Fall 2018 Letter from the Editor

Welcome to New Orleans Canvas Magazine for Fall of 2018!  This special expanded 1st Anniversary Issue is focused solely on the art of photography and profiles of seven exceptionally talented photographers who live and work here in New Orleans.

Multiple gold stars have been applied to the forehead of our Photo Editor, Pamela Reed, who selected the photographers included and provided indispensable guidance on questions posed to the photographers during our interviews. Pamela is not only invaluable to our team, as you’ll learn from reading her profile among the seven photographers featured in this issue, she’s also a singular talent in the field.

Our cover artist for Fall is world-famous photographer Curtis Knapp. Curtis is well known for his iconic portraits of celebrities, as well as covers for Playboy and Time Magazine and many other nationally known publications.

Sam Jasper contributes a great article on Roy Guste, featuring a selection of Roy’s beautiful images of New Orleans Burlesque dancers. Dorian Bennett, the famous art collector, graciously interviewed E. Paul Julien for this issue. We were also fortunate to interview former LIFE MAGAZINE photographer Andy Levin, film set photographer Skip Bolen, and landscape photographer Frank Aymami.

We hope you enjoy our first photography issue. These are exciting times for New Orleans Canvas Magazine. Check the website often for coming new features over the next months.  With our expansive (and growing!) community of artists here in New Orleans, there should be no shortage of enlightening subjects for profiles indefinitely. As always, we welcome your input as well on our “Friends Of” Facebook page.

Artfully yours,

Erin McNutt

Editor

 

 

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Curtis Knapp – The Most Famous Unknown Celebrity Photographer

Curtis Knapp is an experienced photographer responsible for some of the best known celebrity portraits of the last forty years. Upon our first conception of a Photography Issue of New Orleans Canvas Magazine,  it was shocking to discover that the man behind the camera of so many iconic portraits lives right here in New Orleans. Equally exciting was when Curtis graciously replied to our first request for an interview.

Curtis has a very warm and friendly personality, certainly a big asset when he works with his many high profile clients. Celebrity portrait photographers can have a tremendous impact on the way the world sees their clients, and Curtis Knapp is no exception. He has built a trustworthy reputation in the industry and many of his subjects have also become his friends. Included amongst the A-List celebrities he has worked with are Tina Turner, Dennis Hopper, Timothy Leary, The B-52s, and even Andy Warhol. This entire profile could have been filled alone with a list of more celebrities, but we probed further.

 

Dennis Hopper

NCM: Where are you originally from, Curtis?

Curtis: I grew up on Long Island and lived in New York before I moved to Japan.

NCM: Japan?! When?

Curtis: I had a Japanese wife and around 1983 or 1984. She told me she wanted to move back to Tokyo to raise our family. I lived in Japan for many years and worked with many celebrities over there.

Catwalk Book Cover- Jun Kano

NCM: Why did you choose to move to New Orleans after being so successful internationally?

Curtis: The architecture really drew me to New Orleans. The bubble burst in the Japanese economy in the late eighties and Japanese creative directors weren’t spending as freely on photography. In the nineties , I chose to focus on book publishing which brought me to Los Angeles for two years. After that I returned to my home in Japan. And in 2002, I was asked to teach at the Smithsonian in DC. I said, “Screw it! I might as well move home.” Which is what I did.

Deacon John Moore

When I finished that, I moved home to New York. But NYU owns the East Village now. And it sucks! So I packed my bags (after less than two years) and  I moved here.

I fell for a commercial that said, “Come to New Orleans! We need creative types!” Except there wasn’t any decent work here. I had a lot of doors shut in my face. So I decided to focus on work that matters to me. I’m doing a lot of museum work right now, which I love. I am also doing a lot of portraiture.

Little Freddie King

I also spend a lot of time with my galleries in Europe and Japan doing exhibitions and things like that. That takes up at least 50 percent of my time.

NCM: When did you first realize you were compelled to shoot photographs?

Curtis: I moved from Children’s Illustration to Photography around 1980.  I started making studio photos right away. I never really changed my lighting or backdrops unless it was for advertising. Within the first four or five months I worked for GQ and Esquire. I took portraits of Stephen King, Perry Ellis, Johnathan Demme, George Romero, and Nile Rogers.

Andy Warhol

It was much more interesting meeting all of these people than sitting home alone with my watercolors. The photography was bringing in a lot more money too.

NCM: Did you have any formal artistic training?

Curtis: I went to Parsons School of Design in New York to become a graphic designer. I took a photography class and my lady at the time was a still-life photographer for Conde’ Nast. She had a studio with lighting available. The first roll of film ended up being used for a 45 for the musical group The Method Actors.  Art Direction Magazine listed it as one of the best 45 covers of the year. I kept winning awards within the first year.

Slash

NCM: You seem to have a lot of interesting stories from your years of working with celebrities.

Curtis: Well, I guess it goes with the territory! Once I was recording an interview I did with Andy Warhol using an audio cassette and I realized after a while that the tape wasn’t working. That was embarrassing!

But the longer I’m out of New York, the more I get young editors looking for a news story about some dead celebrity, looking for that new piece of untold information. For the last 10 years they’ve been able to find me here in the New Orleans. Way back when, Warhol’s studio was across the street from me and we would wave to each other occasionally. But 10 years from now, I can start telling people, “Oh, I had sex with Warhol for six months!”

And there’ll be no one alive to dispute it!

Klaus Nomi

NCM: Is anyone else in your family an artist?

Curtis: My mother was a very good New England watercolorist. She taught me watercolor. My great grandfather had the largest lithography factory and school in America in New Jersey. I think I got the methodicalness of using a mechanical device to create art from him.

Amanda Shaw

NCM: Do you upgrade equipment and software/hardware often? What are your favorite tools, including hardware, software and camera?

Curtis: I have changed to F-ing digital! Capital F! I hate it! And I especially hate digital printing. And someday in the future I will probably not make any digital prints. I will make silkscreens and quality lithographs. Something that feels more like art.

A digital file is too clean. When I shoot with Hasselblad, I use Plus-X film only. Spotting a negative is the biggest pain in the butt. When you scan a large film, negative (with my Hasselblad 2.25 or 4 by 5) You’re spotting for like two days to make it perfect on one image. It’s not like you can press a Photoshop button. There is something about the grain of film that Photoshop can’t replace. Film is fantastic and digital is too clean.

Atsuko

NCM: As a photographer, do you fell like you have become obsolete? Or do you feel like you have become more of a fine artist because fewer people can actually do it?

Curtis: I’m not a complainer. I accept that digital is part of our world. I understand if a client doesn’t want to pay for the development of film. Everything I’ve shot since I moved to New Orleans 10 years ago has been digital.

