Published: October 2004
Robert Caputo

What was your best experience in the field covering this story?

I hung out with these commercial fishermen who work out of a little town down on the bayou called Leeville. It’s the kind of life a lot of us don’t really get a chance to see very much. These people still live the way their fathers and their grandfathers did, trying to make a living from the marshes. They’re really struggling economically, and yet they’re so generous. It was great being able to spend time with them and to be welcomed into their lives so easily.

What was your worst experience in the field covering this story?

I really wanted to get a picture that shows how New Orleans is being affected by the loss of the wetlands. I found a place that had once been a cypress swamp, but saltwater intrusion had killed all the trees. Dead skeletal cypresses stuck up from the marsh, and just beyond was the New Orleans skyline. I must have gone out there eight times, sinking mid-thigh in the muck. It was a real battle getting in the right position to take the picture, and some mornings the weather was lousy. I kept going back thinking I’d get the perfect light, but I never did.

What was your quirkiest experience in the field covering this story?

I wanted to show what would happen if New Orleans flooded, so I found this 18-foot (5-meter) surveyor’s pole, went down to Bourbon Street, and got bar manager Casey Pommells to stand on the street holding the pole. It was very amusing, but it was hard to get a candid picture. Everybody on the street kept stopping and staring at Casey, who then had to explain what we were doing. It took a long time to get that one frame that worked.