Two things really excited me about working with Bethany Bultman: the first was meeting the person behind the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic and Assistance Foundation, the group that has helped provide me with much of my healthcare in the last decade; the second was photographing her in her home which she turned into the NOMAF’s headquarters (and by home I mean beautiful Garden District mansion). As a cellist in a (now defunct) rock band following Katrina and later a member of the Noisician Coalition and employee at the Spotted Cat Music Club on Frenchmen street, I was one of the many people who qualified to use the Musicians’ Clinic as their primary care provider. That service has been completely indispensable, helping me and many friends get the healthcare we’ve needed when we couldn’t afford insurance. Even now with the Affordable Healthcare Act, The NOMAF is still filling the gaps where my marketplace policy has fallen short. I’m extremely grateful for the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic and I was really honored to photograph the woman who started it all.
The day I visited Bethany’s home just off of St. Charles, I found her in a meeting with other foundation organizers. They sat in a room decorated with the most eclectic collection of world art and textiles I had ever encountered. It felt more like a museum than an office and made an excellent backdrop for photos. I was a fly on the wall during the meeting and afterwards got to visit the Garden Room with Bethany and her interviewer, Fred Goodrich, where we had planned to shoot their portraits. We weaved through the maze of a house, in and out of more rooms with more incredible antique art and furniture, and landed in a room filled with giant plants and trees, a greenhouse without the heat. It was a very special place that felt more than just a little magic. I gotta say I was pretty reluctant to leave- but I made sure to ask if I could use the room again for a future shoot.
Check out the video below created by Neighborworks America, StoryCorps and LRW Photography to hear how Bethany went from a writer in New York to the creator of an organization that betters the lives of Musicians all over New Orleans.