We've arrived and hit the ground -- er, the bayou, running...

Antonio's counterpoint....and Colleen's

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Hey guys! Our stock photo site is up for our non-profits. Becky is going to walk you through and set up your accounts Thursday night. Please bring names and contact info (email; phone; names) to class to get started! We will be uploading throughout the trip! Here's a preview of the site...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

One more assignment

There is a film that just opened at the Lagoon Friday, that everyone should try to see by this Saturday. It's called Trouble the Water, and was shot by a couple that stayed through Katrina. I aim to see it Monday night, myself, but it's also playing at the movie theater very close to our hotel down there--Canal Place. My friends who have seen it say it's fantastic and totally raw in the amateur film making style of the woman whose camera was brand new just before the storm. It was made by the same people who did Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, Tia Lessin and Carl Deal.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


So I'd like you to get to thinking about the books...it may help you to start to frame your story....here is a blog about how to do a full-bleed double-page spread on Blurb. Blurb is the one I used for my piece. There are other vendors, like Lulu. Shop around. Google online publishing and tell us what you find too!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Check out Oxford American

The Oxford American has a great all-New Orleans issue out--I just ordered a copy--here's the link--there may be things in there for some of you--it's only $6. A couple of articles are available free online...this one on Haley Barbour and this one on artist Willie Birch. One of the featured artists, Jen Shaw, will be coming to hang out with us one of the evenings we are there. Click here for details on ordering.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Balancing Compassion With Privacy

As you sort through recent images from Gustav and consider the images with which we are most familiar from Katrina, please read the following story from Poynter Online:

Readers and journalists discuss the value of graphic images in newspapers.

"The Poynter Institute is a school dedicated to teaching and inspiring journalists and media leaders. It promotes excellence and integrity in the practice of craft and in the practical leadership of successful businesses. It stands for a journalism that informs citizens and enlightens public discourse. It carries forward Nelson Poynter's belief in the value of independent journalism in the public interest."

Lessons from Gustav

Well, I know we all were, to varying degrees, glued to CNN this weekend. I was in San Francisco, and flew into MSP International Airport last night. I had a gate agent check, and NWA flights are set to resume on Wednesday to New Orleans. I expect the city to be back in full-swing by the time we arrive in 27 days!

Tomorrow, business people and small business owners will be allowed back in to get ready to open, and by the weekend, the city will be populated again. I'd like everyone to surf the web for images from the weekend's events, to discuss the power of images in times of disaster, and what makes an image that resonates over time, as opposed to a simple document. So many of you discussed this fine line with relation to the Shelby Lee Adams, I think it bears examining in class on Thursday. Please drop jpegs into the folder I've created on the Photo Drive "NOLA PIX". TItle them with your last name. You may be meetng some of these photographers in a few weeks! Remeber, we are visiting the Times Picayune!