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.