Madonna

NCM: If you could trade your current camera bodies and lenses for the newest thing out there, would you? What brand and why?

Curtis: A Hasselblad Digital would be nice. But no equipment really matters if you don’t know about good composition. I go for the sharpest picture.

There was a new book coming out in the next month commemorating Madonna’s first 60 years and it’s my polaroid on the cover. That’s a polaroid, that’s two inches square, so it doesn’t matter what camera you use. It’s how you compose the photo.

Steven Jupiter

NCM: If you could shoot whatever you want and not have to worry about your bank account what would be your dream?

Curtis: I would shoot flowers. I take pictures of flowers with black and white. I move them because they are living things. It’s sort of a hobby and it’s the only book I physically haven’t published yet.

Spathiplyllum

NCM: Where do you think photography will be in 10, 25 years?

Curtis: It might become three dimensional. I’d say if you look back 25 years at the incredible advances in photography and computers as an example of what is possible. The camera will become like a hologram or even three dimensional at some level. Or they’ll figure out a way where it actually isn’t a Hologram, but it looks three dimensional.

R Nakamura

NCM: Two pieces of advice to the newbies out there thinking about becoming pros.

Curtis: You can give me a crayon or a polaroid tourist’s camera. It’s all in your composition. I can’t stress that enough. And also, know your market and your audience. Know your target group. It could be 18 to 26 year old women. It could be men over 50 for a whiskey ad – the hardest market in the world is changing a man’s whiskey when he’s over 50. I’ve had those problems. Know your audience and create the visual look that will sell to them, whether it’s in the French market or you have a gallery.

Nanoko Saito

NCM: Who inspired you along the way, possibly influenced your style?

Curtis: I have studied the work of other photographers. I had met a few times with THE Man,  Irving Penn and he did focus me on my work. I studied and I knew what I wanted to see in my images. I went directly to that in the beginning and I haven’t changed since.

Wine Calas Group

NCM: If you could photograph anyone living or dead who would it be and why?

Curtis: Max Von Sidow , Willem Dafoe, and Joni Mitchell would be great living subjects to photograph. The late British actor Paul Scofield would have been a great subject.

Men are much easier to photograph. They sit down in front of the camera and it’s finished. With women, I have to wait for them to have their hair and makeup done.

Miki Kojima

NCM: Who was you favorite subject, and why?

Curtis: I don’t have one favorite because people are so interesting.

To see Curtis Knapp’s complete portfolio or order prints, please visit  http://www.curtisknappstudio.com

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Andy Levin Captures Movement, Music, and the Human Condition

Andy Levin is an award-winning photographer from New York who relocated to New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina. In the 1980s, Andy was a Contributing Photographer for LIFE Magazine. His work has also appeared in many other publications, including: the New York Times, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Time, and Newsweek. Andy has a gift for capturing deeply expressive and unguarded moments on camera. His images consistently document the human experience in a way that most photographers aren’t able to achieve.

NCM: What brought you from New York to New Orleans?

Andy: My work is all about movement and music. The first time I came to New Orleans was in 1983 or 1984. Time magazine had assigned me to do a story on Charity Hospital. At the same time I was really getting into music. I kept coming to Jazz Fest throughout the years and finally decided to move here right before Katrina. That decision was either very good timing or very bad timing depending on how you look at it!

Port Au Prince, Haiti

NCM: Did you stay through the storm or did you evacuate?

Andy: I stayed and it was challenging as a photographer because I was more personally involved in the experience. I had neighbors that I cared about. In the past, I had been assigned to photograph different catastrophes, but I usually flew into the places where I was assigned to work.

I benefited professionally from my work after Katrina. But looking back at the pictures, I can honestly say that I hope it never happens again.

New Orleans, 2005

NCM: Where were you living when Katrina happened?

Andy: I was in Mid-City. I was still fresh out of New York and not quite as familiar with Louisiana as I am now. I wasn’t experienced with hurricanes.

Green Man, Haiti

NCM: When did you first realize you were compelled to shoot photographs?

Andy: My father was a very avid amateur photographer. We always had photographers visiting our house on Long Island because he befriended some of the magazine photographers in New York. He really encouraged me.

NCM: Was anyone else in your family involved in the arts?

Andy: My mother was an artist. We also had a lot of paintings and Haitian artwork that she collected  around the house. That definitely influenced me culturally and visually. I still go to Haiti to photograph. But I grew up in Long Beach, which was a very relaxed beach town.

Haiti

NCM: Did you have any formal education in Photography or the Arts?

Andy:  No formal photographic training. My education came from working with professional photographers. I started assisting and then got a job with a photo agency. I was editing photos and meeting with photographers. I think it took several years before I started to get good at it.

NCM: How do you stay relevant in an ever-changing digital world?

Andy:  There’s a difference between being a photographer and being an artist. If you’re an artist, it really doesn’t matter what tools you use. That’s one answer. Another answer is I try to find subject matter that is meaningful.

Photography is not the same as it was when I started out. But humans still react to photos. There are still great photos to be made. And photos mean something.

NCM: How long have you been a full time professional photographer?

Andy: I have worked in the industry for more than 40 years. I have been a full time professional photographer for 35 years now.

Ti Machan, Jacmel,

NCM: Do you upgrade equipment and software/hardware often? Favorite tools for creating including hardware, software and camera?

Andy: I’m not an equipment freak. I have the ability now to basically borrow anything that I want. If I have a commercial assignment, I can get everything that I need. Cameras are so good now, and even older generation ones are really good too. I don’t have any issues with that. I try to stay relevant but not to the point of, by always buying too much specialty equipment.

Fire after Katrina, New Orleans, 2005

NCM:  What is your specialty?

Andy: I’m mostly a people photographer. I like to photograph people. I also like to photograph things that interest me. For example, musical things interest me. Movement, motion, and dancing interest me. The musical aspect of human personalities and culture interests me. New Orleans has a musical culture. Cuba has a musical culture. I want to photograph the way our lives are wrapped up in that.

Havana, Cuba

NCM: If you could shoot whatever you want and not have to worry about your bank account what would be your dream?

Andy: There are some places I’ve never been, but I’m thankful to have had the opportunities to take the photographs I did. I travel quite a bit. I would like to explore more places in the Caribbean like Trinidad. I would like to see more island countries. I would be pretty busy if I had an unlimited budget!

Uncle Lionel Batiste, 2006

NCM: Where do you think photography will be in 10, 25 years?

Andy: The improvements in digital technology have not helped professional photographers in their ability to make a living. There will always be people who need to do it. And they will be able to produce some great work with the new technology. It is hard to say what will happen.

