Focus on the Photographer : Josh Etienne
We first met Josh at an event hosted by Nola Grown (close friends and collaborators with DNO) last year. Since then, he has shot several events at DNO stores, shared a helicopter flight, and made portraits of so many mutual friends. He caught up with DNO over the holidays, sent us some photos to post, and talked more about his craft. Starting with some good words and more background on Nola Grown:
I have had a great relationship with all the members of Nola Grown we all collaborate really well. They’re always working on something new & different to bring to the city and spark people’s mind to create on their own. What I like most about NG is their ability to work as a family and still have time to push each other’s individual ventures. They believe in the success of every member, but nothing will be given for free, you have to work hard for every achievement. We criticize each other’s work and explain how different things could be done to make that particular project better. Which is needed for some one to become better at anything. Nola Grown is a solid support system and I’m glad that our paths have crossed. I know nothing but greatness is in the future of this blossoming company.
My name is Josh Etienne, and I’m from New Orleans.
How long have you been taking photos?
I have been taking photographs for about 6yrs, during my free time after my jobs.
Is photography your primary medium?
My first medium was writing poetry or spoken word, but photography has become my favorite medium. I used to write as a form of relaxation. Writing was how I cleared my mind, when my imagination would run wild.
What is your favorite medium, technique, or platform for sharing your work?
Photography is my new favorite medium. Instagram used to be my favorite platform to share my work until I saw my photographs on a larger scale on my website. Seeing my images full screen has made me appreciate the work I do even more.
What have you learned lately through producing art?
The past few years, I have learned that moments are fleeting and should always be documented, especially the good ones. You never know what the future holds. I want to be able to look back at my photographs and enjoy the nostalgia. Also, I've learned how to view the world in a photographic sense. I see normal objects as props in photo shoots now. My mind works differently once I fully embraced my craft.
Is there anything that you have learned through art that has made you a better person as a whole?
Yes, before photography I was very anti-social. Pursuing this career has helped me to open up to new life experiences. I’ve also met a lot of new creative people to work with. I’m very eager to learn & create more using my crafts. My work ethic has increased tremendously as well. I work a full time, a part time job, & still find time to do photography. I used to complain about not having enough time to practice photography with one job. Now I just make it work whichever way I can. I'm more assertive in asking my clients to adjust their bodies during photoshoots now. I used to let them pose however they wanted and my photos would seem like they were lacking. I've learned so much from my mistakes.
What else are you working on right now?
As of now, I am working on finishing photos for a maternity shoot. Also, I did a random photoshoot with a friend. Now I’m looking through those photographs and finding new ways of editing them. Just trying to stay ahead of myself. Learning new ways of using light to make sure I have the correct exposure when I'm photographing different things. I have to stay prepared for new ventures that I believe are coming my way.
What inspires you most about New Orleans?
New Orleans as a whole is inspiring. I love my city,from the people, the food, and the culture. New Orleans gives you no choice but to fall in love with all those things. When you go to a second line and watch the New Orleanians dance & celebrate life, you see the joy in the faces of everyone participating. Seeing those beautiful indians suits is always a plus as well. The artistry & the time it takes to create those Indian suits is astounding. For years I have watched my uncle sew a new suit to debut on Mardi Gras day. His favorite suit is the one he made in memory of my aunt. The Indian suit is pink with ribbons of each form of cancer on it ,to pay tribute to all types of cancer. Every year since the passing of my aunt he has worn his suit for the breast cancer walk to honor her and everyone else who is fighting their own battles with the disease. New Orleans has my heart and the way I photograph is inspired by what I see on a daily basis in this amazing city.
Are there any wise words you'd like to share?
My Words of Wisdom are don’t give up no matter how hard it seems. No matter how long it takes for you to get to the finish line. As a photographer in my eyes I’m not where I want to be just yet. I am further a long than I was when i first started, but I still have goals I want to reach. I’m inspired every day by local photographers I follow on my Instagram feed. I have followed most of these people my entire time as a photographer and watched their progression its amazing. New Orleans has a lot of hidden talent that needs to be brought to light. I feel if we as peers in New Orleans work together we can benefit in more ways than one to better ourselves in this at art form.
