Windows to the Soul

Of New Orleans

4 min read by shom.
Published on . Updated on .
A path of blue sky opens between two high rises with rectangular glass windows.

I never take a camera on a city walk because the possibilities are infinite and the scene is constantly changing and might be more interesting if I shoot a few more frames. Film liberates me from that temptation. You get what you get and you get to be excited again when you look at the scans. That’s why, after shooting digital since the three-mega-pixel-camera days (primarily landscapes), I picked up a film rangefinder and I’m loving it.

A historic home with old shutters matching the colors of the lush green gardens.

I like exploring new cities on foot, it’s the best way to feel the essence of the neighborhoods. I enjoy observing street life and looking at architecture. And while I’ve always enjoyed this, I found the combination of film plus a rangefinder is the perfect way to capture what I’m seeing and feeling. The eyes may be windows into our souls, but windows are what allow us to peek into the souls of neighborhoods.

I recently had a chance to explore a few parts of New Orleans, Louisiana in the southern United States. It’s a well-described city — there are a lot of stories and guides from a lot more informed people. But I want to share a few of the many beautiful neighborhoods through its windows.

A three-story brick building with green doors and awnings, less furnishings with each floor moving up.

There are a lot of stately homes in New Orleans. I love walking through those special neighborhoods with their old trees and the glimmer of sun playing hide and seek on the brick paths.

There are also rustic buildings with windows and awnings that are utilitarian now with hints of a more glamorous past.

I always wonder what stories are behind them.

A cafe that opens up to the street with three French doors and a few patrons dining in front.
A cafe window with beautiful artwork, lettered “FRENCH TRUCK,” reflecting the houses across the street.

Cafes make a deliberate effort to tell a story through their storefronts and windows. But ultimately, it’s the soul of the neighborhood that is reflected in them. My favorite places are where the cafes fit into their surroundings and are not trying too hard to distinguish themselves. There are a lot of great little cafes and I wish I had done a whole tour (and photos) of just cafes and live music.

Windows normally let in light and air but sometimes they also let out delicious smells and foods.

New Orleans is a historic city that has been through a lot and found a way to have the old live with the new. It is one of the most welcoming places I’ve been to and I hope to return to capture more great people, food, and music.

A row of older buildings, connected by just the remaining facade, its windows are a portal to the new development that can be seen in the background.

All the above photographs were shot with a Canonet QL GIII rangefinder on Fuji 200 film, processed by a commercial lab. No digital edits were made except a crop to remove the end-of-film border for the food truck photo and to straighten the horizon on the three-story building photo.