The Telling Their Stories program was a standing-room only success at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans Saturday, August 21, 2010. Jim Tucker, speaker for the Louisiana House of Representatives, opened the program with commentary on his experience from Hurricane Katrina.
“We are moving in the right direction, trying to put back the pieces of a city that is so unique to the world,” Tucker said.
Tucker, who said he was very moved by the 53-image exhibit of Katrina photographs, introduced keynote speaker Douglas Brinkley. Brinkley, a historian and professor at Rice University, stressed the need for the Gulf Coast region to preserve the south Louisiana wetlands. Brinkley also expressed gratitude for the photographers showing the perils of Katrina to the world.
The In Your Backyard panel gave the audience a chance to hear about the Hurricane coverage perspectives of photojournalists from Texas, Louisiana and Florida. John McCusker, a staff photographer at The Times-Picayune, explained that photographers who covered Katrina had to deal with both covering and surviving the storm.
“I want you to pause, and I want you to remember that there was a human breathing heart, a human being behind the camera for each of those pictures,” McCusker said, in reference to the photo exhibit.
Willie Allen, Jr., a panelist and staff photographer at The St. Petersburg Times, explained his thought process prior to covering a storm.
“We put our moral and thoughtful hats on our heads and then we just hang on for the ride,” Allen said.
Members of The Times-Picayune photo staff shared images from the recovery process of New Orleans. Staffer Elliot Kamenitz illustrated the healing of New Orleans with a photo of New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton after the Super Bowl win. In his explanation that the Saints helped the city recover, Kamenitz voiced confidence in the recovery of the city.
“There is more of Katrina behind us than there is ahead of us,” Kamenitz said.
The program concluded with a presentation of work from 26 young photographers who documented “The Soul of New Orleans” Friday with the help of several photojournalists. The students received a standing ovation, and NBC Nightly News interviewed many after the program.
Report by Kevin Martin | The Advocate
Photos by Tom Fox | The Dallas Morning News