Our first full day in a city; I woke-up excited to explore New Orleans. While the kids enjoyed the complimentary breakfast (aka waffles with all sorts of toppings, none of which were remotely healthy), I whipped out my homemade photo scavenger hunt (yes, I am a dork). They took the bait - we caught a streetcar to the French Quarter to begin our adventure. Admittedly I had an ulterior motive, the photo scavenger hunt was meant as a distraction, keeping the kids busy while I leisurely snapped photos of the city. It was all going well, with minimal complaining, until my older daughter spotted a rat on the sidewalk. That, coupled with the humidity and heat were starting to take its toll. Even the snacks I brought weren’t working, they had figured me out and it was time for a revolt. An uprising occurred, finding strength in numbers, the three siblings banded together and called it quits. Hot, hungry, and sweating from places I didn’t even know could sweat, I found myself unable to regain control of the situation. I marched the hangry (maybe that terrible breakfast was coming back to bite me) soldiers towards the French Market watching photo opp after photo opp pass me by. Eventually, we found shade, food, and seating. My children learned a valuable lesson...working together they can over-power me (but don’t tell them I said that). I too learned a valuable lesson, this trip was going to be more about family time and less about photography.
After food and water brought us back from the dark side of hangry, we hopped on a streetcar and made our way to Mardi Gras World. We had been to New Orleans once before when the kids were much younger, my husband (he joins us later in the trip) insisted that this would be fun for the kids despite the fact that we had already been previously. I have to say it was fun the first time, but once is enough. I found myself uninspired and only took a few photos inside the warehouse.
All was not lost however, I did walk away with one of my favorite photos from New Orleans which I took outside of Mardi Gras World. It is by no means a “typical” New Orleans photo highlighting the French and Spanish Architecture, or street musicians on the street. The windows make a magnificent frame for the reflection of the blue sky against the clean white building. A small blue cup sits alone on the stairs acting as a bridge between the blue in the reflection to the white building. The funny thing is, I didn’t even notice the blue cup when I took the photo - I was drawn to the reflection of the blue sky in the window. It wasn’t until I was in the editing room, many weeks later, that I noticed the blue cup. It somehow completes the photo, acting as an anchor. The fact that the cup is off-set, sitting to the right of the middle of the frame makes the composition work, if it had been lined up in the middle with the doors it wouldn’t be as interesting of a photo. Without the blue cup, your eye gets stuck in the photo and can’t figure out where to focus (check it out on Facebook for a side by side comparison).
We headed back to our hotel for lunch in the room (thanks to our plug-in cooler I had gone shopping at home and planned for a few meals in the room). After some rest, food, and AC, we were ready to venture out. We took the streetcar again, which the kids loved, and headed for the Insectarium. I usually like to get to places early, especially on the weekends to beat the lines, at the Insectarium I was reminded that this is indeed a good strategy. After waiting in a long line, we finally got to the front and were met by a security checkpoint. I guess because the Insectarium is in a federal building they have to have security. As I’m emptying out the contents of my backpack, the guard tells me no insect repellent is allowed in the building. Seriously. We are in the South, in New Orleans (lots of water - breeding ground for mosquitoes), in the middle of the summer, and I can’t have bug spray? I try handing it to the guard, but oh no, he can’t take it - I have to leave it OUTSIDE the building. The guard pointed to one corner of the room and then to the other and said it cannot be left anywhere from “here to there”. I dashed outside, leaving the kids at the security checkpoint, cursing under my breath as we are now holding up the long line, all because of freakin’ bug spray - the irony of it all as we are going inside a building filled with bugs. I threw it into the trash can outside the building and ran back. The security guard then asks me if I threw it in the trash can outside the building to which I respond, “Yes” and he responds in his southern drawl, “Ma’am, that trash can is on federal property so you will need to deposit it somewhere else.” First of all, this California girl does NOT like to be called Ma’am. Second of all, seriously? I ran back outside (we are still holding up the line), reached INTO the trash can took the #$%*ing bug spray out, placed it on the sidewalk off federal property, ran back in (I’m now sweating profusely, mostly from embarrassment/anger), and faced the security guard. He then asks me where I put the bug spray, to which I did not respond with what I wanted to say, but instead, I replied, “Out on the sidewalk, NOT on federal property.”
Eventually, we made it into the Insectarium. We ended up having a great time, eating waxworms and crickets, touching some nasty creatures, and we even saw some cool butterfly and beetle artwork. While we may have started the day off divided, we ended the day united all thanks to some insect repellant and a security guard who was very good at his job. That night we enjoyed a delicious dinner at Katie’s Restaurant and Bar followed by a leisurely ride home on the streetcar.
While New Orleans didn’t rank among anyone’s favorite stop, we sure had a lot of fun (and funny) memories from our visit. One day I will go back (by myself) to photograph the city as there are so many streets to explore and so much history to capture. Out of the seventy-three photos I took in New Orleans I have about three or four that will make it into portfolios.