Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Introduction to the book

El Nuevo: A Changing New Orleans, represents a seemingly small population that has been making an immense impact on the recovery of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

In the aftermath of the storm, the entire ethnic and racial composition of New Orleans changed drastically due to the mass displacement of individuals from the city. Today, New Orleans continues to change as individuals make their way back to their homes, while new residents arrive to take advantage of the opportunities that the area can provide. The Hispanic population increased greatly as new individuals arrived to rebuild businesses and homes destroyed by Katrina. It is estimated that the Hispanic population in New Orleans has reached 150,000, which is double the amount of Hispanics in the city before the storm. According to information provided by the Americas Society and the Council of the Americas, even when construction work becomes more difficult to find for the migrant workers in the New Orleans area, it is likely that they will remain in the city.1

Hispanics became an integral part of the reconstruction in New Orleans. They represented nearly half of the reconstruction workers in the city, helping to make 86.9 percent of households functional by early 2008.1 Yet almost four years later recovery is still slow, and resources are still very limited for many areas of New Orleans, posing challenges for all residents. Hispanics must overcome even more unique obstacles, including limited English proficiency and a lack of cultural familiarity, making survival even more difficult in the vulnerable city1.

Organizations as well as private businesses throughout the city have stepped up to try and provide the resources necessary for the Hispanic population to assimilate into the New Orleans community. I set out to photograph these types of businesses that cater to the Hispanic population, such as taquerias, restaurants, barbershops, music stores, and grocery stores, as well as other elements of the Hispanic culture that were evident in the city. In doing so, I have never before come into contact with so many individuals that were willing to assist me in my ventures. I recognize that this work is just a glimpse into this culture; there is much more to be said about them and their impact on the city.

It is through the efforts of its natives working hand in hand with its new residents that New Orleans continues to evolve, making the complicated city even more diverse.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 9

This was the final day in New Orleans. I am not quite sure where we went for the morning shoot but I believe it was Algiers. Later that morning, Amanda and I went to get a couple of souvenirs. I was then able to go to Kenner, which was the location of the oldest Hispanic grocery store in the area. The director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Darlene Kattan, was so wonderful in giving me information as to which areas would be good to photograph. After I photographed the grocery store, we went back to the hotel to finish getting packed. Amanda and I went out again to get a couple of more souvenirs and to get a bite to eat. The remaining hour was spent in the hotel lobby as a group talking and relaxing. We were off to the airport for a short flight back to Minneapolis. 

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Day 8

We went back to Mid City Monday morning and I followed Amanda around once again with the G9. I spent most of the rest of the day revisiting as many places that I could to fill in any gaps from my other shoots. I got some portraits and an amazing quesadilla! I almost forgot that I saw my first real alligator earlier that day thanks to Nick's lookout. It kept its head above the water just long enough for me to get a video and a couple pictures of it. I cannot quite remember why, but we ventured out to Versailles that night and I was able to photograph the "Latinos American Barber Shop"--I could not believe that I had been in that area so many times and never saw the barber shop there. 

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day 7

I am pretty sure Sunday morning was spent in Lower Mid City following Amanda with the G9, and photographing businesses in Mid City. I didn't get that many usable pictures because it was so early and the businesses were not open. Later that night, I went into Musica Latina (a music store) and photographed the interior of the store. We also drove by a soccer game and decided to stop to photograph it. I was extremely nervous to go up to people and photograph them but I am so glad that I was pushed to approach them anyway. 

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 6

I have waited way too long to post about the remaining days of the trip because I have forgotten almost everything that I did. I will do my best to recall as many things about the last couple of days as I can. I went along with Peter and Colleen to Versailles where Peter photographed the outdoor market. I hung around there for a little bit and then ventured over to a taqueria that I had visited previously. We then went to another taqueria that I hadn't been to before. I was able to photograph for a while but we had to get back to the hotel to get ready for the Gulf of Mexico. I was so excited for the Gulf because I had never experienced salt water before. I enjoyed it a little bit too much because I left with the most painful burn I have ever experienced. Later that night, a couple of us went on a shoot where I was able to photograph a Hispanic grocery store. I did not go in, but I photographed an adorable girl with her bicycle outside of the store. It was a long, but fulfilling day!

Day 5

I have not blogged in a couple of days so I will do my best to remember all of the activities. Friday morning, we went on a sunrise shoot at Lake Ponchartrain where I encountered a chronic case of lens fogging that did not subside until several minutes after we got there. I did continue to take photographs through the fogged lens and actually found that they look pretty interesting; they are posted below.

After lunch, we went to Algiers in search of a Vietnamese garden that we never found BUT we spotted a taqueria that I was able to photograph. Thank you Peter and Amanda for being patient while I photographed! Here are a couple of photographs of that taqueria.

