Why New Orleans Musician Portraits Matter. Right. Now. by Zack Smith Photography

Everything good is possible through my viewfinder.

Guitarist and singer Harry Barton of The New Orleans Johnny’s on Decatur Street. 2019.

Guitarist and singer Harry Barton of The New Orleans Johnny’s on Decatur Street. 2019.

Let’s get political. Political…I wanna get political. Yea, I guess that doesn’t make sense if you don’t sing it to the tune of “Physical” by Olivia Newton John. Go ahead, try it. Does it make you see the same thing I do? No, I don’t see Rep’s n Dem’s with headbands deep into some NOLA-Jazzercise (btw I hate the word NOLA, stop using it now please) vision quest. I see the countless dollars spent by politicians and PACs to flood the TV screens and radio waves with attack ads and polished PR campaigns. As I have been in the ad and commercial photography world for so long I see it for what it is. Repeat the same message and hopefully swing voters forget what they stand for and take on your ideal. Well, I am here to say that the real things that matter is New Orleans music. New Orleans musicians. New Orleans sounds.

Make Portraits Not War. New Orleans Portraits Now.

I can think of a ton of mottos to get me inspired. Right now it’s all about turning off the TV and grabbing some strobes and a camera and taking over the streets, the alleys, the bar rooms of this city and making art. Do you feel sucked in by the negativity? Don’t know where to turn? Listen up…here’s my story: I was so thankful to have the opportunity to photograph The New Orleans Johnny’s for their new press shots last month. Harry Barton had a few ideas but pretty much let me run wild with my imagination on this one, and I went straight old school. Let’s gel a few cans and shoot in the night streets. Yes, you see my lingo, and that’s how I felt. We had a blast on Decatur Street doing portraits while holding up traffic and throwing light all over the block.

Catch the band near you soonhttp://www.neworleansjohnnys.com/

Prism photography with The New Orleans Johnnys in the middle of Decatur Street, New Orleans 2019.

Prism photography with The New Orleans Johnnys in the middle of Decatur Street, New Orleans 2019.

When in doubt, Jazz Party. Ok?

Delfeayo Marsalis photographed at his home, New Orleans 2019.

Delfeayo Marsalis photographed at his home, New Orleans 2019.

Over the last few years I have had the privilege to photograph trombonist and band leader Delfeayo Marsalis and his MANY musical projects. The guy is a machine - cranking out quality, fun, and danceable music at a pace seldom seen. As a New Orleans portrait photographer I get my share of gigs that may not feed the soul as much as I want, but a call from Delfeayo ups the ante every time.

Willie Green, David Pulphus, and Kyle Roussell photographed for Delfeayo Marsali’s “Jazz Party” album

Willie Green, David Pulphus, and Kyle Roussell photographed for Delfeayo Marsali’s “Jazz Party” album

I had the pleasure of photographing portraits and sections of Del’s band and go to meet so many musicians I had only heard about. Willie Green, David Pulphus, Kyle Roussell are a few. All good dudes, sharp, and man…on time! I love that.

Check out Delfeayo’s new album “Jazz Party” out soon! - https://www.dmarsalis.com/

Terrance Taplin, 2019.

Terrance Taplin, 2019.

Roger Lewis, 2019

Roger Lewis, 2019

Recent Work from Zack Smith Photography Studio by Zack Smith Photography

James Martin photographed in the French Quarter. ©Zack Smith Photography 2019

James Martin photographed in the French Quarter. ©Zack Smith Photography 2019

"One Foot in the Swamp...and One in the Street" has been my motto for some time.

It's been two years since I moved my office out of my home, opened up shop, and hung a shingle on Magazine Street. Having a my photography studio centrally located in such a great spot in New Orleans has been wonderful, minus the drive time from St. Bernard Parish.I have been truly blessed during that time to watch my business grow helping other businesses, brands, people, and artists tell their story in a creative and captivating way. I couldn't be happier but I really could share more photos with you!

