No Two Alike

David Spielman and his socks
Photographer David Spielman enjoys displaying his individuality by wearing non-matching socks. With a sense of humor and a helping of tongue in cheek, he started wearing unmatched socks decades ago during the reign of President Ronald Reagan and President Jimmy Carter as a protest to so much attention being given to power ties worn by men. His current show of 77 photographs from “The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City,” from his new book published by The New Orleans Historic Collection, is displayed in an exhibit at the Williams Research Center, 400 Chartres St., until January 2016.

David Spielman marches to a different drummer in his costume de rigueur – khakis or jeans, a starched button down oxford shirt and non-matching socks. Non-matching socks? What is a serious photographer doing wearing non-matching socks?

“With a sense of humor and tongue in cheek, I started wearing non-matching socks in the late 1970s and 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan got shot, followed by President Jimmy Carter dealing with the hostage crisis in Iran,” David says. “The economy was wild and many changes were taking place.”

David remembers how the fashion world for men also seemed off kilter, with power ties taking center stage.

“It seemed to me that too much was being said about the color and pattern of neckwear for men,” he says. “I thought it was over the top and silly. My reaction was to fight the trend by poking fun at all the power ties and making a non-trendy fashion statement of dressing my feet in unmatched socks.”

Wondering if anyone would even take notice of his change, David says it didn’t take long for his socks to grab attention.

“I remember sitting in a meeting and noticing a nearby person looking at my socks with a degree of confusion and a worried expression on their face,” he says. “My reaction was to lean over and whisper, ‘You know, I have another pair of socks just like these at home,’ and after a long pause, a smile would cross their face. Then I would explain my reasons for wearing non-matching socks and everything would be off to a good start. At most subsequent meetings the curious person would ask to see my socks.”

This spurred David on, delighted by his ability to “make people smile.”

Catching the public’s eye for more than his non-matching socks, David is garnering attention for his new book, “The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City,” published by The New Orleans Historic Collection, along with the display of 77 of his images at the Williams Research Center, 400 Chartres St., until January 2016. “Katrinaville Chronicles,” was David’s first book on the subject.”

A photographer since he was 15, David smiles as he quotes the words of Edgar Degas, the famous French artist with ties to New Orleans: “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

“I too strive to make others see with my photographs,” he says.

David adds that he loves the darkroom and the magic it yields and hopes to take pictures until the day before he dies. Then he offers a one-page treatise that lists gems of free thought about his life that begins: “David Spielman is a photographer who has modest but eccentric tastes. Starts each day with a run. Regimented in a helter-skelter world. Sees, feels and thinks differently than most. Always ready for a challenge, adventure or a new project. Enjoys the collaborative efforts with other creative types, Studied in Vienna. Married to Shelly Landrieu, a wonderful and beautiful woman. Enjoys Sasha, his super son who was adopted from Russia when he was two years old. Skeptical with a perverse sense of humor. Matched socks, never.”

For those who would like to see David’s photography and his non-matching socks, he has just opened a new gallery at 1332 Washington Avenue, caddy-corner from Commander’s Palace Restaurant in the Garden District.




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