Welcome to our 5th annual Photo Issue. In reviewing the past four editions, I noticed a lot of common themes in this intro throughout the years, so let’s just run through these greatest hits real quick, shall we?
- It’s too hot for words. Literally. While we wouldn’t deprive you of your horoscopes or some great music and book reviews, it’s just too miserable out there to focus on the usual avalanche of copy in each issue of, so we’ll let all of these beautiful images do the heavy lifting this month (and we might’ve still snuck in a feature or two).
- It’s a strange time for the craft of photography. The internet, social media, and personal digital technology has made everyone fancy themselves a photographer, making it all the more difficult for professionals and artists to carve out a niche for themselves. As a result, photography has never been more devalued, yet more accessible at the same time. The technology has never been more advanced, yet more disposable. It’s a shame that a late model DSLR camera these days will never have the shelf life of an old film camera. Some of these models, decades old, still fire as reliably as they did when they came out. Just ask my Nikon N90, standing by and ready for action. They are also, in theory, repairable. A $4,000 top of-the-line Canon, bought today, will succumb to obsolescence (and rather quickly at that), its sensor as useless as a laser disc. Still, let’s get one thing straight: it ain’t the camera that takes a beautiful, compelling image. It’s the individual behind it, and I’m happy to report that this issue features everything from cell phone pictures to Polaroids, analog film to digital, veterans to up-and-comers.
- Photographers are weird. We seem to breathe best in a kind of purgatory, whether it’s the no man’s land between crowd and stage, or the shadows surrounding a lit studio space. A photographer’s brain is too active to feel content as a casual spectator, yet too shy to seek the limelight. By and large, I find the best photographers to be obsessive types, driven by some manic desire to preserve the moment, with just that specific tool. As always, thank you to the dozen-plus contributors who came out of their shells enough this month to participate in this installment.
One thing I love about this issue is if you looked at it a hundred years from now, it would tell you so much about New Orleans during this time. And because it’s August, I’m glad we have a chance to slow down and catch up. We see a lot of great images every month from our beloved roster, but usually we have to pass on more than a few for any number of reasons. For example, I would typically never want to print a photograph featuring a pro-Confederate monument supporter. Fuck that expired ideology and its accompanying symbols; and during any other month, I wouldn’t want to give it any real estate in this particular publication. But for this issue, considering again that hazy hundred-year future moment, where somehow this issue still survived—would you say it told part of the story of New Orleans in 2017? Yes, it does, and presented in a way (my editorializing aside) that lets the viewer decide for themselves how they feel about it.
The obsession to document is easily tied to our quest for some kind of shared immortality. We all hope it will preserve something about us, leave some note behind. But how long will our story last? The best, most secure documentation will eventually be vaporized, either by man-made or celestial means. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, snapshot to silver particle, all just floating in space. Damn, is that the heat talking again? No matter, we’re here now, and hopefully that’s good enough. Enjoy this issue; it speaks volumes about our current time and place.
Cover photo: Laura Borealis at Small Mart (photo: Beau Patrick Coulon)