New Orleans… I shall return.

Man. What a place. It was too long since I had been there. The architecture, the food, the music, the people. What an amazing place. Last week I traveled to New Orleans and stayed at what was very appropriately called The Castle. I found it through AirBnB and what a fantastic experience. It’s like going to another city where you have a friend and they give you the keys to their house for a few days. Very easy, relaxed, laid back. Great parking and the place itself… well it was hard at times to actually leave. You just wanted to stay there. It literally faced Audubon Park. GORGEOUS.

Here’s some shots of the home. It’s the white one with the three arched windows. The property to the right belongs to the same owner. Who knows how amazing it is in there.2016-08-18 13.04.34

I didn’t go crazy shooting every room in the place but it was HUGE. Here’s a few I did take:BANN0005BANN0002BANN0001Something I loved about this location is that it is on a dead end street. The address for the property is technically such that you can’t get to it by car. It seems there used to be a street traveling in front of it but at some point in the past, city planners elected to give that up and let it be reclaimed by the park. There’s a never ending stream of joggers, runners and cyclists riding in front of the house on what was once a street. So given that the adjacent home has few full time residents, and that the property on the opposite side of the access street has no “frontage”, that dead end street is pretty much an open, private parking area. I was always able to just drive up, turn around and park. From previous trips to the city with car or rental car… parking can be a headache. This was so easy. That’s my silver Forester in its “spot”.2016-08-15 14.44.40

I did go mainly to vacation. My first day on the ground I hit the WWII museum. I’d seen it for years and years and finally took it in. Whenever I go to a museum with anyone I tend to be the one nowhere near finished when others are ready to leave. So I went into this one myself and spent quite a few hours there. It was really amazing on a lot of levels and the exhibits were really powerful. It was moving.2016-08-16 10.09.47In no time I was joined at the Castle by Jackie Winemixer and her family. Jackie, Jose, Manda and Layla traveled down from New York to vacation themselves and take part in a shoot north of the city at Oak Alley plantation. I had learned you could get photo access to the grounds at a very reasonable price. I think it was one of my earlier posts about this very location that caught Manda’s eye as I touted it as being my visiting “The Land of Lestat”, you see this plantation was featured in the opening sequences of Interview With The Vampire. One thing led to another and they traveled down to join me. Jose had been there once before but it was the first time for the girls.

Before that shoot occurred though I did manage some other touristy things, really pilgrimages on my part. First I hit a place on St. Charles, the name escapes me now but it was a restaurant specializing in seafood. I had a terrific lunch and got chatty with the bar tender Katie. Another guy arrived and sat 2 seats away, he must have been there previously as he and Katie were conversant too (Katie was an excellent server) Before too long it was a group discussion and I got to know Javier. Alcohol was involved of course and what started as me getting an early lunch turned into a 3 hour stay at the bar chatting with Javier who hailed from San Diego. It was really cool when he knew the name of the place I remembered from a trip there where I got this amazing steak, and the walls of the place were covered with cases holding nothing but different tequilas. He knew it and named it. What was really heartening for me with our chatting was that when we got into some political discussions it was evident we were not in agreement on some things. On a few things we couldn’t be more polar opposite. BUT… we listened to each other, neither of us were so set in our ways or thoughts that we didn’t hear the other out and consider the opposing viewpoint. The discourse was courteous and non-combative. And with that we actually noted that and shook hands each supporting our own rights to our opposing positions. Then we sang Kumbaya. Not really but it was close to it.  After this I went back to the castle to chill, I walked the park a bit and explored  the neighborhood. Eventually I decided a traditional New Orleans dinner was in order and went to Fat Harry’s. This is the place I first had the classic dish Read Beans and Rice. What threw me was seeing Yuengling Beer on tap and in bottles in the cooler. WHOA. Turns out it just debuted there at the beginning of the month. When I ordered a Black and Tan the girl asked me if I’d ever had it before. Please. I told her the brewery is just a few blocks from my studio in Pennsylvania and then she gushed at how well it’s been doing there.2016-08-16 19.12.29-1By the way, the Black and Tan is an excellent pairing with Red Beans and Rice (With Crystal hot sauce on it).

Eventually it was time to head to Oak Alley for the shoot.

