Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Two Years Ago Today

Two years ago today, Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

I am depressed.

I am sad for the people of Louisana and Mississippi.

I am sad for our country.

Another failure.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I'm back in New Mexico

I got back home last night about 7:30pm. It was a very long day. Jake and I walked around the french quarter in the morning and then drove around the west side of New Orleans.

On the flight from NO to Dallas, I sat next to a woman and her two kids. They are from NO but have been displaced to Dallas since Katrina. They lost their home and almost all of their belongs. And to make matters worse, the Insurance company has yet to pay them for the damage. I told her that I photographed in the lower 9th ward and she was very surprised. This was an area that I never would have gone into before the storm.

It is still hard for me to comprehend the damage. In the lower 9th ward, every home has been wiped out. Along Highway 90 in Biloxi, every home on the beach has been wiped out. These were old, antebellum homes. Completely gone from the storm. Incredible.

The entire place feels strange. Even the French Quarter seems odd. It's like they are pretending that nothing happened. But I guess since the FQ is the money maker, they have to do whatever it takes to bring the people back. I hope this is going to be a good Mardi Gras for them. They all need the money.

I will figure out something good to do with this work. I have a meeting next week with a gallery owner here in Santa Fe. No matter, this work will have somewhere for the one year anniversary.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Back in the 9th

It's been another long day. This morning, Jake and I left the hotel at 6:30am and were back in the 9th Ward photographing by 6:45am. We met up with Dennis and Sam and we all continued to roam the ward and shoot as much as possible until the light was too contrasty. Until about 9am or so, the light was amazing. Unfortunately, there was a lot of traffic through the 9th Ward. People are coming through now to see what has happened. I saw license plates from FL, TX, IN, and NY. There was even a tour bus. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole thing.

I shot another 7 rolls of film and Jake shot about two. I will be going home with about 25 rolls of film from the Katrina disaster. I've also been doing some street shooting in the French Quarter and will continue to do more when I am done writing.

It's been a very surreal experiece here. Jake and I have been blown away by what has happened here. We both have a ton of questions. We both have had the same reactions. It is very sad and overwhelming to see hundreds, if not thousands of homes that have been completely ruined. No chance of fixing, jjust rebuilding from scratch.

Hearing the stories Dennis and Sam have to tell are terrifying and unbelievable. Dennis' story of his cat who survived 10 days floating on a box in 8 feet of water is truly heart-breaking (the cat's name is Jack and is doing well).

I am, we are, so happy that we did this. Now we have to do something with the work. Jake and I want to do a show in Santa Fe and/or ABQ I am feeling like I should help Dennis and Sam have a show as well. I will see what I can do.

We leave for Santa Fe tomorrow but I will never forget this experience.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Close Your Eyes...

I just got back from Biloxi. Jake and I hit the road at 6:15am and made it there rather quickly. Jake had the brand new minivan going about 95mph on I-10 east. It was an empty road and we were both ready to shoot.

Well we got off the highway at Gulfport and then headed south to the coast. As we got closer, things got worse. Actually, it is hard to believe what we saw.

The beautiful white beach is now nearly gone. The erosion has taken its toll and the water is now less than 50 yards from the road. The multimillion dollar coastal homes between Gulfport and Biloxi are now completey gone as in, gone. Torn down. Blown down.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

You can't even imagine...

Well today was our first day in New Orleans and it was shocking. We met up with fellow photographer named Sam Portera who took us to the 9th Ward. We left the hotel which is on Bourbon Street at 7am. We were shooting by 7:30am. The light was perfect.

The 9th Ward is absolutely terrifying. I can't believe this is the USA. Unbelievable.

Close your eyes and imagine this:
Homes moved off of their foundations and left in the streets, or onto other houses, or onto cars.

Or how about this. Cars flipped over. Cars on houses. Cars in houses. Washing machings in trees. Clothing everywhere. Shoes everywhere. Childrens toys everywhere.

Fortunately, the smell is gone but the mud/muck that is everywhere is incredibly slick and is filled with who-knows-what? The knee high rubber boots I bought have come in handy.

No photograph, mine or anyone elses, could ever convey the sadness and sheer destruction that took place here. The sights in the 9th ward are simply unbelievable.

I could go on and on but I will save that for another day.

The weather has been perfect. It was a bit overcast this morning but then cleared up nicely. Last night we had a massive thunderstorm pass over us with amazing lightning and booming thunder. The news said a tornado touched down at the airport last night. I believe it.

Jake set a personal and shot about 5 rolls of film. In one day!!! I shot eight. I could have shot more but the scenery is very hard to take. Very emotional. Very frustrating.

We met up in the afternoon with Dennis at Cafe Du Mond, a famous coffee shop. While there we watched a DVD that Dennis made of his photos and will be sending to members of congress to show what is going on here. Like Sam, Dennis lost his house and just about all of his possesions. I can't even imagine.

Well, we are getting up at 5:30am to head out with Dennis to Lakeview,
an upper middle class neighborhood with nice homes that was hit like the 9th Ward.

More later....

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Morning Of

Well it's 8:24am here in Santa Fe and I am all packed and ready to go. I was awakened by a call from a New Orleans photographer/resident who has offered to take us around if we needed.

When asked about what to see, he said we must see the 9th Ward as well as some of the empty FEMA trailer cities. I also asked him about Bush's "State of the Union" speech last night and he said people are livid because out of a 59 minute speech, our leader only had 3 sentences about the Gulf Coast.

This is going to be a very interesting and emotional trip for me.

I will write more when I get in to NOLA tonight.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Plans

All the preparations have been made.

Plane tickets...check.
Hotel reservations...check.
Car Rental....check.

Actually, we are staying at the Royal Sonesta on Bourbon Street so we aren't exactly roughing it.

It is going to be a great, productive trip. Both Jake and I are looking forward to a lot of work.

The plan so far:

Thursday: Meeting Dennis Couvillion at 7am. Dennis is a local photographer and lawyer and he is taking us to various places including the 9th Ward and what is called "Ground Zero". He told us to buy knee high rubber boots because of the "muck". So we did.

Friday: Going around on foot and photographing the French Quarter.

Saturday: Driving to Biloxi and Slidell to photograph the beach areas where ancient Oak trees litter the beach along with household objects. We are told it is a sight to be seen.

Sunday: More time around the French Quarter and the downtown area. Then the Superbowl.

Monday: A last walk-around and hopefully a few more shots of the Mississippi River and then flying home.

I'll be writing nightly so stayed tuned and please feel free to comment and email.