Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nearly Homeward Bound

After nine days of shooting, driving, po' boys, sunburns, fruit loops, shotgun points, thunderstorms, shrimp, safety, taco stands, sunrise, firemen, jazz music, sunsets, bayous, road trips, hot hot heat, levees, alligators, FEMA trailers, street cars.... well, pretty much everything but the snowballs... we are nearly homeward bound.

If you've been following their blogs, you are aware by now that the students have been working extraordinarly hard. Colleen and I are going to have a difficult time curating this show with such tremendous work to choose from. I am so proud of the work these students have done and I am looking forward to reconvening (after what remains of summer break, of course) in Minneapolis.

Please continue to stay tuned to the blog as we will be posting more information about our upcoming presentations and exhibitions happening in September at the Minneapolis Public Library.

In the meantime, Adios/Au revoir Big Easy....and thank you to the fine folks of New Orleans. We hope to see you again soon.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Versailles Farmer's Market

Sometimes sunrise shoots are more difficult if one has over enjoyed the city the night before...

Things are a little out of order, here in the blog, but I'll try to catch up today. Yesterday, one the morning shift I drove Peter out to Versailles for the farmer's market. Apparently the market is very well known, evidenced by the other photographer there on assignment for the illustration of a cookbook.

Lisa tagged along, so after Versailles we could stop at a location for her project on the growth of the Latino community in New Orleans. Lisa and I hung back and let Peter do his thing for a while, but eventually Lisa decided to go try to make a few pictures of her own--there is a very large community of Latinos in Versailles. There's a storefront used as a place of worship, a taco stand, and restaurants.

Day 5: The shooting and driving of Friday, June 26 (until 12pm)

I was kind of proud of the vast needs covered on Friday. All the way out to a boat graveyard way out Chef Hwy, all the way to the former site of an amusement park on Pontchartrain...and managed to have a student wander into Metarie, but managed a successful extraction before heat stroke ensued.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

On Bayou Teche with Donovan Garcia

Donovan Garcia on Bayou Teche from Becky Olstad on Vimeo.

Um, when was this now?

At some point in the last few days, the following things occurred (How's that for journalistic-centered specificity?!):

As Colleen mentioned, we rode along with photographers from the Times Picayune. Lisa, Stephanie and I rode along with Jennifer Zdon to a shoot covering the preservation of a 275 year old tree. After returning to the offices, the students had a chance for some one on one feedback with Jennifer and we all got an inside look at Ted Jackson's workflow and editing process. This continues to be one of the best experiences of the trip. The staff at the paper is incredibly generous with their time and knowledge and we can't thank them enough!
Yesterday, (I think!) I went out with Kristyna to Bayou Teche where we met Donovan Garcia who so graciously took us out for 4 hours on the Reserve to show us the environmental impact of the gas and oil industry and provide a first hand look at the importance of the wetland preservation. I'll be posting a video shortly of Donovan sharing some of his insight. In the meantime, a short look at the view from the back of the boat. (You may not want the sound for this one -- it's just wind noise.)

Kristyna on Bayou Teche from Becky Olstad on Vimeo.

I also headed out to St. Amant with Stephanie and at some point after returning to New Orleans I managed to stop being in motion for the first time in 14 hours.

Days 4 and 5 in Pictures

I drove pretty much from 5:45am until 9:45pm following students and ferrying between different essay projects of eight of the students, and Becky had two different long trips with two different students....so more prose later--we promise!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Firemen, Bayous and Taco Stands - Oh My!

Safety was the name of the game today as I headed out to drop off, pick up, drop off, pick up and drop off photographers all the way from the Lower 9th Ward to Bayou Sauvage so they could make photographs ranging in subject matter from the rebuilding of communities along the levees to the firemen of St. Bernard Parish, and the importance of the wetland preservation.

The bad news is I made very few photographs today. The good news is the students are making some fantastic work and today they shared their photographs with Tony Lewis, Curator of Visual Arts at the Louisiana State Museums. Be sure to follow the links to the students' blogs for samples of their work and updates from the Big Easy.

Below, Kristyna pulls a Rich Ryan while shooting on the bayou:

Also this afternoon we had a photography tour at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art with Preparator, Richard McCabe, including a private viewing of the museum's prints from photographer Birney Imes.

Tomorrow, it's off to the Bayou at 6am!

Wednesday: Time Picayune and Taquerillas

Yesterday we went to the Times Picayune for a tour and to meet the photographers. Doug Parker (who rocks, even when on vacation) had set it up for all of the students to get to ride along on assignment with the photographers! I, Amanda, Kristyna, and Nick had the good fortune to tag along with Ted Jackson.

