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Dave Beazley

Title ︎︎︎ Oh, Louisiana
Louisiana is a world unto itself. A place where a stones throw from the bustling New Orleans, you can be in the heart of the Bayou, surrounding by nothing by water, nature and alligators, with only a small boat and a camo’d guy called Walter, who you only just met, as your guide.

Louisiana is wild. It’s full of those over of the next hill moments where anxiety and excitement swirls in the pit of your stomach. That type of feeling you seek out as a photographer, reassuring you you’re on the right path...hopefully. That’s what drew me back several times over the course of a year. Southern hospitality is truly a thing, allowing me to meet many warm, fascinating people, learning about their ways of lives and perspectives, leading as you so often wish to introductions to their friends, family, friends of family, and those local legend - you’ve really got to meet types.

With no set route, I freely explored the state: traveling from the beat up roads of the cities, across the endless bridges that cut across the picturesque swamps or bayou’s (I still don’t know the difference), to the farmlands and stunning landscape, which made me question if I’d driven up and down one hill since I’d arrived. Yep, the state of the roads, and how flat Louisiana is soon became apparent, along with those personal observations I guess each traveler reflects upon: like strangely how reminiscent parts of the state, especially on the west side near Lake Charles, are to the English countryside I grew up in.

It soon became apparent that Louisiana is a place of passion for its culture and traditions: Cajun, Creole, Mardi Gas, Zydeco and Jazz music, and much much more.

It’s also a strange intoxicating contradiction; and that’s not just the weather. There’s alligators, or gators to the locals, but no one seems all that bothered by them. Apparently they are more scared of us! Look one direction and all you see is the beauty of nature: eagles, and other birds I don’t know the names of in cypress trees, overlooking the Mississippi River. Yet, do a one-eighty and you’re greeted with the smokey horizon and blurred lights of a nearby power station.

I mean, where else would you see a guy freely able to sell his homemade knives on his doorstep no more than 10 meters from the entrance to Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly known as Angola Prison. The first of many jaw dropping moments as I sit in a traffic waiting to enter the largest prison in the country! The sprawling 28 mi2 compound to watch the annual prison rodeo at its sell out 10,000 seater arena. The main Guts and Glory event where $300 is awarded to the winning prisoner. The only catch being that in order to win the cash you have to be the one to take a poker chip off the horn of a 2000lb bull who’s not all that happy about the situation.

These photos look to depict a moment in time in an environment that is forever changing, and a people who are fiercely passionate to preserve their way of life, whatever that may be, where so much else is out of their control. All of this - whatever this is - to me, is what makes Louisiana the most fascinating and unique place I’ve ever visited.

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