Coming into Alexandria, Louisiana up Route 1 from the south was a difficult ride. Buildings were crumbling, houses were obviously lived in but shouldn’t have been and the road itself was terrible. And then, before I knew it, I was in the heart of downtown, and at first glance it was more of the same. Broken glass, graffiti and boarded up old buildings seemed to be everywhere. I seriously considered turning around and heading right back out of town. But I knew Alexandria had been around for over 200 years and sat right on the banks of the Red River; there must be beauty there to capture somewhere. So I parked and started walking and slowly, very slowly, the beauty of Alexandria started to emerge from the cracks. I started wiping away the years with my mind and my lens and found some extraordinary buildings and scenes to photograph. And then, as happens, I started talking to the people who live there and every one of them from the businessmen to the homeless people were unbelievably friendly. While I found all of these wonderful scenes as I wandered the city, I would still say Alexandria’s real beauty is in its people. The more I lingered and the more people I talked to, the more it grew on me. I went to see a play at the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center, took a stroll along the levy and stopped in for a beer or two at Finnegan’s Wake. By the time I was pulling out of town, I had an entirely different opinion of Alexandria. This was definitely a case of “don’t judge a book by its cover”, stick around a while and you might just like what you find there.