New Orleans changed my life. As an 18 year old college freshman, I left home and embarked on an unknown path in a very different city from where I grew up. It took me a few years to begin to understand the complexities and uniqueness of New Orleans, and as the layers were slowly revealed to me I was hooked. I had been a music lover for years and enjoyed live performance from many genres, but when I discovered jazz and the brass bands of New Orleans something inside of me changed. I wanted to get close to this music, I needed to feel it and since I did not play an instrument myself I picked up my camera and attempted to document it. At first the results were less than satisfying as I was still learning my craft, but a few memorable moments in the darkroom seeing that image appear in the developer pushed me to improve my skills and find what I was looking for. This yearning began a process that has continued to this day and I am still searching for the heart and soul of New Orleans. It has been nearly 20 years since I first picked up a camera in New Orleans and while I now live in San Francisco and work as a Bay Area Photographer I have made numerous trips to New Orleans and I continue to photograph the musical culture of the city. After Hurricane Katrina I was able to utilize my vast archive of New Orleans’ images to raise money, through print sales for musicians relief and last year the hit HBO series Treme used one of my brass band photos in the opening credits for the show. All of the pieces of my photography career, my life in New Orleans and now San Francisco came together at a recent SFJAZZ show at Davies Symphony Hall. “A Night in Treme” a traveling tribute to the history of New Orleans music and culture which showcases many of the shows real and acted roles opened a national tour in San Francisco. I was contracted by SFJAZZ to photograph the performance by Kermit Ruffins, Donald Harrison, Big Sam Williams, Dr. Michael White, The Rebirth Brass Band and hosted by Wendell Pierce. It was dream come true. Some of the finest music available today and an enthusiastic crowd appreciating the city that I love.For a look at photos from the show check out http://www.scottchernis.com/A_Night_in_Treme_gallery/index.html and to see more of my work both from New Orleans and beyond http://www.scottchernis.com
Being a photographer is often regarded as a dream job. I when I tell people what I do for a living a common response is “you are so lucky”. Little do they know that the reality of being a working photographer is anything but glamorous. However, we do have our moments and that is what makes it a “dream job”. Just last week I found myself perched atop the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium looking out over a scene that did not resemble the San Francisco City Hall that I have come to know and love over the past 15 years. The magnificent dome of City Hall was awash in orange light, thousands of people roamed the streets, mingling with jugglers, stilt walkers and marching bands. A giant ferris wheel framed the scene at the north end of Polk St. and music blasted from speakers perched on the steps of City Hall. This moment was the culmination of a weeklong assignment for the San Francisco Travel Association covering Pow Wow, an international event to promote the United States and San Francisco to the world. For more images and information visit www.scottchernis.com
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