This image means a lot to me because it’s a photo of my little cousin and his soon to be wife having their first baby. I really appreciate my family always going out their way to support me. He and his fiancé flew down from Dallas for this shoot & said they didn’t want any other photographer to photograph their special moment. Also, they wouldn’t even let me offer them a discounted rate. Most of the people I shoot automatically expect that just because I know them. I take extreme pride when a client supports me enough to totally agree with my rate and put complete trust in my artistry.
The Million March October 10,2015; a wonderful day in history. This was my first time in Washington, D.C. and I loved every bit of this trip. From experiencing the powerful words of every speaker, to being able to roam and photograph D.C. Also, knowing I could relate to the struggles of the human beings speaking of a change we desperately need in this world just made me even more proud to have taken this adventure. I saw this gentleman holding the flag in black & white and instantly thought unity. I needed to take this photo just for my keepsake because it just touched my heart to see such a large crowd in attendance to support a powerful agenda.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a beautiful way to show off our culture and the New Orleans spirit. I love this city and I love to talk about how this city has made so many tourist fall in love. Mardi Gras has that affect time & time again on everyone. It’s amazing to watch the floats drive pass while the innocent by standers yell to catch a piece of New Orleans to bring back home with them. This photo of the Zulu man holding a coconut is an example of how much pride New Orleanians take in participating in the Mardi Gras heritage.
Every one knows New Orleans for a good time and seafood. There’s nothing like a crawfish boil during a family gatherings. I was hanging with some friends from high school when my friends’ family pulled out the crawfish pot to boil before the endymion parade. Endymion is one of the biggest parades besides the Zulu parade on Mardi Gras. Many families come together prepare a big feast and drink to celebrate that night. I enjoyed reminiscing on old high school times & seeing how everyone is doing now.
I love taking organic photos of people enjoying life. This is a photo of one of my best friends Macee and her family celebrating their sisters graduation. These are the most genuine group of people I know. When I met Macee, her family accepted me as if I was always family from day one. It’s all love when I’m around or any one else for that matter. in my opinion, it’s just that New Orleans spirit & hospitality that makes them this way. When you’re raised to treat people with respect & love them as your blood, you receive that same love back. A beautiful family with so much love to give.
I met Pell through Nola Grown when they shot a video for a song of his Floating While Dreaming EP. Pell has put so much passion behind his music that it just inspires you to work just as hard on your craft. He has always invited me to anything he does in New Orleans to take photos and just enjoy the moment. The vision he has for his career is amazing. I sat down with him one day in the old Nola Grown office and just listened to what he has planned. All I can is say is stay tuned!
One of my personal favorite photos of the city. This was the first time I worked with Patrick Melon (@melontao). That guy’s work ethic is unbelievable. He called me at 3am and asked if I wanna take some photos of the sunrise. I automatically said yes because I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to learn something new. I enjoy going on photo adventures with different photographers. It’s a good time to share different tips with each other or even just meet a new peer. New Orleans has a lot of creative talent eager to explore the world.
Naturally Nawlins’ is all I see when I look at this photo. Most people who are apart of the New Orleans Indian culture started at this age. They were raised making their own indians suits, dancing at the second lines, and participating in all the New Orleans festivities. They’re taught the history about where the indian heritage in New Orleans began and then how to properly perform the tribal calls you see during Mardi Gras. I can only imagine the amount of knowledge passed down from generation to generation.
This is such clean image, I love the resolution and how perfect the lighting is. I used to look at photos like this one on the explore page and say one day my photography will be this good lol. I believe I'm there now. I knew reading all those different books and tips on different websites would pay off. I finally noticed the difference when I took this photo to post production. I have worked hard to get to where I am as a photographer, so when a image comes out the exact way I wanted it to, I’m extremely overjoyed.
A rare photo of me
practicing my craft at a second line, in Uptown New Orleans. I don’t really have many photos of myself because I don’t photograph well. I tend to always make an awkward face or pose lol. I do really like this photograph. I plan on getting it printed and framed so my kids can see their dad at work. I love what I do as a photographer and the memory I help create. I strive for the greatness every time I pick up my camera for a paid event or for leisure. I hope to one day place a camera in my child’s hand and hope they find the love I have for this art form.