As a Baton Rouge native, Erica Kane looked to New Orleans for inspiration. “To me it was like a real city,” she says. “I was introduced to so many new things that you don’t really have here in Baton Rouge.” When she moved to New Orleans right after high school, Kane started taking pictures. “I wanted to capture it. That’s’ when it started. I got my first digital camera, a Canon Rebel.”
With her ongoing series, A New Orleans Scene, Kane continues to document the ins and outs of New Orleans, especially its people. “People think [of New Orleans as] parties, second lines, festivals, having fun. You see a lot of pictures of second lines. You don’t really see everyday people in New Orleans walking to school or going to the corner store.” For Kane, the people are what make New Orleans what it is, particularly the Black community. “[I take pictures of the] Black community because that’s what New Orleans is to me. That’s what makes New Orleans so unique.”
While she documents the everyday life of New Orleans residents through the lens of street photography, Kane also gets invited into the community itself. “These are my neighbors,” she says. “Everywhere people are just so welcoming.” Once, a man stopped her on the street and asked about her camera. “He brought me into the neighborhood that he grew up in. They were having a party, sitting outside. They invited us to the back. They had free food, daiquiris. It’s really like going to your family member’s birthday party.”
Although some of the women at the party were hesitant to have their pictures taken, Kane quickly endeared herself to the group. “It’s fun,” she says. Many people on the street are interested in what she’s doing, and it isn’t difficult to involve the community directly in the project.
Even though she’s no longer a New Orleans resident, Kane is still drawn capture the unique character of New Orleans through her images. “I’m not connected to New Orleans like my hometown, but these are still my people.” As gentrification continues to shift the demographics of New Orleans since Katrina, it’s more important than ever to document and remember the city as it is. “I definitely want to capture the neighborhoods because they are changing from gentrification. I want to capture as much as I can before things are gone.”