Sno-Ball Season, 2014


Summer in New Orleans is relentless. One day in May, attempting to beat the usual malaise in advance, I decided to photograph only joyful things.

Sno-ball stands soon were dominating the images. I was delighted by their iconography– plywood cut into circles and triangles, cool paintings of offerings like nachos and tamales– and the names of their flavors like Grasshopper and Tiger’s Blood. Almost every facade communicated playfulness and care, and things got just as interesting when I pulled back to see each structure within its environment.

One stand was owned by a preacher, one was owned by teenage girls, and another run by boys in rehab. The dual purpose business model was also popular. One stand doubled as a custom t-shirt shop, another a barber shop, and quite a few shared space with car detailers. Surrounding details emerged– the grass that grows through cracks in the pavement, emptied bottles of bleach and motor oil, headache powder, a sign for HIV testing. The most economically marginal neighborhoods had the most inventive stands, each one an oasis, attesting to willful joy amidst the city’s poverty and grit.

Très Excellente.