Sunday, October 19, 2008


We’re back in Minnesota and it’s cold here! Since we got back it’s been extremely busy. I started classes right away on Monday and have been going non stop since then. Today however, I’ve had a solitude day and the opportunity to sit down and reflect on my experience in New Orleans.

Sitting down and thinking made me realize how lucky I am. For beginners, I’m grateful for the opportunity to go to New Orleans and to my Grandma Betty, who paid for my trip. I’m grateful for all of the generosity that we encountered while staying in New Orleans. I’m only nineteen, but in my nineteen years of living I have never come across so many genuinely kind and courteous people.

I especially want to recognize all of the people that I met at the four shelters that I went to. All of these people have a passion for these animals and live day in and out for them. I can’t even begin to describe the influence that these people have on the animals.

Although I’m grateful I just can’t get the animals out of my head. I’m sure some of them have found homes, hopefully good ones. Unfortunately, I’m also sure that more haven’t. They’re still there waiting out their fate. Not only in New Orleans, but everywhere in the world. It has been brought to my attention that more than 2,000,000 dogs are euthanized in shelters EVERY year. That’s not including cats and other animals. FIX YOUR PETS PEOPLE!!!!

Science proves every day that animals are smarter than we have originally given them credit for. They are part of our culture. The animals of New Orleans are a true embodiment of surviving souls. I will never forget the animals I met. Their spirits will remain with me eternally.


I almost forgot to blog about my last day in New Orleans. On my last day in New Orleans I went back to photograph at the LSPCA. They were having a special day sponsored by PBS where the children got the oppurtunity to read to the dogs. It was a positive experience for the most part. It was a little dissapointing because the kids mostly played, colored, and read to themselves. There wasn't as much interaction with the dogs as I had hoped for, but it was still great to be there. I also saw some animals find homes, which was great to see. Sadly though, at the same time, there were twice as many animals being brought in that were found on the streets or just not wanted anymore.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Today started like every other morning at 5:45. I went with Anthony and shot in the French Quarter. We walked around and saw some pretty interesting things. Then we went to the zoo. I saw giraffes, rhinos, pink flamingos, alligators (green and white), really big turtles, monkeys...ect. The coolest part was when I got to pet the elephant. I think the last time I was near an elephant was at the circus when I was young.

After having this child like experience, it was time to get serious again and do some shooting for my project. Becky and Colleen went with me to the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter. I did my thing and photographed the shelter. I was in shock pretty much the whole time because of the stories that Jen had. Jen was the lady that showed me around the shelter. As we were walking and I was photographing, she told me about the backgrounds of several of the dogs. There was a pitbull there with a burn straight down his back because his owner lit his back on fire. He wanted the dog to become more tolerant to pain for fighting. There was another dog there because the neighbor (who was a cop,) was trying to kill it by throwing poisoned meat over the fence. I could go on, but I won't. After some of these disheartening stories, I felt as if I was just going through the motions and clicking the button. This entire week has been an emotional roller coaster. For the most part, I have been able to keep my emotions to myself, but after today I came to my room and I lost it. I cannot believe the cruelty that some people have towards animals. People suck.

I made the comment that I wish my computer would just blow up and then I wouldn't have to look at those photographs ever again. Then I quickly realized how stupid this was. What if I didn't have this experience tonight? I've always known that people can be cruel to animals, but tonight I saw the worst cases of neglect and abuse than I have ever seen before . There's no more denying it for me. Hopefully once other people see these photographs, they become painfully aware and feel the need to do something, as much as I feel the need to photograph these helpless animals that have no voice for themselves.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thursday October 2nd

It seems like the days just get better and better. Today we went to Baton Rouge and met with Thomas Neff at LSU. He's a photographer that is popular for his book on Katrina called "Holding out and Hanging on." He went through a slide show of some of his images that he took during Hurricane Katrina. The stories that went with these images almost brought me to tears. When we were through with the slides he showed us some of his actual prints. Thomas Neff shoots large format, I believe he said 5x7, so the quality is ideal. When we were through we bought his book and he signed it for us. Once again it was an unbelievable experience.

