Hello, I have decided to start using this blog differently and more often. Instead of only putting up a blog every other month I am going to blog more about myself and what I am doing with my photography. I want to also warn you that I am not a writer. I am a photographer. I am more of a visual arts kind of guy than literature. So PLEASE excuse my horrible grammer.
(Images by my beautiful girlfriend Kailey Geary)
So first, an introduction of myself. My name is Traven Stout. I grew up in New Orleans in the Lakeview neighborhood. I was introduced to the arts a kid through my mother who was an artist herself. I remember as a child getting scolded for curiously opening the back of hef film cameras and ruining her film. I had a pretty awesome childhood up to the age of 11 when my mother passed away. It was pretty surreal experience, but besides dealing with a death at a young age I had an awesome childhood. My father took care of me pretty well. I was in Brother Martin high school when Katrina hit and I had my house completely destroyed by the storm. It sucked but I remember thinking it was only stuff. Looking back on it and comparing it to losing a loved one it was nothing. I was still a pretty messed up teen though. I attended multiple high schools after the storm due to too much partying. It wasn't until after high school and a year of failing out of college that I straightened up my act. I moved Monroe Louisiana to get away from New Orleans and all the partying. It was there that I got back into the arts and found myself really enjoying photography. After a while I began to miss New Orleans and decided to move back down and give college another shot. I went to UNO with the hopes of one day becoming a social worker or therapist. At the time I wanted to go into something where I could help others. While there I took photography clases. It was in the darkroom at the University of New Orleans where I fell in love with the process of film and analog photography. There's something magical about watching a print form in a chemical tray under a red light and a thrill of shooting film and not knowing how the shot came out until you process it. It also reminded me of my mother and almost felt like it brought me closer to her. I still have her cameras that survived the storm and I still use them. I graduated UNO in 2015 and upon graduating I decided I should give photography a shot as a career. For the past 3 years I have been soley freelancing as a photographer (sometimes videographer) in the city of New Orleans and I love it. It's not easy and its sometimes a struggle stay motivated specially when it comes to the business side of things, but there's really nothing else I rather do.
So that's me. I debated with myself a little if I should post this. Thinking maybe it's a little too personal, but I decided it was only fair that I open up. Only fair to share my past with my clients since my wedding clients share some of there most intimate moments with me during their weddings. It's an honor for me to photograph these moments and then share them back with my clients and it's one of the reasons I love shooting weddings.
Proposals like this are what make me love photography. I was contacted by Drew in late January to do a proposal shoot in Audubon park. His plan was to pop the question during an early morning jog with his girl friend. I shoot portraits pretty often in Audubon park so I was excited about being able to capture a proposal there. The oak trees make for a good backdrop and give off beautiful New Orleans / southern aesthetic. I met with Drew a week before to discuss and plan out the shoot to get an idea of the location and how I would compose my images. It was located right next to shelter 10 in a part of the park that I have never shot in before. The plan was for Malea and him to veer off their path down a row of trees and propose at a grandstand, with me shooting the whole time. The day of I met two of his friends who got there early to set up some flowers. Everything went smoothly.
Drew and Malia as the run up and approach the grandstand. I was super stoked about this shot. The trees and light polls formed a nice and symmetrical scene. I stood on the opposite side of the grandstand on a step stool. I think it was right about here that Malia realized what was going on with me taking pictures and seeing the flowers set up.
Drew and Malias freinds who helped out by setting up the flowers and cordinating.
Afterward we took a couple more photos. This grandstand was beautiful.
After we spent about 20 mins taking a couple of photos, they ran off to finish their jog. <3<3<3
Carnival time is a special time of the year for me. For a good 10 days during the carnival season the city of New Orleans practically shuts down for parades. The parades basically equal one big street party. The beauty of it all is the mingling of people. Random people from all walks of life coming together to have a good time. There's a certain kind of magic to it; and there is so much background, tradition, and culture behind it that it's hard to explain it with out being there. During this time I try to get out and into the streets as much as possible to capture it with photography. It was when I was at the University of New Orleans in 2013 studying sociology that I started this series. It was then when I realized that it isn't Mardi Gras that is special, it is the individual people that make Mardi Gras happen that are special. Mardi Gras wouldn't be Mardi Gras without the people that put work into Mardi Gras. People put hours of work into making costumes, making floats, and the people actually working the routes(police,EMT,Public Workers, service industry) All of this mixes together into one big result. This series started as a way to look at how the individual plays into the whole of society... from there it's turned into a progression of my photographic style, to a way for me to attempt and try new photographic techniques, to a way for me to play with new gear and cameras.
These photos are from last year. Most shots were made on my medium format camera shot on tmax 400 film, some on a large format 4x5 camera, and some digital.
Why did I wait a year to upload these photos?
1. So I forget what I shot. It's a photographic technique.
Sometimes when shooting it is hard to not get emotionally attached to a certain shot. It's important for a photographer to be able to detacth from the feelings they get when shooting an image to the image itself. Ever take a photo that you loved but no one else liked, then looked at it a year or two later and wondered what you were thinking? I have. It's typically because you enjoyed the feeling you got from shooting the image more than the actual image itself.
2. It's hard to process film, scan it, and edit it all that quickly. but mainly number one.
You can see more on my instgram account specificaly dedicated to this series.
