I grew up across the river, a term we used that separated New Orleans by the Crescent City Connection (Crescent city bridge) and the Mississippi River. We always joked how any commute from New Orleans is 15 minutes outside the city. It was that close, how small it was of a community. I lived most of my life in Harvey, LA until our family moved across country to Southern California in 2006. But New Orleans was always a place special enough that was hard enough to leave behind. I had family throughout the city and I still have family living there. The people is what made the city. You always have this humble feeling with anyone you come across with. Growing up in New Orleans we knew very well what it meant when Hurricane season begun. We always stayed behind 4-5 families all under one roof. We joked how we called it a hurricane party, but with those 16 years of living out there we never had a hurricane making landfall or serious damage. The year Katrina hit I was living in California. I remember the time my family made the decision to evacuate to Houston. With most of the city leaving New Orleans, the commute lasted hours if not days. People abandoned on the side of the roads, no where to go and running out of gas. I didn't experience it first hand but I felt what my family and everyone else was going through. I spent about a month in Houston visiting with my family after Katrina made landfall. It was a tough transition because many people who left didn't have any news or a way to get back into the city to check on their properties. With the high waters no one was allowed in. It took my family two months to finally be allowed to go in, but it was still tough to go through the city. The commute was longer by taking a different route around the city. What we came too was horrible to see. So much damage and abandonment. 

A year later, my father and I decided to head out towards the city and neighborhoods. At the time I wasn't practicing photography, but I still loved documenting even with my tiny 8mp point and shoot. I've had these images stored for nine years. I don't believe anyone knew I had them or my father ever knew what happen to them. But I appreciate him for taking me around the city I grew up in. A year after these images were taken you still got that eerie apocalyptic feeling. Today the city has stood up and still rebuilding. Many homes have been rebuilt high enough to withstand floods, but they have yet to been tested.  pray it never happens again because the city is beautiful and rich with history. You see how much effort has been put into growing such a strong and beautiful city. I'm proud to call it my second home and I'm proud for family still being there. 

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
— Walt Disney
houston family documentary photography

Looking to book for a documentary family photographer? Samarie-Lei Photography is offering in-home, on location or travel sessions. 
Locations include Katy, Houston, surrounding areas but not limited to locations outside of Texas. Please visit my contact page and send me a note to check with availability and pricing.