NCM: Can you give some pieces of advice to the newbies out there thinking about becoming pros?

Andy: There’s a lot of advice I can give. I should probably mention that I am giving workshops in Cuba. I am happy to work with people who want to learn from my knowledge and pass it along. It is important for any new photographer to seek out experienced people who are willing to give them advice. Its important to understand how a film camera works and some of the basic concepts. It is also important to understand what makes a good composition and a good subject for an image. And don’t underestimate the value of hard work. Most successful photographers work incredibly hard.

NCM: Who inspired you along the way and possibly influenced your style?

Andy: Robert Frank inspired me. He was in the generation before me. Alex Webb and all of the Magnum photographers from my generation influenced me too. All the visual stuff that was going on in the eighties influenced me. We also still a good bit of the photographers from the 50s and 60s too. For example, Charles Moore from Life Magazine was a big influence. He was still around in the 80s.

New Orleans Jazz Funeral

NCM: If you could photograph anyone living or dead who would it be and why?

Andy: If he were alive, it would be Jimi Hendrix. I would also love to photograph Bob Dylan. If it weren’t a musician, it would be candid shots (without limitation) of Donald Trump or Putin. But they would have to be candid shots. A “fly on the wall” situation.

Buscando el clave, Havana con Alberta, 2018

NCM: Do you have a favorite image and why?

Andy: Yes, this one of people splashing in water that I took in India. I like the movement and happiness in the picture. It’s a positive picture.

Chowpatty, Bombay 1993
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Frank Aymami’s Haunting Landscapes

It is refreshing to find artists who strive to produce unique  and compelling imagery. Frank Aymami is an award-winning commercial photographer here in New Orleans who also captures beautiful scenes of deserted landscapes that most of us might overlook. He has an eye for composition and an eagerness to travel to places away from the crowds. Frank talked to us over lunch at Pamela Reed’s house in Gentilly.

Full spectrum color images of Rhyolite Ghost Town in Rhyolite, NV on October 14, 2016.

NCM: Are you from New Orleans?

Frank: Yes, born and raised.

NCM: When did you first realize you were compelled to shoot photographs?

Frank: I was working as a graphic designer and was planning on moving to Oklahoma to live with my girlfriend at the time. So I bought a camera to take pictures of New Orleans that I could hang in our apartment in Oklahoma.

NCM: Did you have any formal education in Photography?

Frank: I’m self-taught. If I needed to learn something, I would Google it. There was a lot of trial and error. I shot film at first and then when it got tedious waiting to see what images looked like I bought a digital camera. Then I could kind of redirect myself on the fly.

NCM: How long have you been a full time professional photographer?

Frank: Over thirteen years.

NCM: Do you upgrade equipment and software/hardware often? What are your favorite tools, including hardware, software and camera?

Frank: I use Nikon cameras. I have cameras that I do my commercial work with and then I have a modified camera that I do infrared work with. I haven’t upgraded cameras in the last few years. About four years ago I did a complete overhaul.

NCM: If you could trade your current camera bodies and lenses for the newest thing out there, would you, what brand and why?

Frank: I would like to make some add ons to my current equipment. There’s some infrared filters I’d like to get. There would be some lighting equipment I’d like to get. Those things would help me do stuff remotely out in the desert.


NCM: Do you travel a lot for work?

Frank: I go on trips once every few months.

NCM: Can you name some of your clients?

Frank:  The National WWII Museum is a big client. I do a lot of work for Children’s Hospital in New Orleans. I have also worked for Touro Infirmary, WDSU, and Tulane University. I done work for a few art galleries. I also have out of town Corporate clients. I have done work for the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum and Direct TV.

NCM: What is your specialty?

Frank: I do special events like conventions, fundraisers and dinner benefits. I also do commercial work which ends up being used for advertising and promotional campaigns.

NCM: If you could shoot whatever you want and not have to worry about your bank account what would be your dream?

Frank: I’m working on a passion project with the cemeteries here. I’ve been doing that for several years. I’d continue doing that. I would also like to travel more. I like traveling around and have a love for the desert and ghost towns.

Full spectrum color images of Rhyolite Ghost Town in Rhyolite, NV on October 14, 2016.

NCM: Do you go through creative phases?

Frank: I go through phases of how I shoot. So right now I’m in this really big wide angle, low to the ground, extreme angle phase that I have been in for a few years. Before that I did a lot of close up stuff. But I hate to say it’s how I feel, but it’s all depends on how my mood is.

I recently went back to some six year old pictures that I’d tossed off to the side. I didn’t like him at the time. But six years later, I decided to convert them to black and white because of where I am in my life right now, and ended up stumbling upon something. Now I have like a whole set of images that I didn’t have before.

It all depends on what my mood is at the time and what the weather is like. If it’s cloudy and gray outside, I’m not doing black and white because it’s going to look like mud. But you can get fantastic color that way. If it’s super bright outside I use black and white.

NCM: What would you carry for your camera?

Frank: I would carry my D 600 (that’s my infrared camera). I would use that and a wide angle lens and some filters.

NCM: Do you have preference as to what type of day you like to shoot.

Frank: Not particularly. If I’m shooting infrared, I need light. I need a lot of light. So that usually happens in the middle of the day. I do a lot of sunset evening photography. I always say I’m going to get up early for sunrise, but I never do. I’ve done it, but the evenings are my favorite.

NCM: Did you convert your camera to infrared?

Frank: It’s a full spectrum conversion. It takes the filter off the inside so the sensor is completely exposed. You need to use a lens filter to filter out certain light to get different looks.

NCM: Where do you think photography will be in 10-25 years?

Frank: That’s a terrifying question! The profession is already flooded and expectations for a lot of work are pretty low compared to what it was a few years ago. I’ve talked to a bunch of photographers about this. None of us feel really secure. Hopefully I’m still working!

NCM: How do you stay relevant?

Frank: I know what I bring to the table with clients who hire me, so I underpromise and overdeliver and that keeps them happy. I’m always honest – if they ask for something, I tell them whether it’s not going to work or yes it will.

Creatively, you know, it’s just being open and honest. I think people can sense bullshit. I have a lot of clients and colleagues that I’m friends with on Facebook and we follow each other on Twitter or Instagram. So they kind of get that inside view of me from things that I share because I put myself completely out in the open. I don’t hide anything. I’m not ashamed of anything. I wear my vulnerability pretty well so people see that they attached to that because it makes them feel like they know me really well. And that’s evolved over the last 15 years since I really started shooting.

A full spectrum image of Tonopah Garage, in Tonopah, NV on October 14, 2016.

NCM:  Do you have advice for the newbies out there thinking about becoming pros?