My business has branched out to include more product and food photography along with the steady flow of portraits, headshots, events and workshops. I have an amazing team of editors, photographers, and copy editors who I trust with my life and that trust comes with letting go sometimes...and asking for help. I am having fun with focus stacking, HDR compositing, and doing things out of my normal workflow. I have found that delicate line between balancing the creative and functional photo shoots easier to walk as I continue to have One Foot in the Swamp and One in the Street

I hope you enjoy a few of my favorites over the last few months. I am truly grateful at the trust given to me by so many talented local makers, doers, and creatives. Please check them out and support what they do. I mean, EAT AT THE JOINT MORE!!

Now that’s a piece of meat. The Joint owner Peter Breen cuts into a slice of brisket.

Now that’s a piece of meat. The Joint owner Peter Breen cuts into a slice of brisket.

New Orleans food photography is tasteful and tasty!

Shooting food photography is truly an art form. I respect those that do it so well around me like Eugenia Uhl, Sara Essex Bradley, and Josh Brasted. I love what they do, and I never gave myself the time or even the opportunity to be open to shoot food. I always felt that a food photographer should be masterful, calculated, and intentional. I mean, I could be all of those things with people, so why not try a piece of meat? A moist but crusty tasty rib or slow pulled pork? I recently jumped at the chance to photograph my friends Pete and Jenny’s amazing New Orleans barbeque spot The Joint in the Bywater. I didn’t even think about it when Pete said he needed portraits, food, and shots of his smoker. I salivated and agreed. Happy I did - we did some creative lighting schemes like backlighting an open smoker, fire, and I got to experiment with focus stacking!


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New Orleans headshot photography can be relaxed, confident, and fun for just about anyone.

Bringing out the best version of a stranger is the ultimate exercise in humility. Not only does my subject bring with them their unique personality traits and expectations, they have their own internal questions, struggles, and apprehension. My job is to cut through any walls that may be put up between us when my camera comes between our conversations. A creative and professional headshot sounds easy but it’s not. Yes - it’s easy to see the real person when you just talk to them, camera at your side. But how can you continue that connections when the lights come on and the lenses are up? I continually strive to be present for them in this situation to bring out the best version of them.

From left to right: Huber, Thomas and Marcelle lawfirm, Jerome Jackson, Cameron Brown


New Orleans business architectural photography and HDR compositing!

When Jet Design/Build contacted me to photograph interiors and exteriors of their new build out of True Food Kitchen on Julia St I jumped at the chance to try my hand at some multi image High Dynamic Range architectural photography. I photographed each of the photographs above at different times of the day: dawn, mid day, and dusk. I was able to capture the range in tones of a perfect sky but also get some images at night to flood out the interior lights. Creating a multi image composite is not easy task. I used a tripod, marked my positions, and logged my settings so each time of day I came back I could reproduce that composition.

Photographing New Orleans musicians in the studio and on the streets has always been my happy place.

When local musician James Martin and Joel Jackson of JDV Booking contacted me to talk album artwork I was stoked to say the least. I have always been respectful of the art of demeanor or James Martin since I saw him play with bands through Jazz Fest and French Quarter Fest gigs through the years. His approach to his parts no matter who he was playing with were approached with mastery and power, while off stage you met a kind, low key, direct human. Love that. James was particular about his look, feel, and mood the album artwork, even sending me old LP’s and online examples of the feel he wanted. I love the old 1950’s and 60’s jazz artwork, reminiscent of my former mentor and master, Herman Leonard. I was honored to carry that torch with a new generation of jazz in New Orleans. We did some studio photography then went out at dusk to capture the blue mood of a wet city street. In attempting to capture even more mood, I created a Lightroom filter in James’ honor: Blue Mood James Martin. See it above, and go listen to his music!


Union Studios in New Orleans is fabricating dreams!

