Video: Katrina kids see New Orleans through new lens

  1. Transcript of: Katrina kids see New Orleans through new lens

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor (New Orleans): Here in New Orleans tonight, one of the most comprehensive exhibits of the photos taken during the Katrina disaster is now on display. A lot of them are those searing images that it's just impossible to forget. But instead of just displaying them on the wall, the people who took the photos are using them instead to teach some lessons. By doing so, they're making a difference in the process. From here in New Orleans , here is NBC 's Kate Snow .

    KATE SNOW reporting: Twelve-year-old Kim Kaiser got his first camera a couple of years ago. And outside Cafe du Monde , he found just the type of scene he likes to shoot.

    Mr. KIM KAISER: It just feels good. I love jazz.

    SNOW: Kim is in search of the good in this city after living through so much bad. He lost his grandpa in the aftermath of Katrina . What do you miss the most about him?

    Mr. KAISER: I miss the way that I used to run up to him, kneel on his knees and give him a hug.

    Mr. JOHNNY HANSON: All these pictures that you see here are well thought out, well composed...

    SNOW: Johnny Hanson organized a workshop for young people to coincide with the new display of Katrina photos at New Orleans ' Ogden Museum . After a private viewing, the kids would have their turn.

    Unidentified Man #1: We want you guys to go out today against the backdrop of where we were five years ago and tell us where we are now.

    Unidentified Woman #1: You framed it, and...

    SNOW: Photojournalists coached the kids on how to capture just the right frame.

    Woman #1: So what's your impression of this?

    Unidentified Woman #2: Lonely.

    Unidentified Man #2: This is cool. Let's hang for a while.

    SNOW: Twenty-year-old Caitlin Sullivan lost two friends to suicide after Katrina , but now she sees beauty in the distinctly New Orleans tradition of a musical funeral procession. Their photos telling a new story about their city.

    Ms. CAITLIN SULLIVAN: It is about the people and the culture and not the physical.

    Mr. KAISER: Just because Hurricane Katrina came, I took those pictures to remind them that New Orleans is still the same.

    SNOW: Five years later, images that are refreshingly ordinary, filled with life and hope. Kate Snow ,

By NBC News Correspondent
updated 9/9/2010 7:38:52 PM ET 2010-09-09T23:38:52

The images in the pages of every newspaper five years ago were haunting.  A man stood atop a floating mattress.  Black smoke was billowing up from a raging fire in downtown New Orleans.  A moldy wall framed a fireplace in an uninhabitable home.

One of the most comprehensive displays of those photos from 2005 is on display now at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans. Some were never published before and are quite difficult to view. But in addition to hanging their work in a gallery, the photojournalists behind those images wanted to do something more.

Photographers Johnny Hanson, Smiley Pool, and Kevin Martin asked fellow photojournalists to host a workshop for young people.  Hanson, Willie Allen Jr., Kathy Anderson, Tom Fox, David Grunfeld, Richard Hannon, Brad Kemp, Denise McGill, James Nielsen and Mario Tama donated their time and cameras.  And on a recent Friday they spent the day with 26 aspiring photographers, ages 11-21.

"You know, our job is to take.  We take a photo.  We report on things and we’re always taking down information.  This is a way for us to give," Hanson said.

The kids started out by viewing the photos on display at the museum.

"This is where you guys were.  This is the world you were living in," photographer Smiley Poole told them. “We want you guys to go out today, against the backdrop of where you guys were five years ago and tell us where we are now."

"What we’re going to try to teach you is to dig into your heart and soul and pull out how you see the world and how you want to express yourself," Hanson added. And with that they hit the streets of New Orleans.

Twelve-year-old Kim Kaiser, a grin pasted on his face, was clearly in his element.  He got his first camera just a couple of years ago.  He went looking for jazz musicians and found some outside the Café du Monde. “I like the way they move when they play, and the way they talk about the songs,” he said, adding that jazz represents all that is “good” about the city of New Orleans now. 

Certainly all of these kids have seen their fair share of the bad. Kaiser lost his grandfather in the aftermath of Katrina.  He gets sad when he thinks of him, he said.  He misses hugging his grandpa most of all.

In the Lower Ninth Ward, students found a scene so quiet and still that they could hear the crickets chirping.  They took photos in and around abandoned buildings. The professional photographers offered their students shooting tips.  Hanson held his hands up in a square to show Kim Kaiser how to frame a shot just right.

"Let people cross in front of you.  Create layers," Hanson told another student.

"Just move in a little bit, you have to get close to your subjects, ok?" Tom Fox told his student Marcus.