Ted has a surgical methodology, that was a pleasure to watch. The day was topped off with Ted giving all of the students a lesson in his workflow when he comes off assignment. His pictures were staggeringly beautiful, and the quote of the day was from Amanda's lips, "This is waaaaay better than crabs."

In between it all, we had a terrific lunch at a great place somewhere up near Riverbend. Above is Rusty telling this amazng story about being in a zero gravity plane to make pictures. Jennifer Zdon asked hm what his most amazing assignemnt was. Pretty amazing--that--and the day.

Lisa and I set out not long after our return from the paper to a networking event for Latino business owners at a casino in Kenner (suburban New Orleans). She collected some very good leads in the form of business cards, and then we were on our way to a fabulous dinner adventure in Mid-City. We hit a little stretch of restaurants on Carrollton.

We went into a taquerilla that was great...yeah, I had one taco of chorizo and two with barbacoa (barbaqued beef), and I can report that they didn't hold a candle to the taco stand at Tennessee and Claiborne. Hands down. LIsa did a great job of talking to taff and maing pictures.

Hottest Day Ever.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Morgan City & Barataria Reserve

Yesterday, Stephanie and I drove west out to Morgan City to meet with Harlan Guillot (yes, a descendant of the inventor of the Guillotine.) Mr. Guillot shared stories from his life in which he has done everything, he said, "except murder someone and skydive." He then directed us to the best Shrimp Po'Boy in town.

After lunch in Morgan City we drove out to Cajun cooking central, the Hot Sauce Shangri-la, Avery Island -- Home of Tobasco.
After returning to sweet New Orleans with my newly purchased gallon of green tobasco, Colleen, Kristyna and I drove out to Barataria Reserve where we saw five alligators, a water snake, and lots and lots of spiders:

So far this morning, it's been off to the 17th Street Canal and the London Canal with Dyer and McGoff and now we're all off to reconnect with our friends over at the Times Picayune. If I get a chance to compress some files -- I'll post some exciting videos shot with the Canon 5D Mark II! The footage is gorgeous!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 2: Part 2 - Wait, You want to be where? When?

I thought I was taking the lion's share of work when, on our last program trip in September, I volunteered to take the long trips with students who had far flung essay projects. Today, I am here to tell you, Becky rocks. There are no two ways about it, the long trip and it's leisurely meanderings to barbershops, nameless "amazing" places with po' boys made by displaced Chicago chefs, and Tabasco gluttony, are a walk in the park compared to the soccer-mom-ery involved in negotiating seven vastly different essay ideas, and their desired locations I experienced today. Okay, well really, we addressed four essays in three trips to the eastern parts of New Orleans, as far flung as Versailles, and as near as Tennessee Street.

After a long day of back and forth, and back, the dynamic duo of Becky and Colleen were reunited to take Krystina out to the Barataria Reserve. It was beautiful, and terrible, and given the interesting people we met, and things we saw, I will save the details for when I can more adequitely descrbe it. here's a preview:

The real treat will be to see the photographic results tomorrow night when we sit down for our first formal critique. We got a sneak peek here and there tonight, but at nine, Becky and I both pushed back our chairs and apologetically set out for a dinner alone.

Also, I ate the best beef tacos ever--and I've eaten at taco stands in Acapulco, Mazatlan, Zihuatenejo, Manzanillo, and P.V. Best tacos, EVER.

Day 2 - Sunrise

The humidity is so high, we are thinking about swimming instead of driving....the humidity is so high, and it's so hot, that I ran a cup through the air to get hot water to make tea.....the humidity is so high that when a camera has been in dry dry A/C overnight, then taken outside, every surface of the thing instantly becomes dew laden. The humidity is so high that the cameras fogged up in every conceivable place--even though we kept the car cooler low and the windows down. The humidity is so high, that our cameras didn't fully recover until at least a half hour into shooting this morning....

This morning, I was surprised when the elevator door opened on three to reveal Peter. Last night when we had our class meeting, there were a few half-hearted hands up for sunrise shooting from the men's camp. Peter's wasn't one of them. "What?! I woke up at four!" We were soon joined by the Ryans (Dyer an McGoff), Micah, Lisa and Stephanie. We set out for my favorite first-morning shoot destination, Holy Cross. The sunrise was spectacular. And tomorrow we'll have a better strategy for the cameras to capture it! Have I mentioned it's humid?

Say, if you have a strategy for beating the fog of humidity off an A/C chilled camera--comment away--we'll post them!

Monday, June 22, 2009

We're here!

We're here! It's been a LONG day of traveling and after beginning at the MSP airport at 4 am, we've finally made it to the Big Easy. Today, we had the tour bus to ourselves and for the students that were able to stay awake we had an informative survey of the city.

