New Orleans Travel Photography

My New Orleans Travel Guide

New Orleans continues to be my favorite city in the world. It’s vibrant unique culture and diverse tolerant population of characters continues to draw me back, again and again.  It’s impossible not to fall in love with the people, the food, and the music of this incredible city.  After a few years away, I returned to New Orleans this time for Jazz Fest, which I hadn’t been to since before Katrina. Although some of my New Orleans Travel Guide remains the same, there’s a few new haunts I fell in love with listed below the photos.

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STAY:  Every neighborhood in New Orleans has it’s own unique feel and vibe, but I always encourage you to think outside the French Quarter when staying in this city so that you really get a feel for the varied cultures and differing architecture of the city.  While hotels and bed and breakfast’s abound, there’s also a great selection of rooms and entire homes on Airbnb and VRBO to choose from when visiting my favorite city in the world.

  • The Garden District: up river from the French Quarter, St Charles winds it’s way along the river bank into a neighborhood filled with colossal columned porches, lush overgrown green gardens, and wrought iron gates.  Magazine Street offers hip new restaurants, small independently owned boutiques and now, a trendy but delicious donut store.  Stay here if you want to really embrace that southern gentility and envision yourself drinking champs on a porch while the streetcar rolls by.
  • The Marigny used to be a secret, but it’s proximity to Frenchman Street and it’s laundry list of amazing nooks and crannies to explore has made it more popular.  The Marigny’s eclectic mix of late-Georgian, one-story Creole cottages and shotguns that are vibrantly colored make you want to wander down a different street every day on your way through town.  Stay here if you want to be close to the nightlife, but just out of the way of the French Quarter drunkards.
  • Mid-City is perfect if you’re coming to New Orleans for a festival.  It’s proximity to the fairgrounds means that you can walk to the fest while you’re feeling sparky during the day, but taxi and LYFT around to the nightlife at night when your feet are feeling the pressure.  From grand mansions, to shotgun doubles, to Victorian style homes, you’ll see a varied mix of architecture here, but none lacking in charm.  Make sure you head to the Parkway Tavern on your way home from the fest one day.  It’s one of the best po-boys in the city.

EAT: this list gets longer every time I return to New Orleans.  It’s been over a decade since Katrina and the restaurant scene here has really flourished in recent years.  There are a few of my stand-out favorites on this list, and some new ones that I discovered this trip around.

  • Elizabeth’s in the Bywater (don’t skip the Praline bacon), Slim Goodies Diner in the Garden District, and The Ruby Slipper Cafe are breakfast standouts.  The Ruby Slipper now has locations all over the city.  Cake Cafe and Bakery in the Marigny is also a great breakfast stop-off, where breakfast is served six days a week all day.
  • Jacques-Imo’s is still one of my favorite restaurants in the city.  It’s raucous atmosphere, incredible menu and alternative vibe have me returning again and again.  Expect a bit of a wait, but you can always head next door to the Maple Leaf for a drink.  For a real experience, come here on Tuesday night for dinner and then head on over to the Maple Leaf to see Rebirth Brass Band play their weekly show.
  • The list of restaurants on this page with James Beard awards is astounding and La Petite Grocery is part of that club for good reason.  The turtle bolognese was incredible and it didn’t hurt that I made new friends while dining at the bar.
  • Our meal at Shaya was a stand-out: modern Isreali cuisine prepared fresh, prepared fresh with a huge side of warm, brick fired pita.  You must order the hummus!
  • There are certain dishes that I spend my life dreaming and replaying over and over and over again in my head and Cochon‘s wood fired oysters are now on that list.  I’ve always maintained that I’d want my last meal on earth to be the mushroom strogonoff that I once had at South Congress Cafe in Austin, TX, but these oysters may be claiming that top spot.

