PRESS & COMMENTS:
"Best know for his unique studio portraits of the Mardi Gras Indians, Christopher Porché West has emerged as one of the best of New Orleans photographers. His work is marked by warmth, passion, and impact, and by an impeccable care for detail."-- Gary Esolen New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation
"Many a shutterbug- professional and amateur-has snapped action shots of the Mardi Gras Indians. Photographer Christopher Porché West, however, has achieved the rare and possibly singular distinction of luring numerous representatives of the generally press-shy tribes into his studio to have their portraits taken in a controlled environment. The results are intimate and revealing images that show the fine details..."-- Gambit New Orleans Weekly Galleries: Best Bets
"Mr. West's honesty with the camera reflects his own personal convictions and his honesty with the people with whom he works manifest in their trust towards him."-- Kenneth Owen, Librarian Louisiana Collection, UNO Library
"This is a stunning exhibit. A wonderful testament to awesome beauty of the human spirit! You have captured the essence of this city in a way I've never seen!" -- Alden Kimbrough, L.A.
Legendary independent photographer Christopher Porché West operates out of this working studio and exhibit space. The atmosphere depends on the current focus and vigor of Porche-West's activities; sometimes it is more work-oriented, sometimes more formally set up for exhibits of his work or of other artists. The gallery occupies an old pharmacy storefront, which has become the hub of a hip block boasting restaurants, boutiques, and a yoga studio. Whenever the artist happens to be in, the gallery is open. You can also make an appointment (he's almost always nearby). --Fodor
To walk by Christopher Porché West's studio is to flirt with the muses. There is something about his space that pulls you in, capturing a sense of the soul of New Orleans. When entering into his studio (or to my mind, an installation) one is reminded of the Joseph Campbell boxes. Well aged architectural artifacts encase his photographs with candles scattered through out, creating a sacred environment and offering a testimony to New Orleans's rich heritage. Tucked into the Bywaters neighborhood, it was a treat to behold. West's work is also on display at Snug Harbor on Frenchmen's Street but to get the full effect, you must visit his studio. -- Jane Fulton Alt
After growing dissatisfied with commercial photography he returned to New Orleans to pursue his artistic work, full time, staying mainly with the same subject matter--people from the Seventh Ward--that first piqued his interest. Comparing his current vocation to his commercial photography career, he says, 'This sticks to your ribs and makes you a little thin in the pocketbook.' -- New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles
"My journey to the Crescent City is never complete without a visit to the soulful heart of your creations. You excel in connecting and enhancing. Your gift is to stimulate the deepest place with sacred revelry and to bring a sense of place simultaneously. You are one of my living heroes." -- Brenda Ladd, photographer Austin TX
"I have known, enjoyed, and admired the work of Christopher Porche West for years, but when he put a lot of his best work up in a sale of legacy prints it stimulated me to look closely at them, and to try to answer a question that has teased at me for a long time: how to define what is special, and central, to his work.
He is, of course, technically a very competent photographer. If you have any doubt about that, look at his many portraits of black people, and the detail he gets in their faces. Then go try it. But let me start with two things he is not.
First, he is not a photographer whose life and work is an endless search for the perfect conditions of light. (Think of Ansel Adams.) In fact, looking carefully through the legacy images, I cannot find even one which I am reasonably sure was shot during the magic hours of dawn or dusk, when light does photographers favors and forgives their sins. Many are clearly shot in the most difficult mid-day light when light is reflected from all directions and diffused through more particles in the atmosphere, which greys everything out. I know photographers who would never even get their cameras out under those conditions.
Second, he is not seeking what Henri Cartier-Bresson so famously called “the decisive moment.” Some critics think of the decisive moment as a triumph of photojournalism—catching things at the instant they happen. Yes, but Cartier-Bresson himself thought of it as a form of surrealism—capturing the patterns of a moment. Porchè West does neither. What he does is portraits. Cartier-Bresson said that the distinctive thing about portrait photography is that the subject knows he or she is being photographed, and gives permission. In the photography of his decisive moments his subjects usually never knew they were being photographed, and had they known the photograph could not have happened.
Which brings us to what is so special about Porchè West’s work: it lies in his attitude. His portraits are heroic. They deliberately make the statement that their subject is important, is grand, is worthy of special attention. They convey deep respect. A Mardi Gras Indian Chief, heroically posed or in a close-up; an old woman on her porch; children in the street—each is given the gift of being seen as the protagonist of life. There are no secondary characters in Porchè West’s images.
What Porchè West communicates is less personal but at the same time larger: it is a view of the world in which each person (his subjects are almost always people) is framed as the hero of life’s story. When he takes those photographs and makes them the center of his assemblages, he doubles down on that vision. During the aftermath of Katrina, my friend Lenwood Sloan told me that he looked at the televised images of people walking through water or sitting on their roofs or gathered at the Superdome or the Convention Center. He knew the world saw desperately poor, helpless people, the wretched of the earth. He saw, he said, Dukes and Duchesses, Chiefs and Spyboys, Princesses and Kings. Porchè West’s work is that large and that visionary. One displaced New Orleans girl, commenting on living in the Northeast, said “things are fine here, but no one here knows I am a Princess.”
Porche West knows." - Gary Esolen