Frank: I got in right before everybody started buying cameras. Now it’s flooded. One of the things that helped me out was knowing what I was good at doing. Find a niche that you can specialize in, shoot a lot, experiment a lot, and try everything.

NCM: Who inspired you along the way, possibly influenced your style?

Frank: I was mostly influenced by newspaper photographers. I was curious about how they would get these shots that I would never think about. Ted Jackson and Chris Granger are two. But those were more professional influences rather than creative influences.

Bumper Cars at Six Flags

NCM: If you could photograph any subject what would it be and why?

Frank: I would love to photograph the Northern Lights in Alaska. In March I got to shoot some really amazing scenic stuff. I took a two week tour of the Pacific, with the National WWII museum. I got to go to Pear Harbor, Iwo Jima, and Mount Suribachi.

I remember what it was like the first time I saw the milky way in the desert a few years ago and it’s kind of a spiritual experience that opened up a creative door for me.

NCM: Do you have a favorite image, and why?

Frank: I have a few. One of them is my Ferris wheel photo from Six Flags. There are also a few cemetery images that are very special for me. Cemeteries are usually deserted, and when I first started I would get self-conscious around people because I’m self taught. If I was in a cemetery by myself, I could work with architectural pieces and statues. I spent a lot of time doing that because and didn’t feel embarrassed that I didn’t know what the hell I was doing!

So I started in cemeteries like 15 years ago. Fast forward to a few years ago, the Archdiocese of New Orleans hired me to take some images of their cemeteries  for a promotional campaign.

Prior to them hiring me, I had been looking at infrared cameras and had decided to buy one. And the day that I was going to shoot for the Archdiocese, my camera arrived. I charged the battery up and thought it’d be great to take it and test drive it. I hadn’t used infrared before so I wanted to play around. That kind of opened up the door for the infrared with the cemeteries.

NCM: Do you prefer photographing empty spaces or crowds of people?

Frank: I photograph people 95 percent for work, so when I can get away and do things on my own, I prefer no people. I love working with people and I’m very personable and outgoing, but I also crave alone time. There’s a difference between photographing people for a specific purpose versus me being in a place and connecting with the space.

NCM: Do you carry a camera with you all the time just in case you happen upon that moment?

Frank: I used to. Sometimes it is hard to find the time because I have kids and they come first. When I’m really busy I don’t get to do stuff sometimes for months.

I try to make time and I used to carry cameras with me everywhere but not anymore. I only bring it when I’m specifically setting out to do it because there’s less pressure. If I’m out somewhere and see something on-the-fly, I have my iPhone, which isn’t the same, but it’s a suitable replacement.

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E. Paul Julien Discusses the Importance of Creating Meaningful Art

Dorian Bennett, the art collector, was gracious enough to interview world famous artist E. Paul Julien for this issue of New Orleans Canvas Magazine. As an artist, E. Paul is unusual because his work encompasses photography as well as mixed-media and painting. E. Paul continuously tries to push the boundaries of photography through double exposure, re-photography, transferring to a gold or silver-leaf substrate, and other techniques. In many of his works he also explores his own South Louisiana narrative. E. Paul also likes to challenge the idea of stereotypes in his art, which can be seen in the groundbreaking E2 photo series (named E2 because he collaborated with artist, Elizabeth Kleinveld). In the E2 series, iconic images from paintings, film, photography, and literature were reimagined.

 

Ode to Velasquez’ Venus at her Mirror

Dorian: Let’s start with the basics! Where are you originally from?

E. Paul: I was born in New Orleans, but raised in Modeste, LA.

Dorian: When did you first realize you were meant to be an artist?

E. Paul:   Well, its kind of a long story. I was 21 or 22 and I had just met this beautiful nurse. We went to her house for the first time ever. But unfortunately she was divorced for two years from a crazy person that wanted to kill her! I happened to be there when he was going pull off the whole thing.

Dorian: Oh my God! Talk about being at the wrong place at the wrong time!

E. Paul: Yeah! He shot me 12 times (I had about 24 bullet holes because of exit wounds) and he shot her 18 times. And he killed her. He had planned on killing her, her mother, and their baby. Luckily her mother and their baby weren’t home at the time. I didn’t know all of this when I accepted her invitation to come over.

Hanging Man

Dorian: That’s horrible! What a horrible experience to be stuck in the middle of a bullet fight!

E. Paul: Yeah! Before that I just lived with my family on an old plantation in the country. I grew plants and I was just a dreamy kid. After that happened I knew that I needed to do something more important, something meaningful to me. I decided I was going to be a photographer and make art even though I had never been to a museum.

Dorian: So you had never been to an art gallery or museum?

E. Paul: No, no real exposure to any art even though I had everything that I needed in Modeste. I had the Mississippi river and I had 1200 acres of land, but I wanted to be able to communicate my story. I wanted my life to have meaning.

4 N

Dorian: So you were real plantation owners?

E. Paul: Yeah. I grew up kind of like Tom Sawyer. I would play out in the woods all day and come home when the sun went down.

Self-portrait

Dorian: Would they ring a bell for dinner?

E. Paul: I actually tried to save the bell. The plantation house finally fell down after Katrina. And I took the bell with me to Chicago, but it was stolen.

Dorian: I love that! I grew up on a farm andI know what it’s like to be a young kid exploring and growing up out in the woods.

Mr. Darby 2

E. Paul: Yeah sometimes we’d be gone for two or three days because we build a camp out in the woods and cook. We had our own little crew of about twelve kids.

So I was like, I’m not going to get a job. I kind of got the basics covered. I’ve got a house, land and I just want to do something meaningful. I decided to be an artist and then at that point it was like, okay, I can’t do it here. I went to LSU and Southern (University) looking for mentors and guides to help me on that journey.

D_Estree Sisters

Dorian: Did you attend art school ? Or are you self-taught?

E. Paul: I did not attend an art school, so I am probably considered self-taught. But I did make friends with a lot of Professors. So I really didn’t teach myself. It wasn’t magical.

Reflections

Dorian: When did you first start making photography?

E. Paul: I started with photography because  (without art school) I knew I wasn’t going to take years to learn how to draw someone. I knew that photography was something I could produce immediately. My dad had taught me how to use his Nikkormat FT-2 camera when I was little. It was like a  magic box! It was fascinating to me.

Ardolfini

Dorian: What mediums do you work in?

E. Paul:  I work with everything: Photography, painting, mixed media.

Butterfly Boy, Photo with Gold Leaf and Ink

Dorian: Why did you choose to also become a mixed media artist?

E. Paul: I had been toying with it for a while when Katrina happened. And it forced me away from the dark room. I had lost everything. I was just stuck with paper and negatives. So I started creating with what I had.