After dinner, Colleen, Amanda, and I took some sunset shots. You cannot call the sky by the way, in case anyone attempts to try. We picked up Peter, then Micah and Nick (I was the camera woman and got tons of footage of picking them all up). That is all for now--I will continue catching up later but my bed is calling for me. 

Friday, June 26, 2009

Just For Fun

Here are some pictures that I have taken in my spare time when I am not working on my essay. I have enjoyed any chance I can get to photograph and I really wanted to make sure that I took "tourist" photographs of New Orleans and my experiences not related to my project.

Here is the giant pile of red ants we encountered during our morning shoot.

I fell in love with this poster and took tons of photographs of it!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Days 3 and 4

Wednesday was a long, but rewarding day. Amanda and I went on a sunrise shoot at 5:45 am; we went on the ferry to take photographs at Algiers. Later that morning, we got to spend time with the Times Picayune photographers, Ted Jackson, Jennifer Zdon, and Rusty Costanza. This was an absolutely amazing experience because they were all so knowledgeable and very willing to give us advice, and I also really enjoyed the stories about their experiences while working at the paper. We were able to go along with the photographers on actual assignments, which was helpful in understanding what it is like to be a photojournalist. I rode along with Jennifer Zdon on two assignments and she did a great job at explaining how to approach assignments that seem very difficult to illustrate, and how to make the best of what you have. I am so thankful for them taking the time to talk to us and share their incredible experiences. I went almost immediately with Colleen to a networking event that the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana was hosting. I was fortunate enough to make a couple of contacts that could possibly help me with my story. We also stopped at a mexican restaurant to eat (I photographed there as well). The women there were so nice and so willing to let me photograph them. So far I have two images from that restaurant.
The day ended with a critique of the class' work.

Thursday started with a morning shoot in Versailles where there were two taquerias and a grocery story that catered to the hispanic population in the area. Everyone that I came into contact was so wonderful and willing to let me photograph. That is something that I have been so thankful for during this trip (how kind all of my subjects are and how willing they are to be a part of my story). Here are some of the photographs taken from that morning.

I had a couple of hours to edit some photographs and put them together for the critique that occurred later in the afternoon. We went on a tour of the photography exhibit at the Ogden Museum between the morning shoot and the critique. Tony Lewis, the Curator of Visual Arts at the Louisiana State Museums, attended the critique to offer advice on our essays, which was very helpful to hear when we still have plenty of time to make changes to our photographs. Amanda and I were off to take sunset shots right after the critique. I photographed mostly abstract images of textures and lines, but it was a very enjoyable outing. I ended the night with a McDonalds McFlurry and a huge Diet Coke. Posted below (along with the images previously posted) are some initial edits on the shots I have taken so far for my essay. Again, the colors look much better on the actual files.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

First Two Days in New Orleans

I have not blogged lately so I will update quickly about what my story involves. I decided to focus on the Hispanic community in New Orleans--the culture and business (mexican restaurants, taquerias, and services) that have grown after Hurricane Katrina. I would also really like to photograph Hispanic families as well. I have been trying to contact the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Orleans, as well as the Archdiocese  to try to get contacts, events, or locations of business that would help my story. I will continue to try to contact and and hopefully meet with someone from those two organizations a little bit later this week. The first day we was very long. We arrived at the airport in Minneapolis at 4:00 a.m. for a 6:00 am flight to Memphis, Tennessee. We spent a couple of hours in Memphis before we finished the trip to New Orleans. By the time we got there, it felt like late in the afternoon when it was only 11:00 a.m. We got a bit of a rest before we went on the Hurricane Katrina bus tour, which was really good to get an idea of the different areas of the city. We relaxed for pretty much the rest of the night. 
Today started with a sunrise shoot at Holy Cross. Unfortunately my camera sensor and lenses fogged from the humidity, so I didn't get hardly any usable images. The lighting was amazing though!! Later today, Colleen took me to a traveling taqueria stand, where I had the best quesadilla I have ever had. With the help of Colleen's spanish skills, I was able to photograph the women working there, along with a customer who stopped to get food. The lighting was not ideal, but the experience was really great. I have posted an image that I took below (the colors look different on the actual file). Tonight, I am going on a night shoot with my classmates and I can't wait!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Response to When the Levees Broke


The entire video When the Levees Broke was really shocking for me and hard to watch at times. When I heard about Hurricane Katrina, I had no idea the extent in which New Orleans was destroyed; I could have never imagined that 80% of the city was under water. Another misconception that I had was that our government and people around the nation were doing their part in New Orleans and the surrounding areas to help victims immediately, when that was not really the case. Everything that was included in this video was overwhelming because I honestly had no idea what was going on during and after the storm. I appreciate how honest the film was; it showed actual footage from Katrina and interviews from people that lived through it, as well as the people in control of how things were executed in the wake of the hurricane.