Last minute we decided to go to the LSPCA shelter. It was HUGE. I met with Gloria who walked with me and talked to me as I photographed. It was a great place with very nice people. They have wonderful art on the wall by children and professionals. It was a happy environment to walk into. It's a spotless shelter. They have a ventilation system for the dogs and cats that live there. It was interesting to hear about their spay and neuter center for the animals. They have a mobile vehicle that offers low cost spay and neutering. I thought that was pretty cool. They also have two air conditioned trucks in case they need to evacuate all of the animals for a hurricane, which they did for Katrina and Gustav. I was only there for about 25 minutes and I met the CEO! I'm excited to be going back this saturday for when they have some kids coming to read to the dogs. How cool is that!?
The conflict is interesting between the shelters. The man with 290 dogs runs a no kill shelter and so does ARNO, but the LSPCA DOES euthanize their pets. I don't believe in euthanizing pets, but it's hard to see which side I stand on now. The animals at the LSPCA were cleaner, had more oppurtunity, and maybe a little happier. To be perfectly honest, I don't know if the 290 dogs stand a chance at adoption at the other shelter, but I'm not sure if euthanizing is a better option.
When I was finished shooting at the LSPCA, Colleen picked me up in the mini van and we got on the ferry to come back to the hotel. It was a nice view of the city.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Times Picayune

I can't believe we're already done with day four! The time is going way too fast. This morning we photographed the Holy Cross area. I saw my first boat house which was pretty neat. I was looking for an actual house boat on the water, but turns out it's just a cool looking house on land.

Today we went to hang out with some Times Picayune photojournalists. I say it so nonchalant but it was a BIG deal. I don't know how to put into words how cool it was. I feel so fortunate to have been able to have the experience that I did today. We split into groups with four of the photographers that work for the paper. Amanda and I went with Jennifer Zdon. They drove us around New Orleans and let us ask all of the questions we wanted. Amanda had most of the questions because she is graduating and going into the photojournalism field. Jennifer asked us about our projects and gave us some insight on what she knew about our topics. Not only did we learn a lot but they gave all of us a copy of "The Times-Picayune, Katrina" book. It's a beautiful book and has a lot of their own work from Katrina.

This Afternoon we went to the Chalmette Battlefield, where the War of 1812 was fought. We had the oppurtunity to photograph the Chalmette Monument, the Malus-Beauregard House, and the Chalmette National Cemetary.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Emotional Side

When I decided to do my Essay on animal shelters, I was a little skeptical. There’s something about animals without homes that is very hard for me to cope with. I’ve been around animals all of my life. I grew up with Clydesdale horses, my pony, cows, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, you name it. When I was a child I even wanted to be an elephant foot doctor. This was until I realized that there was no such thing. I also grew up with parents that rescued every animal in sight. Both of my parents are animal lovers, but my dad is especially. He’s even gone as far as to take the neighbor barn cats and have them all fixed. As you can see, I grew up having nothing but love and understanding for all animals. I even have trouble with deer hunting (although I realize it needs to be done, I don’t want to be the one to do it), To see any animal sad, in pain, or dead is extremely hard for me. I guess where I’m going with this is to one simple story. Today we were photographing and there were two dogs sharing a kennel. I knew immediately when I saw them that they weren’t at all happy. John Thornton went on to explain that they belonged to an old women who couldn’t take care of herself. She ended up in a nursing home where she couldn’t have her dogs, and gave them to John. As a dog owner, I realize the attachment of a dog owner and their dog. You love and treat them as a part of your family and they love and treat you the same. So for these dogs to have all the love in the world, and then go to a shelter with 288 other dogs, is depressing for them.
That’s just one story. I’m not saying that they were the only dogs I felt sorry for. All of these dogs have their own story, whether their owners were killed in Katrina, or they weren‘t potty trained so their owner took them to a shelter. They have a story and they deserve a home regardless of their background.