There is nothing more interesting to observe than when a group of talented, creative people get together. Being in New Orleans is amazing because there is never any shortage on artistic, thoughtful people looking to make art in all forms. This bridal shoot was the culmination of many talents coming together for a beautiful final product. Much of the shoot was styled around an incredible space found for us by Hily Trowbridge. Treme Market Branch is a truly historic, breathtaking venue with cathedral ceiling and 15 foot windows that allow in soft natural light. The mother and the daughter who owns the venue, were a pleasure, and after a bit of convincing we were able to have the daughter, Theresa, model for us. She was a natural and seeing her in a wedding dress was magical. Hily also helped style the venue for the shoot, making a aisle out of a vintage Persian rug and adding fresh cut flowers and candles. The entire shoot had an authentic, New Orleans, bohemian feel.
The models were absolutely stunning. Nora and Tiffany were both beautiful and patient throughout the entire shoot. All three girls nailed it. We were fortunate enough to have Pearl's Place loan us all of our lovely dresses. Lauren Chemin did all of the make up, giving Tiffany a more natural look while Nora’s look was more dramatic. She even did Theresa's make-up for us on the fly. Sarah Parvardeh styled all of the hair paying great attention to detail from flowers to braids to curls. She stayed close, hairspray in hand, to make sure the models looked perfect throughout the shoot.
Finally there was our talented photographer, Traven Stout. Using vintage 8X10 and 4X5 cameras he captured everyone’s hard work beautifully. The skill level required to shoot on large format cameras is unparalleled, from accounting for exposure to checking the focus with a magnifying glass. Oh, and then there was me, Kailey, who held the lights and got the coffee and carried the gear in and wrote this blog post.
These final images truly show what creative, driven people can accomplish together. They are truly unlike any bridal shoots you'll ever see between the elegant venue, vintage camera, and a little bit of New Orleans showing through in every picture.
Written by my beautiful girlfriend and assistant: Kailey Geary
I shot all these images on large format cameras that are older than me. "What's a large format camera?" you ask. It's a camera that uses film equal or larger than 4x5 inches. The larger your negative size the better resolution you can get. Think of a frame from an old 35mm negative, now compare that to 4x5 inches. There's more space record the image on the 4x5 negative, therefore you can enlarge the images much bigger. I shot these on a 4x5 camera and an 8x10 camera. An 8x10 negative if scanned properly can far succeed the resolution of today's digital cameras. It also has a completely different aesthetic to it than a digital camera. Large format cameras have a shallower depth of field and I can tilt the front of standard which can give a selective focus. All of this gives the out of focus areas a much more creamier look. AND IT'S FILM! So I get all of the beautiful tones you get from the different film types that are impossible to recreate on the computer.
Here's a Slide Show of the Behind the scenes (click play to view)
Nora Donnely IG: @norafromatlanta
Tiffany Brooks IG @tiffanymakesameanturkey
Teresa Thomas : IG @teeleethom
Lauren Landry Chemin
Come out on October 28th to Sailor's Cross tattoo and gallery on Feret st at 8pm. Leigh Barrose and I are showing our work from our recent trips to Cuba. Come see Cuba from the perspectives of two New Orleans photographers. There will be food, beer, tobacco and music. Come party with us! It's for a good cause too, we will be taking up donations for hurricane relief from the recent season's devastation in Cuba
I will have on display and for sale 12 Limited Edition 16x16 prints from my puedo tomar tu photo series. I did a limited edition run of 3 16x16 prints. That means there will only be 3 16x16 prints of each one of these photos ever made.
"Can I take you photo?" this is what I was asking strangers in my broken Spanish. It was mostly met with a smile and a nod. I would take a picture of some one and then I would take a picture with my instax polaroid camera and give them the polaroid. Havana was an interesting city. It was like New Orleans x10000 in the sense that it runs on its own time. The people were very laid back and friendly. I, being a sociologist at heart, was very interested how their society and country worked. I constantly asked locals about their culture and their country. Their seemed to be sense of contradiction in people. As I was talking to one person my age he explained his love for the culture. The vibe I got from him was that money is no big deal, you can go out at night drink have a good time run out of money and it was fine. The next day you would still have a bed to sleep and food to put in your belly. The government provides for its people. But at the same time he said he was trapped. He said he studied computer development in college, but upon graduating he learned that there wasn't any good paying jobs, that he could make more working at the cigar factory. As he described his situation more he explained that even working a good paying job at the cigar factory it still wasn't enough to afford to travel. He was literally stuck. Despite this he laughed it off and asked if I wanted a swig from his plastic water bottle that contained rum. It seemed like their was a true sense of community there. The people had each others backs. I did however feel much like a tourist the whole time I was there and I couldn't help but to feel an us vs the tourist kind of vibe. The hustle in Havana is tourism. Being a New Orleans native I understood this. New Orleans thrives on tourism and while some tourist can be annoying and aggravating they are vital to the cities survival. It was interesting being on the other side though. Instead of hearing "I bet I know where you got them shoes," it was "cigars!." One of my favorite experiences there was when my friend Anthony bought cigars off someone on the street. He took us into a back ally way through a couple corridors and into an apartment. We walked in through a tiny kitchen and into a living room. There seemed to be at least 5 people, a family that lived in that tiny apartment. As my friend bought the cigars I snapped photos, of course only after asking "puedo tomar tu photo?". I looked int the corner and saw this:
A teddy bear hanging from a rope in the corner of the room. Under it was an altar of some sort. Havana much like New Orleans has a dark side of some sort. Come to the show and I can tell you the stories behind all the photos I took. All in all I loved it in Havana and I hope to go back again and explore the city more.
Here's a link to the Facebook event: