Jazzfest (2 months late)

For the past few years Keri and I have driven to New Orleans in the spring for Jazzfest.  It is possibly the best trip we go on each year.  We love the music, the city, the friends, and of course the food.   If you haven't been, I can't recommend it enough.  This year was a bit different in that I was only able to go to the 'fest one day due to travel restrictions.  In addition to that, the one day I went... it was cold, windy, and rainy.  It took a normally slower Friday (versus Saturday) and forced most people to pack into the few spots of dry land.  The rest of the people were relegated to mud sloppin'.  So, overall, not the best experience, but we still got see a few great acts and eat some amazing food.









Sasha Masakowski




 Brushy One-String




 Ana Popovic




Jazzfest, Day 2

With the late night show Friday night keeping me out until roughly 5am, I was much less ambitious with photos on my second day at JazzFest.  Not to mention there were easily 30% more people on Saturday vs. Friday meaning that if I wanted to push my way up to the front of some of the more popular stages (CeeLo, Tom Petty), it would mean telling Keri and my friends goodbye for the next few hours.  I decided to spend most of my time sticking around my friends and snapping photos of some of the people of JazzFest.  It's funny that one of the common themes I found throughout the day was lots of love in the air.  Coupled with the engagement I saw on Friday, there were lots of lovey-dovey people all over!  It was all really sweet to me.  While I came for the music and the food, others came for love- maybe just bringing couples closer together.  I decided to feature some of of here in addition to the shows I caught.

Though these next two in these photos aren't together, Alex and Allie just got married in October and are a very awesome couple... especially since they bought matching RayBans at the 'fest.  :)

Now for other photos.  Here is Feist on the Gentilly Stage:

Carolina Chocolate Drops:

New Orleans Bingo Show on The Gentilly Stage:

Greetings from New Orleans!

Though I still have plenty of photos from London to share, I decided my blog time would be better spent live blogging.  Wednesday, Keri and I traveled for 17 hours on planes, trains, and automobiles to get from London to Atlanta.  We did laundry, slept, re-packed, and left the next morning for JazzFest in New Orleans!  I love vacations like these, but I will say the lack of sleep is finally catching up with me.  I noticed it at about 2am last night at the Anders Osborne late night show at the Republic.

I've posted about JazzFest before, here and here.  This year was no different.  Keri and I joined some awesome friends down here at hit the stages yesterday with plans to hit them again today in about an hour.  I have figured out a pretty good system in order to get good pics while also spending time with the group.  I'll pick the shows I want to see and when the band hits their first few notes I'll walk straight up to the stage with my Canon 5d and 70-200mm lens, stay for 2 songs, then get out of there before security gets annoyed with all of the photographers crowding the stage.  The trick is to walk with the lens in the air looking like I belong there making no eye contact with anyone- just focus on the spot at the stage you're aiming for.  The lens in the air serves two purposes- one is to show the bouncers that you have the right equipment and the other is to somewhat block their view of my face and the fact that I have no credentials.  The best one yesterday was going to see Bon Iver- the closing show for the day at one of the main stages.  It was pretty slammed,  but I was able to sneak past security using these tactics so easily that I almost blew my cover by stopping short before the stage.  Instead, I had to go full throttle and get right up to the stage in one quick move, otherwise my cover would be blown.  I snapped enough photos for 2 songs or so and go out of there before I was kicked out.  I knew I didn't want to make myself known in case I wanted to get up there today.   It all worked like a charm!


Bon Iver:

Slavic Soul Party:

Eric Lindell:

Chuck Leavell:

... and randomly saw a girl get engaged and run to tell her friends, so I naturally snapped a few shots and congratulated her.  It was really sweet and I hope she emails me so I can send these to her!

Company of Thieves & GIAC @ Vinyl Atlanta

Something that may not be a surprise to you is that I love music.  I've been playing in a band for a few years with good friends and I love seeing live shows whenever I can.  When I attend shows around town, I always try [when I remember ahead of time] to work a trade deal with one of the bands playing:  put me on the list, and I'll shoot and I'll give you photos for your website.  Though it's a bit more work for me than it is for them, I love taking photos and seeing shows for free.  :)  Most of all, I know that I'm supporting musicans at a time where it is increasingly hard to live on the income.  I can speak to it first hand that trying to make money on your music is nearly impossible- between producing an album and EP, instrument repair and replacement, and gas money our band is well in the hole... but we love it and we still do it.  Knowing that I can mix my photography passion with my music passion gives me all kinds of warm and fuzzies on the inside.  Here are photos from a recent shoot with Company of Thieves and Girl in a Coma at Vinyl Atlanta.  The lighting was pretty tough in here, so I ended up mostly with singer photos.  The next show I shoot at Vinyl, I plan to try and work out some lighting... or invest in a camera with better ISO performance.


This baby is not crying, she's singing Journey's Greatest Hits.

"Just a small town girl... livin' in a lonely world," she started off.  From those few epic lyrics, I knew Kate Tucker was destined to be rock's one great hope.   She will [eventually] be what the world of rock music needs to save itself from the pop divas (yes Adam Levine, I'm talking about you) currently ruling the airwaves.  With rock radio stations dying at an alarming rate and rock record sales in sharp decline, Kate Tucker will save it all.  Though she barely has enough hair to tease and hairspray, she has some very healthy vocal cords and a desire to ROCK (note below, her hands are both making the Sign of the Horns).  It's just too bad she's still roughly 17.9 years away from being able to go on tour without her parents... just don't stop believin'.


... and now for the rest of Kate Tucker's Christmas/newborn family photos.  :)






New Alex The Photo Guy site is LIVE!

I've owned the domain since college.  Three years ago I re-upped it's registration and I contracted my good friend Greg Vilines at Webnormous to begin work on the site.   Then a combination of producing an album, playing in a band, get married, and having his house burn down slowed Greg's progress on the site a bit.  A combination of helping with the album, buying a house, running a photo business, general laziness, and getting engaged slowed me down too.  I know my excuses aren't as valid as a house fire, but regardless of the timing, it is finally LIVE! Greg built the whole thing from scratch and he did a damn good job on it.  I know I was a difficult client at times but in the end we got it all worked out.  There will be a few tweaks made in the coming months, but since it's 99% done, we figured why not launch it?  This will be a soft opening for my six blog readers and facebook friends until I get it 100% finished.

Keep in mind the new site isn't going to be a replacement for the blog- just think of it as a "best of Alex the Photo Guy."  I'll still keep you up to date with my crazy photo antics here on the blog, so don't stop reading!

Let me know what you think!  Many thanks again to Greg who did all the hard work.  All I did was take a few photos.  If you need a website, let me know and I'll get you in contact with Webnormous.

JAZZFEST!!! (part 2)

Now that I've gone through the music, I figured I'd share the people, food, and city.   Though the next couple of pictures are really from a music group, I included them in "people" because they are a people.  Last year I saw the Mardis Gras Indians perform and really just thought they were a fun family band.  However, I was missing a lot of the story.  Apparently the Mardis Gras Indians are real tribes of African Americans spread throughout New Orleans.  They originiated in the mid 19th century circumventing some of the worst racial segregation laws by representing themselves as Indians.  It's really interesting and you can read more here.

Click the link below for more photos! 

As I'm primarily a people photographer (I can't take a landscape photo to save my life), I figured it would be fun to get some random candids of people at the fest.  Here are a few.


And now onto the food.  One of the other best things about Jazzfest (there are many "best" things about Jazzfest) is the food!  There's not a hot dog or burger in sight.  However, while there I did eat:  crawfish bread, red beans and rice, crawfish monica, white chocolate bread pudding, indian tacos, strawberry shortcake, and a couple of specialty teas.  I wish I had room for more!  Sadly I didn't think to take pics of everything I ate, but I did come away with these two photos.


Boiled crawfish:

And as a bonus- my favorite photo of the weekend.  Keri being eaten by a crawfish.

Friday we took the day off of Jazzfest and explored New Orleans.  Though not at the top of everyone's list, I wanted to see the 9th Ward as I've heard it's still pretty desolate due to natives not being able to return to the city.  Driving around there with my tour guide, Caroline we were able to see some of the neighborhoods that still haven't been rebuilt.  Here are a couple of photos of some houses still boarded up.  I didn't really want to get out and walk around, so the 9th Ward photos are limited.  The spraypaint code on the first two photos is from the national guard to note when they checked the houses after the floodwaters subsided.  

After the 9th Ward, we walk around the French Quarter and I snapped these photos.