            The part of the film that affected me the most was the way the survivors were treated after the hurricane hit. For those individuals, the nightmare did not end when the storm passed by. They then had to face hunger, thirst, and heat, all while having to watch their loved ones suffer and die in front of them. When buses finally came to take them away from the city (several days after hurricane), they were split into groups of men, women, children, and elderly. This form of separation caused families and friends to be spread across the nation without a way of getting back together. I cannot understand why this evacuation process happened the way it did. People were basically dropped off in states that they had never been, without the people they loved. The video, like the first video we watched, stated that the people of New Orleans generally don’t venture away from that city. They usually grow up there and stay there, so for families to be sprung across the nation must have been unimaginably painful for them. The nightmare continued as people returned to what was left of their homes. In some cases, they found bodies of their loved ones because the houses were not all properly searched for bodies. To this day, many people of New Orleans are still experiencing the results of Hurricane Katrina.

The footage and stories from the video almost seemed as though they were form a different time period or a different place. It is really hard for me to believe that in a country that I have always felt so secure in, could, for the most part, turn their back on all of those people. There is just so much of that event that was handled poorly, and it is really sad to know that much of the city is still destroyed and its people are still displaced—almost 4 years later. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Possible Essay Ideas


New Orleans funerals and cemeteries


Restaurants that have survived and flourished (page 69 of the Oxford American).


Which areas are being rebuilt and why?


Abandoned schools


Businesses and business owners


Maintaining history after the disaster


Places where jazz started (specific night clubs etc.)


Population evolution in the wake of Katrina (recent immigrants and spanish influence)


Places untouched by Katrina (Central business district, French Quarter, Marigne neighborhood, the Garden District, and Uptown along St. Charles Ave. and Magazine St.)


People in the process of rebuilding

Reflection of American Experience: New Orleans


I learned so much about New Orleans from watching American Experience: New Orleans. I enjoyed how the chapters went into great detail about the history of the city, because they really helped to explain its people and culture. I think I was most interested in how resilient the people of New Orleans are. Chapter 4 of the program spoke of the troubles that the people of New Orleans were facing after the civil war; amidst the turmoil they were experiencing, the people thought that it was the perfect time for a party. It seems as though no matter what had gone on in the city, Mardi Gras was a way for everyone to come together and celebrate. The same was true in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. There was controversy over whether or not they should still have Mardi Gras directly following the hurricane. The video explained, however, that they had to do such things in order to energize, and to keep their sanity. The Mardi Gras floats that were created made fun of the hurricane and how the government reacted to the tragedy; in creating these floats and continuing on with their traditions, the people of New Orleans were able to find some sort of healing. One of the speakers on the program said, “There’s something to be said for the fact that when New Orleans faces adversity, when it’s dealing with tragedy, when it’s down on its luck, New Orleans’ answer always is to pop the corks, have a good meal, and then go dancing” (Chapter 10). The way these people overcome adversity absolutely amazes me.

I have to admit that I could not understand how people could rebuild their homes in the same place they were destroyed. I wouldn’t be able to start all over in a place where I knew the same sort of destruction could happen again. The video helped me understand a little bit more why the people of New Orleans chose to stay and rebuild. It explained that most people that grow up in New Orleans, stay there for their entire lives, because to them, the city is the center of the universe. The video explained that during the evacuation process of Hurricane Katrina, the people of New Orleans appreciated people’s hospitality, but at the same time, it reminded them even more of the fact that they were not home. The food didn’t taste the same, the coffee wasn’t as strong, etc. Above all, I admire how brave the people of New Orleans are, not just because of Hurricane Katrina, but throughout the entire history of the city. New Orleans is flawed, but its people love it for everything that it is including its imperfections.


I am Lisa Hylle, an eighth quarter photography student at the Art Institutes International Minnesota. I will be traveling to New Orleans this summer for an essay class for school. In the beginning, I wanted to go to New Orleans to graduate earlier; the more I learn about the city and its people, the more I can’t wait to experience everything about New Orleans.

            I didn’t pay much attention to Hurricane Katrina when it was happening—I assumed that people were doing their part to help the people of New Orleans and to help them rebuild the city. I never even realized to what extent the city was destroyed. The research involved in the class has made me realize how wrong my assumptions were about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

Follow me through my research and experiences involving the New Orleans trip. I will be posting about more concrete story ideas, discoveries, thoughts, and activities on the trip.