Sunday, March 16, 2014

The New Orleans Music Portrait Project

In January I began work on a project to document through studio portraits the musicians of New Orleans across every genre and style. As a lifelong music lover, I'm spoiled to live in a city that produces such a wide spectrum of music, and I believe all of it deserves attention.  Although jazz, blues and R&B get the most press, there's also a rich culture of street music, rock and roll, bounce, hip hop, rap, folk, and brass band players, as well as experimental and electronic music.  I want to shine a spotlight on the people who make this music, one portrait at a time.

This is a completely independent project which I'm currently funding myself with my income from the commercial photography work I do. For various considerations, I'm shooting this entire project on large format (4x5) film with a Calumet view camera, and medium format film with a Hasselblad.  I am developing and hand printing each photo in the darkroom, with digital and Polaroid/Fuji instant shots for reference. I intend this not to be merely a gallery of snapshots, but a collection of handcrafted, expressive portraits that convey something of the personality of each artist.

Below is a selection of images from the project, a mix of negative scans, contact prints, digital reference and Fuji instant film tests (the digital shots are here as placeholders until I have time to develop the film). I've already begun planning for gallery shows and will eventually produce a book of the photos with accompanying text about each artist. Over the course of 2014 I will photograph over 100 artists, from well established veterans to emerging new talent, with more added as musicians themselves make suggestions. When completed, this will be an unparalleled document of a city's musical culture, and one which I believe will be of value for many years to come.

Delfeayo Marsalis, jazz producer and trombonist

Kristin Diable, singer/songwriter

Luke Winslow-King, singer/songwriter

Edward Anderson, jazz trumpeter

Alexandra Scott, singer/songwriter.  

Jamie Bernstein, producer and musician

Robin Barnes, singer

DJ Soul Sister

Maggie Koerner, singer/songwriter

Meschiya Lake, singer

Sunpie Barnes, accordionist

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