(Baton Rouge, LA) — The LSU College of Art and Design is pleased to announce the publication of a new book of Hurricane Katrina photographs and essays by renowned photography professor Thomas Neff. Published by the University of Missouri Press, the book is entitled Holding Out and Hanging On: Surviving Hurricane Katrina, and contains intense portraits and emotive stories of New Orleans citizens who chose not to evacuate as Hurricane Katrina approached.
As a volunteer in the city in the early days after the storm, Neff witnessed firsthand the confusion and suffering that was New Orleans—as well as the persistence and strength of those who stuck it out. He subsequently spent 45 days interviewing and photographing the city’s holdouts, and his record is a heartbreaking but compelling look at the true impact of the disaster.
At a time when New Orleans residents felt isolated and abandoned, Neff provided the ear many needed. The friendship he extended enabled him to capture remarkable images and to write sensitive commentaries that approach his subjects from a uniquely personal perspective. Here are Antoinette K-Doe assessing the future of her ruined Mother-in-Law Lounge; Juan Parke, who ferried scores of people to safety in his silver canoe; Ashton O’Dwyer defending his property from looters; Ride Hamilton pausing in his work as a freelance medic. These portraits and dozens more tell the story of the storm through many voices—and collectively they tell a story of their own.
While other books have documented the wrath of Katrina, none has captured the human dimension as powerfully as Holding Out and Hanging On. Through these intimate, intense images, readers will meet people from all walks of life who are exhausted by grief and shock but determined to hold on to their culture and their city.
Neff has been a professor of photography in the School of Art since 1982 and he is the coeditor of Teaching Photography. He has traveled extensively in Italy, Ireland, China, and Japan, producing bodies of work that focus on people, landscape, and architecture. His collection of Katrina photographs have appeared in galleries.