The Tree of Life, 32″x32″ on Gold Leaf Panel

Dorian: When I looked at your work, I see the work of highly sophisticated artist. But you’re one of those self-read, self-taught kind of guys. How do you differentiate your art from the rest?

Echoofascream

E. Paul: I try to create art that has meaning. I want to make my mark on the world. It is kind of like an autobiography.

Dorian: What do you wish you had known about being an artist before you got started?

E. Paul: I’m glad I was ignorant about being an artist because I had no idea when I first started. It had nothing to do with money anyway.  Like I said, my family never went to a gallery or museum or any of those type things, so I just thought it was a way to tell stories. If I had known it was going to become so much about making money, I would have lost the passion for it back then

Courbet’s Self-Portrait

Dorian: How do you handle negative criticism?

E. Paul: I never take anything personally. This too shall pass. Keep smiling and keep moving.

Dorian: Your art tells a story. Is each piece meant to tell its own story? Or is it meant to be part of a greater tale?

E. Paul: I don’t think I can really answer that question because I’m in the middle of it. I’m still making it!  Looking back on things, some pieces seem to be telling the same story. Other pieces seem to be telling different stories because it’s about my life. It is evolving.

4 N

Dorian: Is anyone in your family an artist?

E. Paul: Technically no, but they are more interested now that I have become successful. Everybody is a craftsman, which is just a stage before you become an artist. So I grew up using my hands and building stuff and taking stuff apart.

4 N

Dorian: Can you describe what brings you to the lustrous  golden finish that seems to be present and much of your mixed media work?

Trees Sunshine, 32″x32″ on Gold Leaf

E. Paul: Since mixed media is something that doesn’t involve just being in the dark room and only working with light, I can bring out additional aspects that interest me. I have been inspired by other artists, particularly a Venezuelan artist named Luis Gonzalez Palma. I also want to bring out gold aspects of the early Africans and their radiance.

Chelsy

Dorian: Have you had any artistic mentors?

E. Paul: Yes, I sought out professors at LSU and Southern and started interviewing them to find out information. They were eager to share information with me. I sat in their classrooms even though I wasn’t enrolled. Terry Kennedy and Thomas Neff were both important to me. One was more into metaphors and meaning and the other one was into the technical aspect. Terry was my best friend.

Dorian: Do you have a favorite out of all of the art have created and why would it be your favorite?

E. Paul: I’m not ready to pick one because I still have a lot more creating to do. Hopefully I have many more years left to create art. I was going to be strictly photography, but, life and circumstances have pushed me in different directions. I’m not sure where I will end up..

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Capturing Artistic Portraits that Speak to the Viewer with Pamela Reed

Pamela Reed has been a tremendous asset to New Orleans Canvas Magazine over the past year and we are very fortunate to have her on our team. She’s a keen observer who takes wonderful portraits as well as candid shots of her subjects. Pamela is a master at capturing poignant and decisive images in public places at the spur of the moment. Her portraits of people are often disarmingly real and capture their personalities. Her work ethic is unmatched, including her ability to endure the physical demands of carrying camera equipment to remote places in all kinds of weather.

NCM: Tell us a little about your background.

Pamela: I grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City on the Kansas side. My father was a journalist with the Kansas City Star and Times. In his later years he was a monthly guest on McNeil/Lehrer News Hour. I learned processing in the darkrooms of the newspaper alongside Pulitzer Prize winning photographers.

My style of photography is based on photojournalism in that I want to present a unique work of art in a portrait but it must say something. The portrait must speak to the viewer from the direction of the subject.

Portraiture to me is far more than standing in front of an artist and posing for a pretty photograph or painting. It is about feeling free and safe enough to let down your guard, trust that the artist will capture the real, beautiful you, no matter how well hidden. I just like to present portraiture in a more artistic way.

NCM: When did you first feel compelled to shoot photographs?

Pamela: I was first compelled to shoot photographs when I realized I couldn’t capture what I saw with a brush and pigment.

NCM: What kind of formal or informal training did you have? Any regrets with the path taken?

Pamela: In high school, being the person who liked to watch from the outside, I joined the school newspaper as a photographer. I used my dad’s Nikon F with a roll of Tri-X 400 asa loaded. I didn’t learn much that I remember but I could get my exposure right so that worked.

I tried taking Photography I in Junior College but for some reason I just didn’t get it. So I just used the Sunny 16 rule and went from there on my own. The big turning point was when a friend in Tucson and I were having a conversation about another photographer who I said just didn’t do much for me creatively but was technically perfect. His response to me was YOU have a great eye and suck technically. That was the kick in the ass I needed 13 years ago! Today, I only shoot in manual, 100% of the time. Always. And not long after I started doing this, I had my first solo exhibition at DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun. I have no regrets with the path I’ve taken. It’s made me the photographer I am today.

NCM: How do you stay relevant in an ever changing digital world?

Pamela: When I was promoting weddings I did market research every 6 months. I paid attention to what was going on in the world. I became aware of who had money and who was broke. I researched heavily and tried to stay ahead of the pack by basically making an educated guess as to what was the next thing.

It just so happened I wasn’t into traditional weddings so I moved my marketing toward nontraditional weddings. I was able to capture more artistic photographs which led to me marketing towards elopements and very intimate weddings, and finally to where I am. Today I do what I feel are rather unique, a bit candid and very real portraits of former wedding couples, some seniors, a few family, a lot of artists and creatives. And I am doing it my way.

I guess I am lucky in that I foresaw where photography was going and adjusted my timeline to fit. I wanted to be in a place where I could create without restrictions and be paid for that creativity. I love what I do and the people who stood in front of my camera and tolerated the antics I pulled to get them to relax.

Today in the world photography is everything, but it’s been watered down by mediocrity. To remain relevant, one must look to the future and find a niche that fits both their style and skill. Something the average Joe or Jill can’t consistently do.

NCM: How long have you been a professional photographer?

Pamela: Since 2002.

NCM: Do you upgrade equipment and software/hardware often? Favorite tools for creating including hardware, software and camera?

Pamela: I rarely upgrade equipment, hardware or software. Only when absolutely necessary to create or provide the best final product. “If it ain’t broke….”

I shoot with Canon only because it was the first film camera at the time to offer several options. Everyone knows its the lenses that matter the most, most of the time. So you buy good glass. Once you’ve invested in pro-line glass you’re kinda tied into that line unless you’re into spending tons of dough switching it up.

Software, well I use Adobe products for the most part.  I have other software I use for the art, but I ain’t tellin’ y’all what dat is!

NCM: If you could trade your current camera bodies and lenses for the newest thing out there, would you? For what brand and why?

