what to photograph in new orleans

The mural next to the historic Ashé Cultural Arts Center reflects musicians influenced by NOLA. (Photo: Whitney Mitchell)

New Orleans

Capture the Soul of New Orleans, One Photograph at a Time

New Orleans is nicknamed the “Big Easy,” and the city is a blend of Spanish, Creole and Cajun cultures, among others, melded with Southern charm — all beautifully set along the mighty Mississippi River.

As one of America’s most distinctive cities, its vibrant culture, diverse people and beautiful architecture make it a place where there are more opportunities than expected to photograph its countless charms.

And while it’s easy to get caught up in the grandeur of the city’s French Quarter, Garden District and lush parks, it’s important to focus on the many quirks that make this colorful Louisiana city stand out.

Whitney Mitchell, influencer and the creator of Twomacks, just returned from a stay at SpringHill Suites by Marriott New Orleans Downtown/Canal Street, where she learned keeping alert for any and every opportunity to capture a great shot would yield so many more incredible photos than she anticipated.

what to photograph in new orleans
Street names in tile on the … street. (Photo: Whitney Mitchell)

“The treats are in the details in the city, from the street signs on the sidewalks in the French Quarter to the Mardi Gras beads hanging in the trees, waiting for the next parade to roll by,” she says.

Here Whitney shares tips for capturing the Big Easy’s magic and turning your experiences into beautiful ‘gram reflections of your bayou travels.

Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard

Named in honor of Oretha Castle Haley, a Civil Rights pioneer, this street is located in the Central City neighborhood near the St. Charles streetcar line. Commonly abbreviated to O.C. Haley Boulevard, it’s become a bustling cultural district post−Hurricane Katrina.

Here you’ll find locally owned and culturally oriented businesses, restored buildings and, most importantly, beautiful murals.

“There’s an amazing mural on O.C. Haley next to the historic Ashé Cultural Arts Center reflecting the great musicians that have shared their talents with the city,” says Whitney. Painted on the side of a building, the mural has spectacularly brilliant colors that make it a favorite of photographers and Instagrammers.

Take time to learn about the region’s culinary history at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, a nonprofit celebrating food and drink of the South. Visit the museum restaurant’s historic bar (built in 1851) to sip a classic cocktail.

Instagram tip: When capturing O.C. Haley, it’s all about color. “Have fun with saturation and amplifying the colors around you,” says Whitney. “Slide that scale up and watch your primary color pop.”

Pythian Market

what to photograph in new orleans
Eat and drink at historic Pythian Market. (Photo: Courtesy of Pythian Market)

A haven of history, the Pythian Market was first constructed in 1908 as a safe place for the African American community and was home to businesses, a theater and a rooftop garden with live jazz music.

Its carefully restored exterior is a beautiful place to capture photos, but stepping inside the new food hall to visit food purveyors, craft cocktail makers and retailers is equally dazzling.

Whitney says the humans of Pythian make it an authentic expression of the city. “The true experience of New Orleans is its people. While Pythian is new to the community, its space is driven by spirit.”

Whitney encourages visitors to look to the food hall’s social media accounts so they can plan to visit and photograph the market’s community events.

And when it comes to food, Whitney has her must-eat favorites. “Oxtail and jerk chicken from 14 Parishes definitely make every trip to Pythian a savory dream,” she says.

Instagram tip: Whitney suggests visitors truly savor the moment and experience the market before setting up a photo. “Marinate in the spaces you visit and take in the spirit before diving into a picture or a video,” she says. “You’ll see everything a little more clearly, and you’ll document the perfect extension of the joy you felt.”

“The Fly” Along the Mississippi River

Considered the New Orleans equivalent of a beach, “The Fly” is the waterfront portion of Audubon Park and a place where locals come to relax, toss a frisbee and even barbecue on sunny days. “If you’re seeking a picturesque view of a crawfish boil or mighty
tugboats working up and down the river, you’re in for a treat at The
Fly,” says Whitney.

For exceptional sunset snapshots, bring a blanket and claim a space on the grass to watch the sky change colors behind the water. Capture lively moments like frisbees flying, dogs jumping and smoke wafting up from barbecue grills for an authentic look at the city’s locals.

Instagram tip: When it comes to photographing here, Whitney says it’s all about lighting. “When you’re facing the
river, adjust your image exposure to not wash out the color of the sky
and the greenery around.”

what to photograph in new orleans
Keep your eyes open for shadows and angles. (Photo: Whitney Mitchell)

Bayou Road

Head to the first street laid in New Orleans, Bayou Road. Famous for its surviving original section of redbrick road, the street is known as a hotbed of Afro-Caribbean culture, art and innovation.

It’s home to locally owned shops, the city’s last remaining black-owned bookstore, an around-the-world assortment of restaurants, and a Caribbean nightclub. Photographers come to shoot the historic homes, churches and storefronts that line Bayou Road, as well as colorful murals and its iconic redbrick stretch.

Instagram Tip: Whitney calls New Orleans, “a city of flamboyance rooted in color,” and nowhere does that seem truer than on Bayou Street. Here she tells visitors to “embrace warm and vibrant tones to maintain the magic seen on every corner.”

Streetcars on Canal Street

For just $1.25, you can ride a piece of New Orleans history. The city’s streetcars glide past towering live oaks, grand mansions and old cemeteries as they travel between the French Quarter and New Orleans’ Central Business District.

what to photograph in new orleans
Take a ride on a one of the city’s historic cars. (Photo: Whitney Mitchell)

The vintage streetcars are a fun way to get around, and hopping off to take photos of them backed by colorful, historic buildings is Instagram gold.

Whitney loves the Canal Street line specifically for its streetcars’ style. “Canal Street’s streetcars are a beautiful red — much different than the forest-green cars that ride down the St. Charles line,” she says.

Instagram tip: Whitney suggests using tools built into Instagram to improve your streetcar images. “Use the Structure tool to establish clean lines, and have fun with a vignette to frame the streetcar as your focal point,” she says.

To see more of Crescent City’s authentic vibes, Whitney recommends following and using the hashtags #OneTimeinNOLA and #FollowYourNOLA on Instagram. She adds, “Here you’ll find thousands of unique perspectives and bridges to more experiential spaces within the city.”