New Orleans - Making Peace With The Big Easy
June 19, 2015
People ask me all the time what my favorite city that I’ve traveled to is and I always answer the same way - which ever city I am in of course! I absolutely fall in love with each new city as it reveals it self to me declaring it to be my new favorite, that is at least until my recent trip to New Orleans.
I’ve wanted to go for a very long time and have always assumed I would fall crazy head over heals in love with it like everyone else does, I mean it’s a photographers dream, right? I walked around for days waiting for the feeling to hit me and making excuses for why it hadn’t - it’s too hot, it’s a hard city to get around in with Lulu, I’ll have more fun when Richard gets here - I even went back and read Matthew McConaughey’s love letter to New Orleans for inspiration and yet that oh so familiar feeling of falling in love still escaped me.
I really wanted to fall in love with it and it honestly didn’t make any sense to me. I’ve traveled in dirtier, crazier cities than New Orleans and found them fascinating, so what was it exactly?
The bottom line is it’s just not my city and I don’t have to know why. Just as we don’t necessarily fall in love with every person we meet, so it goes with cities too. And perhaps this city and I just needed a bit more time together for her charms to be revealed, let alone be appreciated and fully understood.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike New Orleans per say and there was definitely much that I enjoyed. For one thing, they have beautiful houses with beautiful porches. Porches they actually use and understand the importance of. The front porch is a place to gather, build friendships and community, and perhaps just "sit a spell" while watching the world go by. To me everything just seems right in the world when you have a front porch and good friends to sip ice tea with on a hot summers eve. Matthew nailed it in his letter when he said:
“I don’t know if y’all recognize this: it’s home of the front porch. Not the back porch. Everyone everywhere else has back porches, alright. The back porch is something different. The front porch is an engineering feat that lends (itself) to so much community around here and fellowship. Private property and lines of demarcation all lend across borders. Here you relax facing the street. You face your neighbors. You do not retreat into the seclusion and privacy of your backyard. No, you engage with the goings-on of the world that is in front of you. It’s a great engineering feat that you’ve pulled off here. It really is.”
That makes total sense to me and I’ve actually always wanted to write a book called Houses with Porches about this obsession of mine and when I do, New Orleans will be the perfect place to start and here's why ....
Magazine Street, a six mile long quintessential Americana main street which follows the natural curve of the Mississippi River also hit home with me more than other parts of the city. It was quieter, less touristed and felt more like a neighborhood where people were just being people, which is always what draws me most when I travel. I’m sure the excellent caribbean food at the Rum House that we kept going back for had a little something to do with it too.
I also spent an interesting morning at the Lafayette Cemetery No 1 in the Garden District which is right across the street from the historic Commanders Palace restaurant. It is the oldest of the seven city operated cemeteries dating back to 1832, and many films have been made here. It is also where Anne Rice staged her own funeral back in 1995. As I strolled through the cemetery reading the inscriptions on the tombstones and I couldn’t help but wonder about the lives of the many immigrants, fireman and even destitute orphan boys that were buried here. And what about the two sisters with he fabulous shoes? What is their story and who is that continues to bring the shoes for their tombstones?
The French Quarter … what is there to say that hasn’t already been said about it? If you are looking for a place to drink more than you can hold, let your hair down and get rowdy, or perhaps just people watch for while then the French Quarter is for you. For me, the smell of beer and vomit made me want to leave sooner than later but the architecture is it’s saving grace and should be experienced at least one. Good jazz and music is plentiful and if you go just a block beyond the quarter to Frenchmen Street there is amazing music coming from every doorway minus some of the crazy.
But it was somewhere along the banks of the Mississippi River that I finally made my peace with the Big Easy. Feeling hot and a little bothered by my time in the French Quarter, I soon found myself wandering along the waterfront and eventually came across some absolutely delightful local kids playing in the water fountains near the Aquarium. It was refreshing to my soul in more ways than one and I could have sat for hours. I wanted to join them and perhaps I would have without camera equipment in tow. It was while watching the easy going spirit of these water logged little ones I began to understand a little more about the spirit and appeal of this city, it was here that I made my peace, and It was here that I captured this image below. Not your typical New Orleans photo, it could have been shot anywhere, but it’s definitely my favorite!
If you enjoyed these photos and would like to see the entire gallery of photos from our time in New Orleans click here:
As usual I’d love to hear your comments … been to New Orleans before? What was your experience while you were there and was it similar to mine? Which is you favorite photo?
Until next week from Atlanta …
XOXO, me and lu