Pamela: I would seriously research the new mirrorless cameras. I have been enjoying turning off my flash more and more when the light works for me so it would be just awesome to carry one camera and a couple of lenses. Lighten the load man! Skip has been really excited about a new body that just came out. Fuji, Sony and some others are really putting out some kickass cameras and lenses these days. I am looking forward to hearing more about it. However, I would have to dump all my gear to afford what I really want. Soon, my pretty…you will be mine…

NCM: What skill would you say is your specialty?

Pamela:  Editing. Hahahaha. Actually that is a very important part, possibly the most important, of photography. Knowing what to edit and how best to present it. I’m about what is beautiful to my eye. It can be a couple standing in front of a plain wall, a drag queen at a local show, cemetery tombs … so much out there catches my eye. But I guess if I were to say what is my speciality, it would be Artistic Portraiture with a candid touch. It doesn’t matter whether the subjects are: human, animal or mineral. Color or black and white. The images dictates what it will become.

NCM: If you could shoot whatever you want and not have to worry about your bank account what would be your dream?

Pamela: I am doing it right now. I am photographing the most interesting and creative people in this city and possibly in this country. A few might say world-wide.

NCM: Where do you think photography will be in 10 – 25 years?

Pamela: I think photography as we know it is dead, almost. I don’t see it coming back as we knew it, ever. It doesn’t mean no more photography, it’ll just be very difficult for anyone to make a living at it. Digital arrived and it became affordable, then they started putting great cameras in our phones.  Now everyone is a photographer.

When you view that image on a tiny screen or even a big screen tv it’s still 72dpi. So much is lost and as a result folks really don’t know what is a bad photograph because when its tiny it can look great. When you enlarge it 300 dpi for printing, well that’s a different dawg! However, people rarely print much anymore, at least the masses don’t, and lets face it: the masses are who pay the rent! Still, if people aren’t printing then they aren’t SEEING the entire picture.

So in the future photography will be everywhere and sadly devalued as an income-producing occupation EXCEPT for the very few (like in the past) who can remain relevant or are practicing the old style of film photography and processing. I already see wedding photographers charging huge rates to shoot with film. Why? ‘Cause its old and cool!

NCM: Two pieces of advice to the newbies out there thinking about becoming pros.

Pamela:  First: STOP playing the lowball game! Charge according to your skill and style. And don’t lie to yourself. If you can’t tell whether you suck or not, YOU SUCK! Find another profession. Okay, that sounds harsh. But it is harsh. It’s tough out there. Learn your craft! Work as an assistant. That should be a damn law.

Second: LISTEN to your client! Read between the lines. If necessary, pay attention to what they AREN’t saying. So, bottomline, my two bits, don’t under or over-charge for your skill and talent level. Why? In the future. it’ll matter. The more you lowball the lower you drive the rates, and pretty soon no one can make a living because y’all just giving it away.

NCM: Who inspired you along the way, possibly influenced your style?

Pamela: Wes Lyle and the photographers of the Kansas City Star were big influences. Helmut Newton for his artistic nudes in black and white and the lighting. Annie Leibowitz for her early black and white work for Rolling Stone Magazine (she captured the essence of her subjects). Weegee (Arthur Fellig) for his ability to ‘get the shot’. I admire Diane Arbus for making different hauntingly beautiful portraits. James Nachtwey for shooting war photography with a 100 mm lens. That takes balls! And finally the great Richard Avedon for mastering the simple portrait.

NCM: If you could photograph anyone living or dead who would it be and why?

Pamela: To be honest, I don’t have a specific person. I am soulless. Haahaha! I guess the next person who wants to stand in front of my camera is the who. Why? Because the next one always opens up opportunities to experiment. To create something new.

NCM: Do you have a favorite image? And why?

Pamela: Okay, I’ll say this up front: I don’t have a single favorite image. Call it conceited, but I love all my work and each new image that crosses my computer is my next favorite. But right now I would say for capturing a pure, unadulterated moment it would be the Ferrari photo in the French Quarter. To me it says so much without a title or a word in its honor. I feel so many emotions when I look at that image.

My favorite portrait, hmmm, one of my faves is of a couple of friends to whom I gifted their wedding portraits. They’re unique people, him with his straight edge razor and her with her stylin’ self!

Man…but to be perfectly honest, I really do usually call my favorite the one I just did. Each new one is just a little bit better, you know?

You can see more of Pamela Reed’s work at www.artsyphotographer.com

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Making The Scene With Skip Bolen

Johnny Ramone

Skip Bolen is a talented film set photographer based here in New Orleans who has worked on many of the major TV and film sets in the city since Katrina. Set photography is something that Skip fell into after working as a successful artist and art director for media companies and nightclubs in New York and Los Angeles. Despite all of the successes throughout his career, Skip has remained a very down to earth Southern gentleman. He was very forthcoming about what it is like to work in close proximity to some of the biggest names in entertainment.

NCM: Where are you originally from?

Skip: I was born in Lafayette, LA. I’m from the sticks! And when I say sticks, I mean we were right outside of Lafayette.

I lived one block over from the street that marked the boundary of the Lafayette High School zone. I went to a high school that was built way out in the country that had no windows and air conditioning. It was considered the latest greatest thing! Then I went to USL and I moved to New Orleans when I was 21.

Conde Nast Days

Life started for me when I moved to New Orleans. I started a punk band and had a studio downtown. I had two floors in a warehouse building. I rented each floor for $50.

On the second floor, I did large scale screen printing that was 40 by 60 inches in size. I’m surprised that I’m still alive today because I was pretty much swimming in mineral spirits.

Los Angeles Cameo

On the third floor was all the band equipment and we would rehearse there. The band was called The Front. We opened for Siouxsie and the Banshees and Snakefinger. And actually we’re going to put out a CD of our old tapes, hopefully before the end of this year!

NCM: Did you study photography or a different type of art in school?

Skip: At USL I decided to go into advertising and design because I was concerned about making a living. I took a lot of fine art courses like printmaking, painting, and drawing. I got a BFA in Applied Arts with emphasis in Advertising.

My first job was for an advertising agency in Lafayette. I hated it. Because you worked for clients that you didn’t believe in.  I also worked for a radio station in Lafayette, KSMB, which was fun. Then I moved to New Orleans and worked for a graphic design studio and then shortly thereafter met this woman named Connie Atkinson who was starting a music magazine called Wavelength.  I worked on the first issue and shortly thereafter I got hired to be the art director.

Killer Joe

I had that job for several years. I met another woman who wanted to do a magazine called Les Beaux Art magazine. Sort of based on Interview magazine, an oversized publication. We did 12 issues, each focused on interviews with local artists and architects. I also worked at Gambit magazine for a while. In fact I worked on the first issue of Gambit.

