Sunday, June 18, 2017

April 7, 2017 My Day as a Volunteer Photographer at French Quarter Fest

Earlier this year I signed up to be a volunteer photographer for the French Quarter Festival. Unlike my previous attempt, this year I was selected to be a photographer. I was so excited to be chosen. But today, I am feeling the pressure to take good photographs. I have taken pictures ever since I was a little kid. All those years of picture taking were just for me. If I ruined what should have been a good photo, I was the only one upset. That all changes today. I am photographing the Cajun/Zydeco Stage from 5pm to 8pm tonight. So I have a few hours to relax and enjoy the festival. I was able to choose which stage I wanted to shoot. I picked the Cajun/Zydeco stage because it is always a party with energetic music that makes everyone dance.

The picture above was taken on the sidewalk down the street from where we are staying in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. It made us laugh every time we walked by because we named our young female dog Nola and she has a destructive streak in her. So it was like she was being shamed for walking in the concrete.

The Audacity Brass Band started our day of music at the Old U.S. Mint.

The streetcar that runs along the river.

The Party Gators from Germany at the International Stage in the French Market.

Chess anyone?

A couple of shots while walking through the French Market.

Gal Holiday & the Honky Tonk Revue.

It's time for a daiquiri...

...and a walk along the river where you can see how it got the nickname, The Big Muddy.

Another perfect weather day. 

Washboard Chaz's country band, Washboard Rodeo.

We always stop at the Cajun/Zydeco stage. This is Cedryl Ballou & the Zydeco Trendsetters.

Back at the International Stage to see Tub, Jug and Washboard Band from Switzerland...

..they had a bunch of people dancing during their set.

WWOZ - The Guardians of the Groove.

The Lagniappe Brass Band

I got a great pretzel from Bratz Y'all!

Two northerners enjoying the New Orleans music and it's fine weather.

A Russian Folk/Punk band from New Orleans. We have seen Debauche several here and in Chicago.

It looks like the band has had some personnel changes...

...but they still are a blast to see live. But I had to get to my "job" as a photographer so I had to leave in the middle of their set.

A big part of my responsibilities as a photographer was to get pictures of the sponsors signs. After that there really wasn't any instructions. So this is the Chevron Cajun Zydeco stage at Bienville Place, where North Peters Street meets Decatur Street.
I liked this slogan. So congrats to Chevron for sponsoring this festival and having a creative idea.

Since it was later in the day, this side of Decatur was in the shade.

Unfortunately, there is very little space in front of the stage. There is a little park with bushes in the triangle created by the merging streets. In the past, people didn't put their chairs right up to the stage. But this year there didn't seem to be any restrictions. So all the dancers were in the street on the side of the stage.

I didn't grow up listening to zydeco or Cajun music. I also didn't dance as a youngster. But ever since my first visit to New Orleans five years ago, I absolutely love this music. Unfortunately I still can not dance. But being surrounded by people dancing while this incredible music plays just brings a smile to my face. It is why I chose this stage to photograph. 

Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band

I spent the next three hours walking around the stage and through the crowd taking pictures, enjoying the music and talking to so many incredible people who just wanted to have fun on the streets of this amazing city. I know the pictures can't duplicate the positive vibe of actually being here, so I hope they at least show enough to make you want to go to New Orleans and be a part of it someday.

Sunpie & The Louisiana Sunspots

I love how anyone can jump in and dance. If you don't have a partner, just hold out your hand and someone will take it and dance with you.

To be honest I had a lot of issues with the shadows and bright spots. I was also mad at myself for missing so many great shots for multiple reasons. These are the best photos of almost 450 I took in just over three hours. I was constantly changing the settings to get the best balance of light and dark.

If anyone knows this wonderful lady, please give her my blog address. She was one of several people that asked where they could see my photographs. I gave her and everyone that asked my e-mail address but she never contacted me.

This city has so many wonderful people and traditions. I wished her a Happy Birthday and gave her a dollar because just last year I learned that if you have money pinned to you it is your birthday and people say Happy Birthday and give you another dollar to pin on.

I do like this city's unique buildings as a background for these crowd shots.

I love cities where everyone is welcome to just be themselves and then everyone fits in without standing out.

No other city I have visited has music so ingrained in it's soul as New Orleans.

OK, some people do stand out here. I love this city because every aspect of it is so colorful.

People dancing more than a city block away from the stage. And yes, you can still hear the music from here. Actually at this location, you can hear the music from the Jack Daniels Stage too.

I know there are a ton of photos of the dancers. But I had so much fun being a small part of this group, that I couldn't stop taking pictures. If anyone wants better quality versions of any pictures I took of you. Email me at

Amanda Shaw autographing a fiddle for an auction.

Then showing why she was the headliner tonight on this stage.

It got very crowded after 8pm. So I wandered around trying to get a few shots after dark.

Behind the Cajun/Zydeco stage.

One last shot of the stage and the city.

Chrissy found me and we walked back to our place in Marigny. Somewhere along the way we found a place for dessert. Of course we did. This is New Orleans. Goodnight you wonderful and beautiful city.