A thousand words?

They say…a picture is worth a thousand words, but there are also times when photos raise more questions than they answer.

Such was the case when we spotted this building in New Orleans’ French Quarter a couple of weeks ago. The building is battered and worn and the shutters don’t look like they would be much use in a hurricane. Yet the balconies of each of these apartments, with greenery and shade umbrellas, are inviting and look as if they house permanent residents.

The French Quarter is so tourist-oriented that it’s hard for me to imagine the lifestyles of “real” (non-vacationing) people who live and work in the midst of party-minded tourists. Who lives there? What kind of work does he do? Does the tenant of the corner apartment have children or a dog? What is life like in a place that is as resolutely outrageous as the French Quarter is? Is this a romantic existence, or is her life as everyday routine as my own suburban lifestyle?

Though I will never know the answers to my questions, these photographs are a good reminder to me that I will usually only know my side of the story of my images. I need to keep that in mind next time I’m shooting in a similar situation and, if possible, talk to locals to get a better sense of place and time than my own observations yield. Beyond that, I’m reminded (again) how important it is to put words with my photographs—because if I don’t record my own thoughts and impressions about an image, how will anyone else know why an image was important enough to me to take and to save?

This post is for one of the assignments in Kat Sloma’s Journey of Recognition course which, in turn, is part of Kat’s Find Your Eye series of classes. My session of Journey of Recognition ended a couple of weeks ago, but I’m trying to finish these assignments before the next course, Journey of Inspiration, starts in mid-October. You can find information about the entire series here.

10 thoughts on “A thousand words?

  1. Glorious pictures – I wanted to get right inside and start walking up what I imagine are old stone staircases with wrought iron balustrades inside … and perhaps some faded Persian rugs …

  2. Beautiful photos, I especially love the first one – it reminds me of Paris. I know what you mean about the questions and just seeing the outside but in some ways I like that – it opens up a whole new set of possibilities and imaginings though I also love learning about other people’s ‘ordinary’.
    Well done for keeping going with the course – I still have a few assignments to go too.

  3. I resonate with your post, Wanda. When we travel we just see the outside, that is presented to the tourists. We don’t often get the opportunity, without seeking it out, to understand the local way of life. Beautiful photographs (makes me think I need to get down to NO!) and a wonderful capture of your words and feelings about the experience. I’m glad to see you are still working your way through the course material!

  4. Wonderful images! And what a thought-provoking post! Your statements about how one-sided our images can be definitely rings true. I must remember to keep that in mind!

    I am purchasing my new camera one Wednesday, and also hoping to finish the few homework assignments from the Recognition course before the next one begins [soon]! Good luck to you too!

  5. Wonderful post with lots of thoughts and questions! I’m still not real comfortable with journaling my feelings with my photos! I get caught up in just sharing photos. You’ve inspired me to try harder and journal more often!!

  6. I love your little slice of New Orleans life. That building is so battered that it almost looks like you have added some post-processing texture to those photos! Obviously people live there, and care enough to nurture a garden on those balconies. Doesn’t it make you curious about what the inside looks like? One of the things I’ve loved about this whole photo journal idea is actually thinking about my photos and recording those thoughts, something I’ve never done before. It really adds meaning to them for me, even if for no one else.

  7. Wanda,
    Great architecture – such texture and lovely grillwork! And you have added the words that ask questions, that make one wonder about the lives that are lived on these balconies.

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