Day Three

Today I photographed at Raven Woods Animal Sanctuary located in Roseland Louisiana. It was a long drive, but Colleen was gracious and drove me out there anyways. The shelter is a no kill, non profit shelter with 290 dogs. It was insane. All of the dogs are current in vaccinations. John Thornton runs the entire shelter by himself. Leila Baldridge, who lives about an hour and a half from John, also tries to help out when she can, but otherwise it's a one man show.

John started helping animals in 1994, with just a couple of dogs that he wanted to help. Eventually by 2003, those couple of dogs turned into about forty dogs. In attempt to find these dogs homes, his wife made him start a sanctuary. When people learned about the sanctuary they started to bring dogs to John, instead of adopting the animals. Ultimately, John would love for these animals to find homes, but he just keeps adding space as neccesary. Although, today he mentioned that he was done adding on kennels. He even has 14 dogs in his house, one pit bull in the bathroom, and a bunch of dogs on the porch.

John was a very nice and easy man to talk to. He has an obvious love and passion for these dogs that I respect. I think what he's doing is wonderful but a little overwhelming. He does a great job keeping up his shelter and caring for these dogs. They are safe and clean, but maybe not so happy. These dogs really need to find homes.

On Sunday, when we went to Animal Rescue New Orleans, it was such a different environment. They probably had all of 20 dogs, and 6 volunteers. In fact the volunteers almost appeared bored as they fumbled through newspapers. I found it to be interesting that they had too much help, and John can't get any.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Morning of Day Two

This is Fema the dog. I met him this morning during our sunrise shoot. He was just hanging out in the neighborhood (lower 9th ward). We were photographing the Make it Right Foundation homes, when I saw him wondering around.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

First day in New Orleans

Our first full day in New Orleans has been amazing! Some of us started shooting at sunrise and the lighting was beautiful. We went on a bus tour as well and saw a lot of New Orleans. Our bus tour guide was very informative. It was hard to take in all of the information. It was also hard to believe all of the damage that still remains from Katrina, and the new damage from Hurricane Gustav. People who have been here before have told me that there's still major damage left from Hurricane Katrina, but now it's clear to me how bad it really is. It's hard to understand unless you really see it for yourself, and now I have.
Later this afternoon I shot at Animal Rescue New Orleans. It was my first shoot with an animal shelter in New Orleans and was a positive experience. ARNO is a small, no kill shelter. My favorite part was when I got to photograph Jill Fox and her soon to be dog, Salvador. Salvador was found under a home in New Orleans. Jill mentioned that he had to of had an owner because he's so good with people and he knows how to sit. Jill's a volunteer at ARNO. When Salvador recovers from his heartworm he gets to live with Jill's father, until she's finished getting her master's degree, and then Salvador will live with Jill permanently.
My day of shooting ended with sunset, and just like the sunrise, it was awesome.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pawprints of Katrina

I also wanted to mention that I started to read "Pawprints of Katrina". It's a 236 page book all about the rescue of animals after Katrina. Hopefully it will help me to have more insight on my subjects.


I've been contacting different animal shelters and organizations like crazy for the past two weeks. I've called and emailed the LSCPA, The Parish of Jefferson Animal Shelter, Southern Animal Foundation , and Animal Rescue New Orleans. As of last Friday, I hadn't heard back from anyone, and the people I had talked to were too overwhelmed from Gustav, to have someone photograph. Today I called Animal Rescue New Orleans for the second time and I actually got through to someone. Her name was Charlotte and she is more than happy to let me photograph at their shelter! It was a good start to my Monday and hopefully my luck continues as I call more people.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Photo Essays

