New Book Features Stunning “Over New Orleans” Photos

St. Joseph’s Cemetery on South Liberty Street in Central City. (Photo by Marco Rasi)

One of the many photos taken in the French Quarter. (Photo by Marco Rasi)

Tulane University geographer Richard Campanella has over a dozen books to his name, and he is proud of them all.

But as he leafed through the pages of Over New Orleans: Crescent City Skyline (LSU Press), the recently published book he collaborated on with drone photographer Marco Rasi, there is sure to be none more mind-boggling.

“Marco is uniquely adept at coming out at the right times and in the right places to capture truly unique perspectives of New Orleans. “

Richard Campanella, professor at the Tulane School of Architecture

Over New Orleans is Crescent City’s first comprehensive drone photography book, featuring stunning aerial scenes that span the entire metropolitan area from the French Quarter and Uptown to Gentilly and Gretna. A detailed description written by Campanella accompanies each photo, providing insight into the city’s rich history, geography and architecture.

Aerial images include the gardens of the Beauregard-Keyes House, the rooftops along Chartres Street towards Jackson Square, St. Claude Avenue in the Marigny suburb, Crescent Park in Bywater, the Lower Ninth neighborhood along from the Industrial Canal, Ecclesiastical Square in the Irish Channel and the New Orleans Botanical Garden in City Park.

When Campanella first saw the footage of Rasi, he was surprised – in a good way. What he saw were spectacular bird’s-eye views that otherwise would be impossible to obtain in the often compact environment of New Orleans.

“Marco is uniquely adept at coming out at the right time and in the right places to capture truly unique perspectives of New Orleans,” said Campanella, professor at the Tulane School of Architecture. “I said, ‘Marco, you have to do a book. You have to get them published. These are invaluable. “

Rasi, a retired engineer from Florence, Italy who has now taken up residence in New Orleans, first passed on the idea. Drone photography was his hobby, and he considered the process of publishing books to be a job. But he eventually warmed to the idea, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic left him desperate to get out of his home and do something productive.

“When the virus hit, I thought, ‘Maybe I need to find something to do. Let me talk to Rich to see what it would take to make a book. ‘ I went to talk to him – socially and with masks – and he described the whole process. “

“He said, ‘Marco, here’s what we can do. Give me your favorite photos and I’ll take care of the rest. The idea that Rich would take care of everything, including writing the captions and proposing the publication to LSU Press, really got me excited.

Campanella was also thrilled to be working on the book. “We proceeded with a sense of confidence that this was going to happen. Marco gathered all of his photos and we did a ranking based on aesthetics and coverage area. We listened to each other. We made a compromise. And we’ve made our list. It was pretty fun after all. “

One of Rasi’s favorite photos is a photo of a second-line parade down the Mississippi River Embankment in the Lower Ninth Ward. “All the musicians are marching against a sunset sky. We only see the silhouette of the musicians and their instruments in the sky. I think this is an image that would be difficult to reproduce.

Rasi is passionate about the culture, history, and architecture of New Orleans, and he credits Campanella with choosing Crescent City over San Francisco as his retirement home. It was through Campanella’s books that Rasi and his wife – then with three grown children living in the United States – became fascinated with New Orleans.

“I read books on the two cities,” he said. “All the books on New Orleans that were really good were written by Rich. I decided to retire here because of Rich’s books.

After moving to New Orleans in 2015, Rasi asked Campanella if he could attend some of his classes at the School of Architecture. Campanella readily agreed and the two became close friends. Meanwhile, Rasi is interested in urban geography. An amateur photographer for the past few years, he embarked on learning drone photography in order to capture New Orleans in a whole new way.

“I bought a drone and from the first day I flew it, my desire to go higher to see more of New Orleans was totally in my hands,” he said. “But I still don’t want this to become a job. I just do it for fun.

Photo of "Over New Orleans"

Looking down on what was once known as Lee Circle. (Photo by Marco Rasi)

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