In the French Quarter, in New Orleans, there is a little alley, only one block long, between the Saint Louis Cathedral and the Old Spanish Governors Mansion, the Cabildo. It runs from Chartres Street at Jackson Square to Royal Street. The alley is intersected by Cabildo Alley and it continues past the Spanish Dungeon and then The Faulkner House, where he wrote his first novel.
Even though now I realize it is a famous spot – I first stumbled on it by accident trying to fight my way through the French Quarter Mardi Gras crowds. It is always a quiet little lane surprisingly isolated from the hub and the bub of the tourist crowds bursting in Jackson Square or the never ending party jostling the other French Quarter Streets. Whenever I’m in the quarter, I try to walk the Pirate Alley.
The other day I was walking and riding the streetcars around the city taking some photographs. I was walking from Canal through the quarter to Frenchman Street and cut through the alley to Jackson Square. I found a photographer and his assistant setting up lights while a few feet down a model was arranging a pile of clothes. They were doing a fashion shoot.
I didn’t stop – I had miles to go before I sleep – but a while later, I looped back through Jackson Square and took a look to see if the fashion shoot was still on.
Without the portable lights they had, Pirate Alley was a tough place for me to shoot the people doing the shoot. Though a beautiful spot it has bad, uneven light.
I popped my head in and snapped a couple shots. I didn’t take the time it takes to make a good shot – I was more than a little self-conscious – they kept looking at me – I guess my big camera makes me look like a professional photographer (lack of skill isn’t obvious from the outside). I don’t know what the rules of courtesy are when shooting someone shooting someone. Of course, there isn’t any more pubic spot than Pirate Alley – so if you choose that as your location, you get what you get.