Nothing's Easy in Cheryl Gerber's Big Easy

Too often, photo books on New Orleans have a simple editorial stance. New Orleans is resilient. New Orleans is eccentric. New Orleans is noble. New Orleans is … you name it, and while each of those stances is right, each is only part of the story. That approach undersells the city’s rich and complicated nature. Photographer Cheryl Gerber’s New Orleans: Life and Death in the Big Easy not only honors the often contradictory character of New Orleans but makes it the book’s central theme. 

An Unfocused "Homage"

In the months after Hurricane Katrina, I remember talking to a writer who speculated that it would be more than a decade before The Times-Picayune would go a week without the word “Katrina” appearing. He didn’t say it cynically. He rightly recognized Katrina as such a momentous event that we would continue to deal with its aftermath for at least a decade. At the moment, all skepticism is valid as the barrage of tenth anniversary coverage feels like overkill no one asked for that doesn’t illuminate anything new.

Voodoo: Zack Smith's Quiet Place

Photographer Zack Smith loves to set up photo booths and document not the moment but the people who were in it. In 2007, he made one in Carrollton Station with a stationary camera pointed at a very well-lit box into which fans put their faces for two shots - one a big smile and one dead serious. Caddywhompus was playing, and he wanted a record not of the bands but of the new audience that supported them.