New Orleans: Life and Death in the Big Easy

Editor’s Note: Join writers and editors associated with the University of Louisiana Lafayette Press on Monday, Nov. 2, at the Louisiana Humanities Center  (938 Lafayette in New Orleans CBD) for a Book Launch Party from 5–8 p.m. Among the featured titles will be New Orleans: Life and Death in the Big Easy, a photo book by Cheryl Gerber with a foreword by Lolis Eric Elie and an essay by Chris Rose.

New Orleans: Life and Death in the Big Easy uses photo juxtaposition to portray New Orleans culture—its contrasts, dichotomies, and social ironies, the things that make the city so richly diverse and distinctive—as seen through the lens of photojournalist Cheryl Gerber.

9781935754701-1The book opens with Gerber’s shots of her hometown’s local color, showing how everyday New Orleanians live and how they celebrate life through Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, second lines, and more. The images then take a more serious turn as they depict the inequalities that sometimes make living in New Orleans so difficult. The book closes with photos depicting the way New Orleanians observe, mourn, and celebrate death. Besides images of jazz funerals, the photos include vigils for slain rapper Magnolia Shorty and Archbishop Philip Hannan, among others.

Cheryl Gerber is a freelance journalist and documentary photographer working in New Orleans, where she was born. In 1992, she began working for Michael P. Smith, who nurtured her desire to document daily life in New Orleans. Today, she is a regular contributor to The New York Times, the Associated Press, New Orleans Magazine and Louisiana Cultural Vistas. She has been staff photographer for Gambit Weekly since 1994. During the past two decades, Gerber has won several awards from the New Orleans Press Club for her work on social issues and news photography.

Presented here are five of the photo sets found in this, her debut book.

Pentecost celebration at Bethany Pentecostal Church, 2002 Bernie Y. Miller and her daughter Juanita Miller lead the second line at Bethany United Methodist Church which held a Pentecost celebration, Sunday, May 19, 2002

Put On Your Red Dressleft: Bernie Y. Miller and her daughter Juanita Miller lead the second line at Bethany United Methodist Church which held a Pentecost celebration, Sunday, May 19, 2002 • right: Red Dress Run, 2013 ©Cheryl Gerber

 

Shipyard laborers, 2004

Labor Dayleft: Shipyard laborers, 2004 • right: Black Men of Labor’s Social Aid and Pleasure Club, 2006 ©Cheryl Gerber

 

A woman dancing in the window of Temptations on Bourbon Street, 2002

Lead Us Not Into Temptationleft: A woman dancing in the window of Temptations on Bourbon Street, 2002 • right: A woman looks out a window as police make an arrest in Central City, 2004 ©Cheryl Gerber

 

Andrew Gerber runs through water at rainy Jazz Fest, 2008

Wade in the Waterleft: Andrew Gerber runs through water at rainy Jazz Fest, 2008 • right: Man running on Canal Street at the height of Hurricane Katrina, 2005 ©Cheryl Gerber

 

Habitat for Humanity volunteers raise roof in the Musicians Village in Upper Ninth Ward, 2007

Up on the Roofleft: Habitat for Humanity volunteers raise roof in the Musicians Village in Upper Ninth Ward, 2007 • right: Treme Sidewalk Steppers dance on rooftop in Treme, 2012 ©Cheryl Gerber

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