All this while I had dreams and aspirations of moving to New York and wanted to work for Andy Warhol at Interview Magazine. Then Les Beaux Art came to a close, the owner having decided to fold the publication.  I had $50 in my wallet, so I sold everything, moved in with a friend and sent out resumes. Then one day I drove up to New York, where I slept on another friend’s couch.

William Friedkin, Director of Killer Joe

While in New York, I interviewed with Rolling Stone a bunch of publications but it was looking pretty dismal. Then I ran into a friend from New Orleans, Michael Staats.

He was working in a club called Area, which was at 157 Hudson on the lower West Side. He offered me a job as an artist at Area. Area was a club downstairs and upstairs we worked on themes. Every month there was a new theme. In between themes, the club was shut down for a few days and we would decorate the entire club for the new theme. Opening night was A-list only, with people like Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, David Byrne, David Bowie, Richard Branson. All sorts of famous 80’s celebrities showed up. It was an amazing time.

That was my life for a while. I was there for almost a year and it was just it was just an amazing time. And because I worked at Area, I also got into other clubs, like The Palladium and The World. I was a club kid for a while. I got to know Hayne Suthon, a woman from New Orleans who had a lot of money. Her parents bought this place for her in New York that a big closet, and I slept on the top shelf of it. The shelf was like six feet by four feet!

Members of the New Orleans Baby Dolls Ladies pose in the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club’s ‘Zulu Parade’ on Jackson Avenue

During this time I was subscribing to Rolling Stone Magazine where Derek Ungless was the art director. I saw a paragraph in Rolling Stone saying the next issue would be completely redesigned: “Our Art Director is going to take Rolling Stone in a new direction.”

So I took a Sharpie and I went through that issue critiquing the whole the new format. I wrote things on each page like, “What sort of asshole design school did you go to?” And then I sent it off to them.

Fats Domino, Little Richard, and Kevin Mo backstage at the Domino Effect Benefit Concert in New Orleans

A year or two later I’m in New York interviewing at Conde Nast. Anna Wintour had just come over from British Vogue. I was interviewing with the art director of House and Garden magazine and she happened to introduce me to Derek Ungless. They informed me that he was going to be my art director for the next six months to “guide us in a new direction”! Then she has to take care of something and leaves Derek and I alone in the room together. Ungless closed the door and said, “I’ve received a lot of critiques in my lifetime, but yours really took the cake!”

Six Flags

I was sweating bullets. I wanted that job so badly! Luckily the photo editor came back in the room and interrupted us. The interview was over and the next day I get the call that Anna Wintour wanted to meet with me.

She wore sunglasses during the entire interview, which lasted only eight or nine minutes. It was very uncomfortable and I was very nervous. Then she put’s her hand on my shoulder and said, ” I’ll be talking to you soon.”

Afterwards I remember standing outside and I found a 20 dollar bill in the street, so I was able to get a cab back instead of taking the subway. The next day I got the call that I had gotten the job at Conde Nast!

Pink’s

It was quite a unique situation. There were no budgets. For example, if I needed to hire Annie Lebowitz and she needed to fly the Concorde with a crew to go to do a photo shoot, I just booked it! Conde Nast gave me a stack of vouchers. I had car service home every night. All meals and dry cleaning service were paid for, but I basically lived at Conde Nast. They knew you weren’t going to leave because there was nothing better out there!

Krewe De’Tat

NCM: What brought you back to New Orleans?

Skip: I was living in L.A. in August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. In January 2006, I was laid off from my job and lost the home I was renting on the same day. I was the Art Director for the House of Blues in L.A. at the corporate offices. We were designing for all the venues, new venues, and the company store.  Live Nation wanted to buy the company. So in order to make the company look more profitable on books, they let go of 80 midlevel managers!

James Brown

That same afternoon I was evicted from the house where I had been living, in Beachwood Canyon under the Hollywood sign. For seven years, life was great. Then I lost my job and house on the same day!

 

The job at the House of Blues was really unique in that I got to photograph every live music show there. One day when I was in the photo pit one of the owners of Wire Image approached me and asked who I shot for. I told him I shot for myself and the House of Blues. He asked me if I wanted to make money with the images.

Six Flags

So I started shooting for Wire Image. And six months after that, Getty Images bought them. I was now a Getty Images photographer. So by day I was Art Director the House of Blues and by night I was shooting concerts, red carpet events and openings. That’s when I kind of got my foot in the door of photography. Prior to that I had always been an art director.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

I tried to stay in L.A. after I got laid off. However, my landlord had been charging me really low rent. When I started looking around for another place, I couldn’t really get anything close to that.  Job wise, I was tired of working for somebody else.

I attended Jazz Fest right after Katrina and that was a huge homecoming for me. I realized I needed to move back home.

Krewe of Zulu

July 1, 2006,  I moved back to New Orleans. There were no jobs here. But luckily there was a lot of Getty work. A lot of people were moving here. Brad Pitt was just starting his Make It Right Foundation. That was one of my assignments.

Then I fell into the film industry. There was a film shooting down the street from my place and I went to check it out. The Director thought I was paparazzi. I told him I was shooting for Getty Images. He asked me for my name and number. I uploaded to the images to Getty and all the directors, the producers, and a couple the actors were in the shots. The director sent me an e-mail saying they were really happy to see all of these behind the scenes photos. I asked him what I had to do to work on sets. He forwarded my information to Fox in L.A.

Six Flags

Fox called soon after. They were excited about having a still photographer in New Orleans because they didn’t have to send someone here anymore. They even took care of getting me into the union, which is very hard to get into. I used to fantasize about being a still photographer in L.A., but never did because it cost too much plus they are too exclusive about who they let in.

Since then I’ve been working nonstop. I’ve worked on: Memphis Beat, True Detective, Trueblood, and Queen Sugar. Right now I’m working on NCIS New Orleans.

I don’t really work in the studio anymore. It’s all about showing up to the set and capturing those magic moments.

 

Cypress Grove

NCM: What kind of equipment do you prefer to carry in your mobile studio?

Skip:  I used to use a Jacobson. Sound Blimp. It’s big and bulky, great to hide behind. When you work in film sets you have to be completely quiet – If my camera were heard on set, I wouldn’t have a job anymore. There’s one little man named Jacobson in North Hollywood who makes these Jacobson Sound Blimps. Professionals have used them since the 70s through today. I have two, but I don’t have to use this anymore.  I went to a camera that makes no noise. A few years back Fuji and Nikon started making mirrorless cameras. Canon is coming out with one soon. And Sony has one that is supposed to blow them all away.

