Alt Photo Revolution: New Orleans

The Alternative Photo Revolution show will be making two US stops before coming back to Toronto for the Contact Photo Festival in May 2017.

The second stop will be New Orleans with our contacts at the New Orleans Photo Alliance!


In 1840, the same year the now world-famous restaurant Antoine’s was established, Jules Lion opened the first photography studio in New Orleans. Lion, a lithographer, had traveled to Paris to learn the Daguerreotype process from none other than Daguerre himself. Since that time, New Orleans has had a rich and varied photographic history.


Notable New Orleans photographers include Jay Dearborn Edwards and Theodore Lilienthal, who were active during the Civil War and Reconstruction; E.J. Bellocq, famous for his Storyville portraits of prostitutes; Clarence John Laughlin, considered by many to be the first surrealist photographer in the U.S.; and Michael P. Smith, who documented the cultural landscape of New Orleans in the 1960’s and ’70’s and was the official Jazz Fest photographer until his passing in 2008. Photographers from around the world have worked in New Orleans as well including Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, Edward Weston, Herman Leonard, and Robert Polidori to mention just a few.


The New Orleans Photo Alliance , begun in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, continues to carry on this rich photographic tradition through its mission to encourage the understanding and appreciation of photography through exhibitions, opportunities and educational programs. This non-profit, volunteer run organization maintains a gallery in the Lower Garden District, sponsors PhotoNOLA the annual festival of photography, and administers two grants annually – the Michael P. Smith Fund for Documentary Photography and the Clarence John Laughlin Award – to help provide support to photographers whose work exhibits sustained artistic excellence, creative vision, and sustained commitment to their work.


New Orleans is home to many museums and galleries. A Gallery for Fine Photography is perhaps one of the preeminent photo galleries in the U.S. featuring prints from the earliest days of photography to the most contemporary work.


The New Orleans Museum of Art began its extensive photography collection in the late 1960’s and features prints by some of the greatest American photographers. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art has three rooms dedicated to photography and showcases contemporary and historic photography from throughout the South. The Contemporary Arts Center often includes photography in its exhibitions of contemporary art and The Louisiana State Museum  and The Historic New Orleans Collection also have extensive photography collections. In addition to theses museums there are art galleries peppered throughout the city but you will find them concentrated primarily on Julia Street, Magazine Street and St. Claude Avenue. The Front, The New Orleans Community Print Shop and Darkroom, David Spielman Photography Gallery, Boyd Satellite Gallery, and Cole Pratt Gallery are just a few of these galleries that exhibit photography.


Local Attractions

Founded in 1718 by the French on the first high ground north of the mouth of the Mississippi River, New Orleans was alternately ruled by France and Spain before becoming an American city with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. As a port city its culture has been a mix of French, Spanish, Native American, Creole, African and American and this variety is expressed most notably in its music and food. Known as the birthplace of Jazz thanks to Louis Armstrong, music still bubbles up from the street and you can find live music in venues throughout the city on any night of the week. For food, you can find everything from Creole to Cajun to Soul to modern fine dining with local seafood being the common denominator.


Exploring New Orleans is quite easy. After a stroll through the French Quarter you can take a quick ride across the Mississippi River on the Algiers Ferry which takes you to the second oldest neighborhood in New Orleans and the best views of the city. Back on the city side of the river the St. Charles Avenue streetcar will take you through downtown and the Garden District to the Uptown area which is home to Tulane and Loyola Universities, Audubon Park, and some of best 19th Century architecture in the city. After the return trip, a transfer to the Canal streetcar will take you all the way to City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art. From there, it is a quick trip down Esplanade Ave. to the Bywater, St. Claude, and Ninth Ward neighborhoods where emerging artists showcase their work in many of the co-op galleries peppered throughout the area. For detailed information the New Orleans Visitors and Convention Bureau http:// will have the latest information on things to do throughout the city. The Arts Council of New Orleans is a good guide to the arts and for a detailed list of restaurants browse the New Orleans Menu site.