(This is) Magnolia and her jacket

The kids and I were walking back from the Hammer when I saw this lovely young lady sitting on a stoop waiting for a Taxi.  She was looking at something on her phone and smiling with this big beautiful smile.  Then I noticed her jacket and my mind just flashed.  I swear I had one just like it when I was a kid–not like you needed one in New Orleans but I absolutely remember wearing a red one just like it this one time my parents decided to fly us up to visit my pop’s family in Detroit around Christmas time.  I think I was maybe 10.  My parents put my brother, sister and me on a plane, sans parent and away we went.  It was the first time I remember flying and it was mind-blowing.  The attendants checked in on us a couple times and brought us orange juice and peanuts but for the most part it was just the three of us, faces glued to the window for all 4 hours of the trip.

I remember seeing clouds like that for the first time.  Remember feeling so empowered and excited to be making the trip with my brother and sister.  Remember how crazed we were to finally see a huge dump of snow–more collateral damage of a NOLA upbringing was the distinct lack of snow.  We maybe got a flurry every decade or so but nothing like you would get in Detroit and we were jacked up to a million to run around in it.  

I remember putting on the jacket over a pair of matching red overalls covering my black snow boots.  I slid my red, mitten covered fists through the sleeves, zipped-up and barreled out the door and into the snow.  My brother followed immediately after me and last came my sister who could only move in small jerky gestures.  She was like the little brother in “A Christmas Story” or any episode of the Simpsons where Maggie has to wear overalls.   I was so proud of my red jacket, I remember.  I thought I looked like a real Michigan winter dude, just give me a mountain and a sled and I would conquer that shit.    

So I pass this girl and all this flashes through my mind.  I’m half way to the car when I stop dead in my tracks and head back to where she’s sitting.  She looks up from her phone and I introduce myself.  I tell her my name and ask her if I can make a portrait of her.  Turns out her name is Magnolia.  She asks why and I bumble through my usual explanation of how I make street portraits from time to time and how they’re usually candid but sometimes I’ll ask permission first.  I show her my Insta account so she can see I’m not a creep.  I tell her how much I love her smile and that I love her jacket and I can see I’ve winning her over.  Meanwhile my kids are looking-on and laughing like crazy people–their old man is making a fool of himself right before their very eyes.  Magnolia says she would love to have her picture taken and I make two portraits of her right then, sitting on the stoop in that vintage jacket and that incredible smile.  

This is Magnolia and her Jacket, shot on Kodak Tri-X 400, +1 on my Mamiya 6mf, processed by the lovely folks at the Icon. 

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