Twenty-year-old Caitlin Sullivan lost two friends to suicide after Katrina.  But at the workshop she found beauty in a "second line"—a jazz ensemble marching through the streets, following a funeral procession.

When they returned to the museum, the coaches showed their students how to crop, edit and tone their photos.  Then they chose their best work for a slideshow. And just as the organizers had hoped, their photos told a new story about New Orleans. Five years after Katrina, the images are refreshingly ordinary

"It's about the people and the culture and not the physical," said Sullivan. 

"I took those pictures to remind them that New Orleans is still the same," Kaiser said.

"At the end, the children showed us the future," Hanson said.  "Maybe we should explore the world through their eyes a little bit more."

Photos: Katrina kids: Telling their stories

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  1. Clarinetist Rickey Paulin

    Clarinetist Rickey Paulin from Paulin Brothers Brass Band, formerly Doc Paulin's Brass Band. Student Hillary Scheinuk photographed street life in New Orleans as part of The Telling Their Stories: The Lingering Legacy of the Katrina Photographs educational workshop, Friday, August 20, 2010. (Hillary Scheinuk) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Taking a ride

    A streetcar passenger on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans leans into the breeze. (Jade Thiraswas) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 'All My Friends'

    Student Marcus Duret photographs street life in New Orleans as part of The Telling Their Stories: The Lingering Legacy of the Katrina Photographs educational workshop, Friday, August 20, 2010. (Marcus Duret) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Wild Man John Ellis

    Student Hillary Scheinuk photographs street life in New Orleans as part of The Telling Their Stories: The Lingering Legacy of the Katrina Photographs educational workshop, Friday, August 20, 2010. This photograph is of the Mardi Gras Indian Wild Man John Ellis of the Wild Tchoupitoulas tribe. (Hillary Scheinuk) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Daily specials

    Specialties are listed on the window Croissant D'or Patisserie in the French Quarter, New Orleans. (Castell Leo) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. At Grandpa's house

    Chyana Hurst, 7, looks out the window of the home of her grandfather, Robert Green, in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. (Ashley Guillory) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Walking the dog

    A street performer in the French Quarter, New Orleans. (Khadjah Woods) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Photograph of a commemorative wreath in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, five years after Hurricane Katrina, Friday August 20. 2010. (Jacob Ross) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Keith "Wolf" Anderson.

    Trombone player Keith Anderson warms up a crowd on Jackson Square in New Orleans' French Quarter. (Elle Maloney) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Leaning into it

    Six-year-old Aden Carpenter of Dallas, Texas, photographed during a visit to Jackson Square in the French Quarter, New Orleans. (Brevin Porter) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. View from a tuba

    St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, New Orleans, as seen through the reflection of a tuba. Student Nicholas Duret photographed street life in New Orleans as part of The Telling Their Stories: The Lingering Legacy of the Katrina Photographs educational workshop, Friday, August 20, 2010. (Nicholas Duret) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. After the downpour

    Drying off after a rain on Magazine St. in Uptown New Orleans (Briana Payne) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Two balloons

    A little girl proudly carries party favors on Decatur Street in New Orleans' French Quarter. (Kim Kaiser) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Vintage wigs

    The window display at Miss Claudia's Vintage Clothing on Magazine St., Uptown New Orleans (Donguelle Theodore) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Markings left behind by the tape used for storm reinforcement can still be seen in the windows of this home in the French Quarter. Photographed by Telling Their Stories workshop student Oscar Williams Friday,Aug. 20, 2010. (Oscar Williams) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Bright pink shades

    A street performer plays Jackson Square in New Orleans. (Dylan Frese) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Rain reflections

    Photographing in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, five years after Hurricane Katrina, Friday August 20. 2010. (Sean McGuire) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Flood of memories

    When floodwater poured into his neighborhood, Robert Green and his family climbed from rooftop to rooftop to escape the rising waters. His mother and one of his granddaughters died in the ordeal. This is a portrait of Mr. Green in the living room of his Lower Ninth Ward home on Tennessee Street in New Orleans. (Jessica Parker) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Grounded

    An abandoned boat seen on St. Maurice St. in New Orleans, as photographed in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, five years after Hurricane Katrina, Friday August 20, 2010. (Natasha Zenicki) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Smoke break

    A contractor takes a break during the remodeling of a residence in the Faubourg Marigny of New Orleans. (Caitlin Sullivan) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Rooms with a view

    Student Nick Delatorre photographed street life in New Orleans as part of The Telling Their Stories: The Lingering Legacy of the Katrina Photographs educational workshop, Friday, August 20, 2010. (Nick Delatorre) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Green gates

    View of a front porch in Faubourg Marigny, New Orleans. (Will Weisler) Back to slideshow navigation
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