It was HOT. Let me stress this. HOTTTTTTTT. Lordy it was hot. And let’s not get into the humidity thing… Anyway, it was a beautiful day otherwise. Though several people texted and messaged me concerned for my safety because of the flooding in Louisiana I was nowhere near that tragic storm. New Orleans and it’s immediate vicinity were perfectly fine. Here’s a view from the plantation parking lot.2016-08-17 10.42.49I love clouds in general but the ones around the gulf coast are always so big, and so plentiful. YES.

Now I am going to share a mess of photos from Manda and Jackie’s shoot here. Click on them to see them large. Keep in mind that while we had access to shoot here it didn’t mean they shut down the plantation just for us. We had the task of dodging other tourists (at any point I’d wage close to 100 were on site with us) who also wanted photos from the same vantage points as us. Or milling about the house while we tried for picturesque shots where it looked like Manda and Jackie were the only ones for miles.  Some of these edits also benefit from my photoshopping out some of those other tourists. (Some photos are crops)

BANN0226ecrop BANN0226e BANN0201e BANN0201ecrop BANN0190e BANN0169eBANN0043eThis was the “path” Brad Pitt rode a horse on in the movie.

Below are some shots with some of the Live Oaks as a focal point. It’s one thing to see the photos, another to stand near these giants.
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BANN0306eAfterwards we got a group shot. Thanks to Manda for that.2016-08-18 20.28.59It was also time for some lunch. We ventured to a local spot nearby and had a terrific meal at a great price. I ended up with this andouille sausage salad. It was excellent.2016-08-17 13.58.43

I went on to visit one of my favorite cemeteries. Lakelawn in Metairie. I am not p opting any photos here as there’s too many. Built on a former horse track, this cemetery features many amazing and curious tombs and vaults.

I will however post a shot of the creme brûlée that followed one of the best New York Strips I’ve ever had at the Garden District establishment Torch Light.2016-08-17 19.08.30I will confess I did run my finger along that ramekin to pick up some of the powdered sugar that was everywhere. It all excelled.

The next morning I was up early and hit the French Quarter. I saw more signs of Yuengling:2016-08-18 07.59.33 And then followed that with breakfast very newer Cafe Du Monde. Mimosa was the obvious choice to drink.2016-08-18 08.24.38-1I would make a stop at Central Grocery. Muffalettas are an essential requirement of any visit to New Orleans. Once, some co-workers and I ordered and had Fed-Exed several of those legendary sandwiches from New Orleans to Washington DC later that day. #firstworldproblems I did NOT take photos of the Muffalettas.

2016-08-18 09.30.38 2016-08-18 09.31.07Then I returned to the castle for a session with Tara, a young lady who it turns our dances at a club on Bourbon Street. It totally showed in the way she moved that she was some sort of performer. I was very excited to shoot her in this amazing space. As part of the session she asked if a friend of hers, an aspiring photographer could come along and get some pointers. I’ve never done a one on one workshop and was actually kind of excited to work with someone in this way. We agreed to terms and all met later that afternoon. Again click on the photos for larger examples.2016-08-18 14.49.12 2016-08-18 15.01.09 2016-08-18 15.03.13 2016-08-18 15.25.09 2016-08-18 15.43.07 2016-08-18 15.45.31 2016-08-18 15.47.42-2 2016-08-18 15.51.38

Here and there I felt I was working with Angela Bassett’s niece or something.


I feel terrible I do not recall Tara’s friend’s name but here I captured him shooting on the stairs.

We also did some work in the one bedroom that was bordered on three sides by windows. Can I tell you how awesome it was having light hitting the subject on three sides like this? 2016-08-18 16.10.31-1 2016-08-18 16.09.35 2016-08-18 16.09.33 2016-08-18 16.07.24 2016-08-18 16.04.56-1 2016-08-18 16.03.18 2016-08-18 16.09.28

I love it when I can catch a model laughing. This gal had a terrific smile to begin with but her laughter was contagious. I had a message from Tara yesterday asking me when I was coming back to New Orleans. It seems she shared the photos with some other ladies she works with and quite a few asked her where she got them done. It won’t take much to convince me to return. That’s a fact.

If anyone reading this wants to visit and perhaps shoot in this amazing city, let me know. I am actually going to return before too long.BANN0190e