August is the month we at ANTIGRAVITY reserve for our annual Photo Issue—although, as some of you may remember, we didn’t do that last year. In those early days of the pandemic, every month felt like there was enough content and photographs to fill an entire photo issue on its own. The two-week shutdown we were all promised (although, admittedly, my anxiety never let me believe it would only be two weeks) had stretched on for four months, the world around us felt dire and exhausting, and a great many fearful thoughts were passing through my brain at all times.
However, I do remember telling a handful of people who would listen how proud and honored I was to be a contributor to this magazine, especially at this moment in history. I was mainly touring and shooting live music photography prior to the shutdown and was obviously out of work when quarantine first began. So having the opportunity to pivot my skills into documenting things like food deliveries to overworked hospitals, portraits of the city’s elder culture-bearers, protests against police brutality and systemic racism, and the hoppers’ strike for ANTIGRAVITY kept me going. It kept me moving, and it kept me involved in my community in a way that I simply would not have been without this magazine. I am sure many of my fellow AG photographers would say the same. So let’s everyone say a big fat “Welcome Back!” (but did you really say it?) to the Photo Issue. She’s here, she’s beautiful, and I am so excited for you to dive in.
Each photographer featured in these pages is vastly different from one another, unique in their composition or subject matter or style. Each image represents a small window into the last year-plus, at what New Orleans has looked and felt like through a pandemic. Some photographs from the last 16 months can be incredibly hard to look back at; and after crying my way through an editing session earlier this year, my therapist told me something I will never forget. She said she understood how painful seeing those moments again could feel and then asked, “But aren’t photographs supposed to make you feel something?”
Thank you to my editors Dan, Adrienne, and the entire AG editorial team for trusting me to write this intro coherently—and of course a huge round of proverbial applause for this month’s contributing photographers. We love what we do and are honored to present our images to you. If there is one thing I hope this issue does, I hope it makes you feel.
photo of Katie Sikora by Adrienne Battistella
Cover photo: Big Queen Cherice Harrison-Nelson steps through the doorway at the Shrine of St. Jude at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church after the saging of the streets on July 31, 2020. The saging of the streets was organized by Harrison-Nelson, Dianne Honore Destrehan, and Alison McCrary to help the city heal following the Hard Rock Hotel collapse and the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic. (photo by James Cullen)