From the tour we were able to scout a number of prospective locations for our essays and we have a busy busy day planned tomorrow. You can expect updates from Morgan City, Versailles and the Lower 9th Ward plus more.

It's good to be back.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Way to View Veracity in the Media

We spoke at length about Shelby Lee Adams and the film The True Meaning of Pictures. What is true? What does documentary mean? Is labeling something art sufficient to excuse a misrepresentation, or the resulting misinterpretation by the viewer of the photograph? And if your intent is to report, and not imbue your opinion, how to you best direct your neutral eye toward your subject?

I enclose a link from the Huffington Post, an interesting story about another type of skewing of what is meant to be the great, honest voice of the people: The letter to the editor. Click on the image at the bottom of this post.

Now we start the phase of this journey where we become the visual interpreters of a place that experienced one of the worst natural disasters in modern history. Take some time to think again about what your preconceived ideas of the American South really are. What are you expecting from the trip to New Orleans? Write a blog entry this weekend, and jot these thoughts down. See you at 4am Monday!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Speedlite Refresher

For an excellent refresher on the speedlites, be sure to revisit www.strobist.com.

In particular, there are 2 fantastic posts on balancing your strobes and your ambient light here:

Don't forget to check your gear before you leave the cage! You will NOT be able to exchange gear over the weekend before we leave.

Monday, June 15, 2009

People We are Meeting

I know everyone is in the throws of making appointments and packing, but I wanted to share some information on some of the places we are visiting, or guest critique visitors. Some are photographers with their own books, so if you like their work, you might consider picking up a book for them to sign while they are visiting!

Tony Lewis
Curator of Visual Arts, Louisiana State Museums
Tony Lewis completed graduate studies in the history of art, with a specialization in nineteenth-century American art, at Northwestern University. He developed an interest in the history of photography during a graduate seminar with Joel Snyder at the University of Chicago. Before joining LSM in January 2007, he served in the education department of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., as Curator of Paintings at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia, as Assistant Director of the Middlebury College Museum of Art, and as an Assistant Professor of Art History and Museum Studies at the University of Southern Mississippi in
Hattiesburg. Dr. Lewis has developed over forty exhibitions, including a traveling exhibition of Herbert Randall’s 1964 Civil Rights photographs and an exhibit of Rudy Burkhardt’s photographs of New York School artists. He recently developing a traveling exhibition at Kennesaw University of Belgian artist Jan Yoors’ photographs of European Roma before WWII and is completing a book on Robert Tebbs’ photographs of Louisiana plantations for the LSU Press.

Thomas Neff
As a volunteer in the city in the early days after the flood, this Baton Rouge photographer witnessed firsthand the confusion and suffering that was New Orleans as well as the persistence and strength of those who stuck it out.

Neff subsequently spent forty-five days interviewing and photographing the city’s holdouts, and his record is a heartbreaking but compelling look at the true impact of the disaster. At a time when New Orleans residents felt isolated and abandoned, Neff provided the ear that many needed. The friendship he extended enabled him to capture remarkable images and to write sensitive commentaries that approach his subjects from a uniquely personal perspective. Here are Antoinette K-Doe assessing the future of her ruined Mother-in-Law Lounge; Juan Parke, who ferried scores of people to safety in his silver canoe; Ashton O’Dwyer defending his property from looters; Ride Hamilton pausing in his work as a freelance medic. These portraits and dozens more tell the story of the storm through many voices and collectively they tell a story of their own. Other books have documented the wrath of Katrina, but none has captured the human dimension as powerfully as Holding Out and Hanging On. Through these intimate, intense images, readers will meet people from all walks of life who are exhausted by grief and shock but who are determined to hold on to their culture and their city. Neff’s gripping black-and-white images and equally poignant narratives show individuals who are reorganizing their lives, trying to maintain their individuality, and even enriching their souls as they help one another.

Jennifer Shaw
Photography is always an act of discovery for me. It’s about the joy of seeing and the mysterious convergence of light, texture and form as translated onto film. A sense of wonder and a reverence for beauty are motivating factors that lead me to document and interpret the world through the camera’s lens. I attempt to create images that transcend literal description, reaching beyond the physical surface of the subject to resonate with viewers on an emotional level.

Most of my work is created using toy cameras. These simple plastic devices lend a whimsical spontaneity to the act of photographing. Although they offer little control in making exposures, their quirks can sometimes result in magic.

I print my black and white images in the darkroom on traditional silver paper, then split-tone them to add depth and color. This toning method can be unpredictable, and like every other part of my process, owes a bit to serendipity. The color work is shot on film, then scanned to make archival pigment prints on Hahnemuhle Rag 308 paper

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ryan McGoff a Facebook Darling

One of our own got props on George Slade's wall on facebook last week--cool for all!