Walking down Bourbon street, with the putrid smell of trash and urine left behind by drunken frat boys and alcoholics alike, I begin to wonder why anyone would put themselves through the misery that is New Orleans. The French Quarter has become a wasteland of misguided youth, street walkers and bums. While it is a great place for street photography, it is most certainly not for the purist or faint of heart. What was once a beautiful place to visit, at least I assume it was, has become a disappointing experience of filth. Yet, somehow I understand the draw of such a place. It’s a place of very little judgement, where lying face down in an intoxicated daze has become a normal everyday occurrence. Where dreams are not present, but escape is evident.
I round the corner to see a man sitting at a piano in the middle of Royal Street, playing his heart out for only a few dollar bills, that have collected in a milk crate sitting on top of the black and ivory keyed box. Instantly I am drawn to this scene, both for the beauty of the composition that he is playing and for the photographic opportunity that has appeared before me. There is strange beauty all over this city in many different forms. If you strip away the grim, self loathing, binge drinking, body fluids, glorified sex clubs and strangeness, you will find a colorful cultural place existing in New Orleans. Voodoo shops filled with vibrant colored dolls, though a little creepy, alongside the brilliant hued boas and mask shops of a year round presents of Mardi Gras. I’m not saying everyone should go to New Orleans, and I’m definitely not saying you should spend much time on Bourbon Street if you do go. What I am saying, is that it’s quite the experience and although I have many other places that I would rather go see, before returning to the French Quarter again, I certainly don’t regret my stay.