“Thanks for asking. I sort of just quit shooting photographs three weeks ago,” Akasha Rabut replied when I asked about featuring her work in these pages. Her answer was bewildering, because as long as I've known Akasha, she has always been shooting someone, something, somewhere. Why suddenly quit her long-term passion? Akasha explained that it was time for a reboot. I’m hoping this is a temporary detour. There are few photographers able to capture cultural lineage and experience with such natural grace.

Crossing the country a few years back, I made a first-time visit to New Orleans where much of my perspective and understanding of the city came directly from Akasha’s photos. I have since been mystified by NOLA's complex dichotomy, a place with immeasurable potential and promise, accompanied by perpetual problems. Moving to post-Katrina New Orleans after a pre-tech takeover in San Francisco six years ago, Akasha has integrated herself, camera in hand, into varying communities and subcultures across the 17 wards. Documenting the Caramel Curves, the first all-female motorcycle club in NOLA, has become her most well-known body of work to date. Other subjects range from 504 Boyz, an urban horseback riding organization, to high school marching bands, majorettes and dance teams, and the traditional, elaborately crafted, wildly colorful suits of the Mardi Gras Indians. And then there is everything in between: a myriad of images that encapsulate the expansive identities and landscapes that make up this eternally enigmatic, alluring town. —Austin McManus


Originally published in the January 2017 issue of Juxtapoz Magazine, on newsstands worldwide and in our web store.