DRINK:

  • Enjoying a Pimm’s Cup at the historic Napoleon House is a must-do.
  • If you can get in, Bacchanal is a wonderful way to while away the evening.  Part retail wine store, part patio, this Bywater haunt has become incredibly popular in the past few years and there is now usually a line around the corner to get in.  Skip it on the weekend and on festival weeks but if you are around in the off season, you might be able to score a seat on their deck and listen to music mid-week.
  • If you can’t score a seat at Bacchanal, the Tasting Room offers an eclectic dining menu and boutique wines from around the world.  It’s dark, cozy and just what you want a wine bar to be.  It’s perfect for lounging on the couch, reading a book and sipping wine in the event of poor weather.
  • Sitting on the deck of the Columns Hotel in the Garden district and whiling away the afternoon with a bottle of champagne will never lose it’s charm with me.

EXPLORE

  • Get lost on foot: the New Orleans Tours at Your Feet walking app offers guided tours of the French Quarter, the Garden District, Haunted Homes, and Cemeteries in the area.
  • If it’s your first trip to New Orleans, the World War II Museum is a must-visit.  It’s grown considerably in the past few years, but it remains informative and the exhibits are related to local history and people.
  • The Presbytere in the French Quarter houses a New Orleans cultural exhibit on mardi gras and it’s customs, along with an exceptional exhibit about Katrina and it’s aftermath.
  • Fest it up: the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Voodoo Festival and Mardi Gras continue to be huge draws to this city.  They are all amazing, but there’s also something to be said for just going for the shrimp and grits no reason at all.
Big Eyed Fish

Big Eyed Fish | Hard Rock Casino | Vinyl

My friend Chris is in an exhausting number of bands.  He might be the musical equivalent of me.  Every time I turn around, he’s posting a show he’s playing somewhere in the Northern CA area.  In addition to often playing solo, he’s also in my favorite Northern CA band Dad’s LPs, who will be playing Tahoe twice this summer.  Dad’s LPs are a super fun energetic rock/pop outfit and you can catch them Saturday, June 20th in the Heavenly Village at 5:00 PM or at Live at Lakeview on Thursday, July 30th.

In addition to Dad’s LPs, Chris is also the frontman for Big Eyed Fish, a Northern CA Dave Matthews Tribute Band.  Chris and his DMB troupe were recently in Tahoe to play at the new music venue Vinyl, inside our recently opened Hard Rock Resort and Casino.  As a side note, Vinyl features live music almost every night of the week and it’s often free!  To say that Chris is a Dave Matthews fan would be an understatement.  DMB is his self-professed most favorite band in the world and I’m actually a huge Dave fan myself, so when he asked me to come down to the show and snap some photos for their marketing efforts, I was thrilled to accommodate the request.  It was a joy to be able to capture him playing the (extremely difficult) songs of his music idol.

In addition to Dad’s LPs and Big Eyed Fish, Chris also plays with The Diva Kings.   You can catch the Diva Kings next at Redwood Winery in Plymouth, CA on August 8th.

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Janelle Monae

SXSW Photographer | SXSW Sneak Peek

Remember that time that I went to see Alt-J and Phoenix and Joan Jett surprised the crowd by showing up and playing a set and I said it was the best night of my life?  I think this one may have topped it.

Janelle Monae is a verified Bad Ass with capital letters.  Story and more photos to come when I get home!

Tahoe Concert Photographer | Gary Clark JR

I’ve been a huge fan of Gary Clark JR every since we stumbled upon him at Voodoo Music Festival a few years ago in New Orleans.   Clark’s blend of bluesy fuzzy guitar mixed with smooth vocals is simply amazing.  I’m surprised I hadn’t ever come across him while living in Austin, as he was born and raised there, honing his musical chops in iconic locations like Antone’s.  His recent album Black and Blu is an absolute delight and I highly recommend it.

Clark came through Tahoe South a few months (okay 6) ago while on tour opening for Dave Matthews Band.   It was nice to have a bit of my hometown in my [new] hometown.