Rob Finch is one of my favorite photo journalists.  He has a lot of great photo essays.  If you just go to, you can check out all of his work  One of my favorites stories is Finch's "Living to the End."  A story about a women who choses when she wants to die.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

When the Levees Broke

This movie was vital to watch. When the Levees Broke reiterated a lot of coverage that I have already seen, but with more passion. It was more realistic and informative because the storm was covered through the points of views of people who actually experienced Katrina.
I never really thought hard enough about the total effect of Katrina, afterwards. I realize that people lost their homes and belongings. More importantly people lost their friends, family, and pets. If I were to sit there and watch one of my family members die, I don’t know what I would do. There are people whose health has gone downhill: people who can’t sleep at night because they can’t get the image of their mothers, fathers, daughters, or sons, dying out of their heads: people who can’t function properly without depression pills: people who were separated from their families and never got a chance to say goodbye. These are things that continuously run through my mind, especially after watching this video and hearing about some of the losses.
There was one woman, who was a lawyer, in the third act that explained how she and her husband had been educated well and were doing good before Katrina. They went from leading this good life to having nothing at all. Nothing mattered, not even their education. Another man explained that people think they know what they’ll do in a time of tragedy, but when tragedy strikes, there‘s no way to be prepared. I found this interesting because people work so hard to live. Like the rest of use, A lot of these people have spend their whole lives trying to earn enough money to make a living and in the end it doesn’t really matter, which leads me to my next point.
I have read and heard a lot about Katrina, but one thing that I was oblivious to, was how badly insurance companies cooperated with the hurricane victims. I couldn’t believe it. Especially the one eighty-year old man who had been with his insurance company for fifty years and paid his bills, and he didn’t even get back what half of his house was worth. I realize this is reality, but it stinks. After eighty years, he essentially has to start from scratch.
Towards the end of the film they show people celebrating Mardi Gras. It was hard for me to understand at first why they would even bother, but after what I’ve stated above, I can’t imagine anything else more necessary.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


As I was sitting at the Acme Comedy Club tonight, laughing and having a good time, my mom was texting my phone like crazy with an update on hurricane Gustav. Apparently thousands of people have to evacuate their homes by tomorrow at 8:00 a.m., and there I sat content and as happy as can be. The world is a strange place.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Essay Ideas

-- Animal Shelters
* Follow an animal finding a home.
1) Establishing outside shot of shelter.
2) Environmental shot of inside of shelter.
3) Specific area that they live in.
4) Portrait with new owner.
5) Follow them home.
* Day in the life of a volunteer.
* Photograph the three main shelters and then changes that they’ve undergone.
- Louisiana Spca Animal Shelter- 701 Thayer St. (504) 368-5191
- Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter- 1 Humane Way (504) 736-6111
- Southern Animal Foundation- 1823 Magazine St. (504) 671-8235
- ARNO Animal Rescue New Orleans (504) 571- 1900
-- Nursing homes/ Hospitals
* Day in the life of a nurse.
* Day in the life of a resident.
* Find someone who was injured in Katrina and show the struggles that they’ve undergone. Maybe an amputee since my father is one and I feel like I could somewhat relate.
- Chateau De Notre Dame Nursing Home-(504) 866-2741
- Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans: University Campus- (504) 903-3000
- St. Margaret’s Daughters’ Nursing Home-(504) 279-6414
- St Anna’s Residence- (504) 523-3466
- Good Samaritan- (504) 246-7900
- Our Lady of Wisdom Health Care- (504) 394-5991
- Ferncrest Manor Living Center- (504) 246-1426
- Woodland Village Nursing and Rehabilitation Center- (504) 903-3000
- Comm Care Corporation- (504) 525- 1434
- Covenant Nursing Home- (504) 897- 6216
- Hancock Medical Center
- Louisiana Nursing Home Administration
-- Cemataries
* Find an interesting tombstone, find out more about the person and try to photograph things that describe them or their family.
-- Street Signs
* Photograph street signs and what’s behind them. For example, a photograph of the Humane Way Street sign and then a photo of the animal shelter.
-- Mrs. Leah Chase
* Day in the life of Leah Chase.
-- Audubon Zoo (504) 861- 2537
* Day in the life of a zookeeper.