I carry two cameras. Basically one on each shoulder. I got my newest about a month ago and it is incredibly quiet. There is a little bit of a flicker that you see when it is taking pictures.

Krewe de’ Tat

What’s great about film and television, in most scenes the lighting is the same throughout the entire scene. For the most part once the camera is sealed up, I am good to go for a whole scene. But for images on the fly (in between scenes) and you want to capture an actor talking to somebody else and the lighting changes,  I used to have to pop open the gear every time. Now with this new equipment, I have access to everything.

I feel like Sony is the company that is investing money into research and development of low light photography, which will be beneficial to film set photographers.

Odd Fellows Rest

NCM: If you could shoot whatever you want without regard to your bank account, what would it be?

Skip: I love going to cemeteries while it is raining or right after a rain. While it’s raining, the marble comes alive and the cast iron is black. There is a richness to everything and I like the dramatic signs. I was into documenting cemeteries. I like documenting old buildings and architecture.

I’d also like to do some Jazz photography because I know a lot of those musicians and no one is really doing Jazz photography anymore.

Orpheus Flambeaus

NCM: Did you have any artistic mentors? Or anyone who really influenced your style?

Skip: Herman Leonard was a great photographer and printmaker. He knew how to really make magic. When he photographed in Jazz clubs everyone smoked. It created a mood in his photos. I also saw all of this great work at Conde Nast like: Bruce Weber, Herb Ritz, Mapplethorpe. I was in New York at a really cool time.

Francis Wolf did a lot of the Blue Note album covers in New York. Ray Avery and Chet Baker also influenced me.

NCM: If you could photograph anyone living or dead who would it be?

Skip: My mom, because it would give me a chance to see her again. I do miss her. My life is different because I meet famous people all of the time and I realize that they are just people.

Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club on Mardi Gras Day, February 12th, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo © Skip Bolen

NCM: was anyone else in your family an artist?

Skip: My mom grew up in an orphanage, but her dad was a printmaker. He died from ink poisoning. My brother was also always creating works of art growing up. But he ended up working for the phone company.

NCM: Do you have any favorite images?

Skip: Right now I am enamored with my Ramones images. I have images that I find from a long time ago. Now I can go into Photoshop and use that the way I used  a dark room long ago.

Ramones 1982
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The Beholder

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Prior to my meeting Roy F. Guste, Jr., I’d only seen a couple of his photos of burlesque dancers and none of him. I didn’t know what I’d behold when his door opened. Instead of some backstage character with snakeskin boots and a pallor, I was welcomed by a compact smiling man with a shock of thick white hair and eyes that twinkled when he smiled. His plastered walls are painted a warm shade of Van Gogh’s bed yellow and covered with extraordinary images of New Orleans.

As we talk it becomes clear that this man is in love with the city his family has inhabited for more than five generations, “My first name is also a family name. The Roys were on the boats with Bienville.” His great great grandfather is Antoine – yeah that Antoine!

Roy has at written 10 books on Creole cuisine and is an acknowledged Creole cuisine expert and historian.

So what’s with all these photographs?

He grew up Uptown. For you locals he went to Jesuit and then on to Cordon Bleu. When he turned 18, he decided the Uptown life wasn’t for him so he grabbed his stuff and moved to an apartment in the Quarter.  Although his family owned Antoine’s, he applied for (and got!) a job there.  He worked as a cashier, and on his 18th birthday had dinner and ordered his first bottle of wine from the Roy family wine cellar. He got up the next day and went to work.

Roy had been shooting photos from a young age, as the kids in his family all had Brownie cameras. When he was about 12, his dad bought him a Pentax Spotmatic. He was entranced by the light meter in the viewfinder. It taught him a lot about light, lessons he has mastered today. He doesn’t use a flash. Roy never really thought about photography as a career – he was kind of busy, as he eventually ran Antoine’s from the mid 70’s to about the mid 80’s.

Roy is self admittedly shy and retiring, and the stress of dealing with 200 employees and 600 diners every day eventually became a nightmare for him. He had books to write, and so that’s what he did!

After Katrina, Roy got into Real Estate, and with it shooting of photos of houses. He found himself in some of the most gorgeous homes in the City, full of little details that were often overlooked. So he started to shoot those little details. “More people needed to see what I got to see”. These architectural photos were well received so he set out to do more artistic work, “but I didn’t have a good camera”. This of course didn’t stop him. “I always tell people it’s not the camera. Go shoot the picture with whatever you have”.

 

Many of his photos depict New Orleans in the fog. “It’s not that I came upon it and shot it. They have been purposefully planned. I like to shoot in the rain and fog so I have to wait for the elements to come together.” He says he knows that in some ways he’s shaping the viewer’s memory. “It’s not so much the way they remember it as the way they WANT to remember it.”

Looking at the photos on the walls of his rooms, dozens of photos, I noticed  stunning shots of Mardi Gras Indians, but nary a float, pile of beads or masks in sight. “I made a decision once I determined to do photography as art that I would not be known for Mardi Gras pictures, I shot the Indians because I felt my portfolio needed them. Over the last seven years those photos have gotten better and better because they know me and give me the shot.”

When asked what makes him raise his camera and push the button, he responds: “If I see something funny or odd. But mostly it’s when I see something beautiful.” A master of light, he’s constantly aware of the lighting present around him. He recently did a series of photographs of sunsets reflected in puddles left by a rain near the railroad tracks near his house, simply because he found beauty in the reflections of that light.

Who would he most like to photograph? “My great Grandfather, I have a half finished novel about him in my desk drawer.” Fifteen minutes later he’s unveiling a 24×36 shot of a burlesque beauty that had been recently delivered. She looks like an old time Fan Dancer – a stunner on stage at Siberia on St. Claude Avenue. Roy explains that he left a lot of the noise in and purposely didn’t photoshop the little bits of detritus off the stage floor as it “keeps her in context.” He also reduced the sharpness a bit because it “added too much black.” The shot is breathtaking.

Vita Devoid

“I made a decision to shoot the burlesque explosion because it’s beautiful and theatrical.” He moved to the Quarter just about the time the old school burlesque clubs on Bourbon were shutting down. He also remembers as a little kid walking down Bourbon and one of the doors to the clubs would be open and his dad would say, “Don’t look in there. Don’t look in there.” Once he moved out he remembers the Champagne glass lady and the shows that included musicians, magicians, dog trick acts and comedians.

Because it’s beautiful. Roy’s eye beholds the beauty in everything he chooses to shoot so that the rest of us can see it too. Yes that just rained on gleaming flagstone is exactly how I want to remember it so thanks for clicking the shutter at just the right time and for being there.

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