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Saturday: “Local Take” Series featuring Eric Waters and Donn Young

The New Orleans Photo Alliance and the Louisiana State Museum announce the third session of the four-part speakers’ series LOCAL TAKE: AFRICAN AMERICAN PORTRAITURE IN LOUISIANA. On Saturday, May 10, from 2 PM to 4 PM, Eric Waters and Donn Young will show and discuss their work in this genre. Waters will focus on his street-based documentation of Mardi Gras Indian and Second Line activities. Young will feature his portraits of legendary jazz musicians, as well as images of residents at local housing projects. This presentation will take place at the Louisiana State Museum’s Arsenal Building (entrance through the Cabildo at Jackson Square) and is free and open to the public.

Eric Waters has been a professional photographer for more than 30 years. He studied under the tutelage of the late Marion Porter, a very well known and respected black New Orleans photographer and owner of Porter’s Photo News. Waters decided early on in his career that New Orleans’ African American street culture would be the focus of his work, and since then, he has become best known for his “insider’s view” of Second Line and Mardi Gras Indian activities.

His images have appeared on CD covers for musicians such as Bob French, Victor Goins, Juanita Brooks, and Smokey Johnson, as well as in numerous magazines, newspapers, and other periodicals. Eric was lead photographer for the book and exhibition entitled “The Ties That Bind: Making Family New Orleans Style,” and his work is currently on view in the “Carnival Noir Nouvelle Orleans” show at the McKenna Museum of African American Art.

In 2005, Waters lost his home and the majority of his life’s work to Hurricane Katrina and relocated to Atlanta. However, he returns regularly to New Orleans to continue documenting the culture that he loves, and in the post-Katrina world, he feels that this is more important than ever.

Donn Young, official photographer for the Port of New Orleans, has been documenting this city for the past twenty-eight years. His award-winning work has been exhibited widely — most recently at the Ministry of Culture in Paris, France — and has been published in nine books, as well as in national periodicals including Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and USA Today.

For nearly four weeks after Hurricane Katrina, ten-foot floodwaters blanketed Donn Young’s Lakeview studio, threatening to destroy his entire archive of 1.5 million images. Recognizing this body of work to be “historically significant,” the Archive Records Management Association of America and the Special Collections Division at Louisiana State University’s Hill Memorial Library came to Young’s aid and have since been working with him to salvage and restore whatever they can. In 2007, the Louisiana State Archives established the Donn Young Collection, marking the first time that a photographer of his generation has been so honored.

The Local Take speakers’ series concludes on May 31, with the final session featuring photographers Judy Cooper and Rick Olivier. Local Take has been developed as a complement to the exhibition Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits, which is currently on display at the Louisiana State Museum’s Old U. S. Mint, 400 Esplanade Avenue. This traveling show – organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery – opened at the Old U. S. Mint on March 13 and will continue there through June 1, 2008. Members of the public who attend the Local Take presentations will receive a voucher for free admission to the Mint.

The New Orleans Photo Alliance is a not-for-profit group of photographers whose mission is to encourage the understanding and appreciation of photography through exhibitions, opportunities and educational programs. Since its inception, the Photo Alliance has sponsored multiple photographic shows and workshops in various locations, including Tarragona, Spain and has coordinated PhotoNOLA: A Month of Photography in New Orleans. PhotoNOLA’s purpose is to showcase and celebrate the photographic arts and to promote cultural tourism through a month-long series of exhibitions and events that take place in December.

New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery hours are Fridays, 3 – 6 p.m. and Saturdays, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. or by appointment. Visit the Alliance on the web at