The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams' Appalachia

If I were to look at some of Shelby Lee Adams’ pictures without having any background information, my first reaction would be a positive one. I think they’re compelling images. Now that I do know more about Shelby Lee Adams and his photographs, I‘m just plain confused.
Shelby Lee Adams has spent many years photographing the Appalachian people and their lifestyle. There’s a lot of controversy over Adams’ images, as there should be. The people that are photographed seem to like the images of themselves. They also enjoy having Adams around and consider him a friend. For the most part, the people who know little about the Appalachian culture seem to dissaprove of his photographs. I found myself being one of these people until I really thought about it. I know next to nothing about the Appalachian culture, so who am I to judge? If the people in the photographs aren’t bothered by them, then nobody else should be bothered.
Although so far I‘ve been in mostly defense of Adams, I still have a few issues with the man. It bothers me tremendously that he has some photographs for his career and some photographs that are his “community service”. Nothing about what he does sounds like community service to me. These are his friends, his people. When I take photos of my family, friends, or even strangers, and I give them a copy, I don’t consider that community service. Not one bit. I also don’t understand why he needs to take separate photographs for his subject, and then another one for himself. These people deserve to have the photography that he seems to cherish so much. Is he trying to hide something from them by giving them a pretty portrait? I just don’t get it.
The pig killing bothers me too. Not only because it’s gruesome and painful to watch. It bothers me because these people hadn’t killed a pig for years. I was confused by this. Especially since Adams wants to “do right what the media has done wrong”. If he wants to show other people what the Appalachians are really like, then why did he make an effort to bring a pig for these people to kill, if pig killing isn‘t something they do on a regular basis?
As you can tell by reading this essay, I’m confused about how I feel about Shelby Lee Adams‘ work. I realize that I jump all over the place, but it’s only because I can’t seem to sort the controversy out in my mind.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

American Experience: New Orleans

To be honest, I really didn’t understand why anyone would want to live in New Orleans. After watching the video “American Experience: New Orleans“, it became a little more clear. Of course New Orleans is famous for Mardi Gras, Jazz, and food, but I learned that there are deeper reasons that people love it so much. Chapter seven of the video was the most interesting to me for several reasons. This chapter was all about the historic Dooky Chas’s restaurant. Dooky Chas’s was the first restaurant that African Americans were allowed to eat at. It was destroyed after hurricane Katrina, leaving the owner who worked there every day from 8 to close since 1941, with nothing left. The woman who owned the restaurant goes on to talk about why food is so special to the people in New Orleans, explaining that it’s like a healer to everyone and when they share food with other people it’s like they’re doing something great for them. There’s one thing in particular that she said that stood out to me, “People wonder why you do what you do, why you stay in the neighborhood, well you stay where you’re comfortable and you stay where you’re needed, and I feel that we need to be here, we need to save our neighborhood.” After hearing this it all started to make sense. This was the beginning of my inspiration. When this clip was over, it became apparent to me that this wasn‘t the only inspiration I would have. I‘m sure that I‘ll meet other interesting people and learn more things in seven days than I could in a quarter long class. Seeing the passion that this woman had for her restaurant and for her community made me realize why people would want to continue living there. After all if something so tragic were to happen to me, I wouldn’t want to leave the only place I’ve ever known.
After watching the clip I had to know more about the woman who owned Dooky Chas’s, so I googled her. Turns out her name is Leah. I read an interview that she had with “Global Gourmet” The article about the interview was published in 1997. She talks about a variety of things. For example, the people who’ve eaten there, her husband who is Dooky Chase II, and the “Creole Feast” book. So if you’re at all interested you can go to this link. It’s entertaining. I feel like I have to meet this lady!