Photo of the Week: New Orleans Soul

I wish I could tell you I spent my days in New Orleans soaking up the Southern history. I wish I could tell you that I explored the French Quarter’s museums, old buildings and churches. I wish I could tell you that I learned a lot about one of the most historically important cities in all of the Americas. I wish I could, but I can’t. Instead, I spent my nights exploring the music scene which is so powerful in New Orleans and spent my days trying to recover. I’d be lying if I told you that I felt guilty for the party-tourism that I took part it; I loved every minute of it. I might not of learned much about the history, but getting off of Bourbon Street and into other areas of the city’s music scene allowed me to get a much better feel for the people of this city. It was amazing seeing an appreciation for types of music that don’t involve “bumping and grinding” beats. The music scene in New Orleans is like nowhere else in America and is well worth a couple nights worth of indulgence.

This week’s photo was taken on Frenchman’s Street which is a great place to go for music and to get away from the general tourist crowds that swarm Bourbon Street. The bar this was photographed in was called The Blue Nile.

New Orleans

How I Got this Shot

I hate turning up my ISO, but sometimes it’s necessary. In a dark bar with moving band parts and nor possible use for a tripod it is needed. Luckily, turning up the ISO can kind of give you a nice grainy look when shooting bands. My piece of advice for shooting the music scene somewhere, however, has nothing to do with ISO. My advice is to act like you own the place. If you have a DSLR camera people will just automatically assume you are a journalist (well, lots of people). Get up into the front row, get in people’s ways, carry a fake press pass, and just shoot the photos you want. You’ll be amazed, put a big camera around your neck and people will just move out of your way and let you go straight to the front. Shoot the band is then fairly easy: look for the light, try to capture the emotion of the song, and shoot from a number of different angles and you’ll surely come up with something. I try to make sure I shoot band/people images at least at 1/50 seconds as well or you’ll end up with some softness to the image.

I shot this image at 50mm, f/3.5, 1/60seconds with an ISO of 1250.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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9 Comments

  1. I love this photo. There’s so much emotion in it. I’m hoping to go to New Orleans after TBEX, and while I’m not much a clubbing person I definitely want to check out the music scene.

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    • Thanks Alouise. If you go to Frenchman’s street it’s not clubs, but music bars and they are great!

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  2. There is something very special about black and white photography and the saxaphone! I half expected to see the Blue Note label in the corner.

    Love the blog, kind regards, Si

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  3. Hi Brendan, awesome picture, I find your site brilliant!

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    • Thanks Cameron!

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  4. Been here, Frenchman;s St is the heart of Old NO.
    This picture sums it all up for me, dark, special and unique.

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  5. Amazing shot. We loved Frenchmen Street when we were in New Orleans – we heard so many great musicians there.

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    • Thanks, Frenchmen Street has to be the best music street in America… yeah I said it Nashville.

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