SXSW 2014 Preview

I’m back in Texas to photograph for SXSW for the 2nd year in a row.  I know what’s coming for me: loads of amazing new music, beer, and very little sleep.  It’s an awesome time and it all starts this Saturday.

I’ve been attempting to prepare myself by drinking a lot and pre-listening to the SXSW “Four on the Floor” Preview Lists.  Here are a couple of acts I discovered on there that I’m super excited to see:

  • I became super obsessed with Juliette Ashby’s voice the moment I heard the first song.  Her blend of R&B, Reggae and Neo-Soul isn’t something I would have ever pegged myself for being attracted to, but I’m hooked.

  • The Mighty Oaks may be confused since they are playing Americana-Folk but hail from Berlin, Germany but I’m not confused about how awesome their music is.

  • Ski Lodge: pop fun for a bluebird powder day.  Right up my alley.

  • Pompeya is a pop blend of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

  • Shakey Graves has been making headlines outside of his hometown of Austin, TX: headlines loud enough that his reputation precedes him and he’s now on my must-see list for the week.

  • Elle King mades waves last year at SXSW but I unfortunately missed catching one of her shows.  I will not make the same mistake again this year!

Tahoe Concert Photographer | Dave Matthews Band

When I was in high school, my good friend James bequeathed to me a copy of Dave Matthews Band‘s first studio album.   Under the Table and Dreaming completely changed the way I listened to music.  I was a typical music listener for a teen: radio obsessed and repetitive.  With my introduction to this album, I was ushered into a world of complexities and layers like I hadn’t heard before.  It was my start of musical appreciation.   Under the Table and Dreaming remains, to this day, one of my favorite albums of all time, book-ended by Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Ryan Adam’s Gold, and LCD Soundsystem’s self-titled debut.

After that, I spent a good portion of my high school summers touring DMB shows, from city to city, where every night they would play completely different sets and completely different songs, all the while managing to sound like an orchestra was on stage.  I can say with 100% confidence that I have seen more DMB concerts than any other band in the short history of my life.

I loved their shows and while I hadn’t seen one in over ten years, the moment Dave started playing and tapping his toes, I was transported back in time.  I had briefly doubted if the DMB I heralded in my head after all this time would live up to the musical memories of my nostalgic mind and instantaneously this idea was proved totally baseless.

Dave Matthews Band was an impeccable gorgeous spirited show when I was young and he is the same today.  While no album of his may live up to the aggressive complicated ambitiousness of Under the Table and Dreaming, his catalog of music remains impressive, varied and filled with everything crowd pleasing jingles to southern rock ballads.

After this experience, I’m not sure if any band I photograph for the rest of my life will live up to Dave Matthews Band.  The unparalleled excitement I felt in that photo pit was fueled by awe and devotion.

Dave Matthews was and clearly still remains the King of my Satellite Castle.  I may not purchase all his music anymore, but he proved his place on a pedestal in my musical library.

Thank you Tahoe South for the opportunity to photograph my musical legend.

Tahoe Concert Photography | Brad Paisley, Lee Brice & Chris Young

Woah.  Did Brad Paisley ever throw me for a loop.  The stage, which is always the same massive set up at the Harvey’s Outdoor Amphitheater, was completely and totally different for this show.  Where there is normally a nice long photo pit, there was none.  Where there normally is a nice long walk way, there was none.  Where there is normally wide open dance floor, there was a long semi circular stage extension with a walking path into the crowd and no way to cross back and forth quickly from one side of the stage to the other.  The end result: pick a side of the stage and hope for the best.

I didn’t take my wide angle this time which I immediately regretted, even though it’s usually not fast enough for concerts, the lights were exceedingly bright on this show and it would have worked.

I picked the wrong side of the stage for Paisley but managed to get one shot that I’m proud of.

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Here’s a few others from the evening that include opening bands Lee Brice and Chris Young.  You can check out all of my photos from the night over at the Tahoe South Flickr Page.