And now the final picture is accompanied by an uplifting story Caroline told us.  This statue of Jesus is in a courtyard of a church in the French Quarter.  She said before Katrina made landfall, the expected path of the eye of the hurricane was to travel directly down Canal street and destroy downtown and the French Quarter.  Apparently Katrina changed her path and although nearly drowned the city, downtown was relatively safe.  While Hurricane Katrina did not affect the French Quarter as profoundly as other parts of New Orleans, the high winds managed to displace two large oak trees in St. Anthony's Garden behind the Cathedral. The trees dislodged thirty feet of ornamental gate, while the nearby marble statue of Jesus Christ lost only a forefinger and a thumb.  So, the thought is that Jesus "flicked" the Hurricane away from the French Quarter.  Sadly I didn't have a zoom lens with me to get close enough, you can see someone else's photo of Jesus's hands here.


Alright, I usually try not to use too many exclamation marks unless I'm really excited (or emailing a potential bridezilla).  However, I really do love Jazzfest in New Orleans.   It's the perfect mix of my favorite things in life- music, food, friends, and late nights of fun in the Big Easy.   In fact, they say that the best thing about Jazzfest is that when you leave Jazzfest, you're still in New Orleans.  Keri and I went last year and had an amazing time.  This time more of our friends were able to make it and all fit into a 2 bedroom shotgun house Uptown on Magazine street hosted by an amazing newly engaged couple (soon to be the Stedmans). 

Click the link below for more!

We'll start with the music.  Jazzfest is so big, it goes on for two weekends.  It is hosted at the Fair Grounds Race Course near City Park.  There are 11 stages ranging from Jazz, Blues, Rock, African, and Bluegrass music- so no matter who you are, there is music for you.  The fest goes from 11am to 7pm each day.  The beautiful thing there is that you have enough time to get home, shower, and eat before you consider your options for late night shows.  Clubs and bars all around town become flush with musicians all night long.  Most shows start around 10pm, but you do have the occasional 2:30am start time.  Keri and I heard Trombone Shorty and his band at 2:30am last year... needless to say the next morning at Jazzfest was rough.

This year we saw a number of acts during the day on Thursday and Saturday.  My personal highlight was early in the day Thursday when we were at the Lagniappe Stage (very few stages were easy to pronounce).  The Lagniappe Stage was one of the smaller stages, so it was easy for me to walk right up to the front and snap some pictures with my 5d and 70-200mm.  While I was there, I snapped this photo.

In addition to getting a few photos of the Mark Miller Band, I happened to catch a glimpse of something laying in the dirt at the edge of the stage... and it was an artist's backstage pass for the Lagniappe Stage!  It was cool that I found it, but there really was no need for a special pass at this stage.  The crowd was thin enough to get some close up shots. 

However, with a big ass camera, confidence, and something that looks like a backstage pass, you can just about get anywhere.  So our group headed to the Gentilly Stage for Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.  When we arrived at the stage, we were surprised how packed it was for a 2:30pm show.  Apparently Steve Martin's immense TV and movie fame have been great for his music career.  There were very few spots for us to lay down a blanket, so we settled in toward the back in between a bunch of lawn chairs with a slight view of a big screen.  Once we got situated, I decided to try out my newly found artist pass (for another stage).  I made sure the camera  was in front of me as I charged through the crowd.  I worked my way all the way through to the front of the stage, passing two security guards who had no issues with me.  I jumped into the photo pit (literally a shoelace grab away from Steve Martin)... then I ran into this guy.  Not sure what his name was, but I could tell "you don't mess with Fess." 

After Mr. Fess literally charged at me like a warthog yelling "YOU! GET OUT!" I decided to step out of the pit.  I had a sticker that looked legit, but I couldn't fake the "photo pass" wrist bands everyone in the pit had on.  Luckily all I had to do was step just outside of the photo pit, which was still incredibly close to the stage.  From there I was able to snap these of of Steve:  


Steve and his "$500 set list" (an iPad) which included the song "King Tut."



After Steve Martin, Greg and I decided to take a little cat nap while the girls went to the port-o-potties and to get some food.  Once sound check was over, I jumped back up and headed again to the same spot for Elvis Costello.

There were some other shows we saw on Thursday, including the Paulin Brothers which was followed by a parade of the Paulin Brothers.

And in addition to these great bands, we also saw Blues Traveller in the blues tent (of all places- I know!).  This was another one where I just walked right up to the front with my large lens and no one argued.  It was awesome.

Now that you've seen the music photos, up next is the people, food, and city...