I had the pleasure of hanging out in a hot shed photographing the owners and creators at Union Studios on Broad Street. Daisy and Colin are beginning to make a name for themselves through the fine design, wood work, and fabrication they have done for clients around the city. When client and photographer trust in a vision it is easy for the creative spirit to thrive. We set up multiple scenes at their studio that helped tell the story of what they do from a hands-on textural level to wide view collaborative scenes. I really enjoyed listening to them talk about their client creative process and workflow as we moved around their shop lighting things up!


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What is a gallery without Dirty Coast?!

Long time friends and supporters over at Dirty Coast have always given me the go ahead to get creative at all costs. We recently shot inside some of the most historic landmarks New Orleans has to offer: The Prytania Theatre, Domilises’ Poboys, Peaches Records and 4 parked empty streetcars! We had a blast creating, eating, and making a mess of some great shirts.


Product photography in New Orleans can bring you to meet some creative souls

Ok so who doesn’t have an online hustle nowadays? Wether it be Amazon, eBay, etsy, Poshmark, or a variety of other online stores the barrier to entry in selling online remains attainable. But the e-commerce owner who wants to bring their store to the highest level must start with excellent photography that stands out in a crowd of competitors. At my studio I am able to convert a portion of my space to create simple and effective product photography, and if I wanted, this could be a steady flow of business for just about anyone. But the thing that attracts me to product photography in New Orleans is that each product someone creates, makes, and puts out there has as story unique like no other. I got to recently work with the amazing folks at the Trombone Shorty Foundation, RIYA, and local milliner (look it up!) Maria Etkind and each person had a conviction and passion they brought to each product. You know, that shows through. Oh, and I shot some diamonds!

Who likes lagniappe?

Here are a few images I have made recently that don’t fit into any business perimeters but still keep me sane and creative. Enjoy and share and KEEP SHOOTING FOR THE WALL!

Satchmo Summerfest 2019 Photo Gallery: The street speaks on Pop's Birthday by Zack Smith Photography

This says it all! Torrence Taylor dances with joy, pure joy, at Joe Lastie’s Satchmo set. I mean, JOE LASTIE!

This says it all! Torrence Taylor dances with joy, pure joy, at Joe Lastie’s Satchmo set. I mean, JOE LASTIE!

A New Orleans photographer is at home in the streets

The celebration of the life and music of New Orleans’ favorite son, Louis Armstrong, takes place on his birthday every year. In one full square block there are three stages dedicated to the influence that Satchmo has had and continues to have on the New Orleans music culture. When I say culture I mean the New Orleans music business, New Orleans music creativity, and the continued inspiration of the collective music conscience.

Norman Thomas, Grand Marshall, Zulu Steppers rolling down Rampart St on August 4th, 2019. ©Zack Smith Photography

Norman Thomas, Grand Marshall, Zulu Steppers rolling down Rampart St on August 4th, 2019. ©Zack Smith Photography

These inspirations were all evident at the 2019 Satchmo Summerfest put on by French Quarter Festivals Inc. Look, don’t get me wrong, the music is amazing, inspired, and well organized. What I am continually blown away by is the Sunday morning second line that stretches from St. Augustine Church in the Treme to the U.S. Mint, kicking off the last day in the best way. It’s downright HOT on this Sunday, and everyone is sweating through their shirts, pants, feathers, fans and suits while dancing.

Please spread this gallery around so all can enjoy! Tag and Share with your friends!I know I am missing some names so if you see someone not credited LET ME KNOW! I am sending the gallery out to the musicians I know that are featured but please share-away! I am so forever grateful for the opportunity to create and document the heart of such a wonderful city, much less be trusted to show the spirit of Louis Armstrong!

SATCHMO FEST - Saturday, August 3rd

(Credits at the bottom)

Left to Right, Top to Bottom

Cedric Wiley’s son, Kingston sings along with the Treme Brass Band / BennyJones Sr. of the Treme Brass Band / Doreen’s Jazz / Young festival goer / Brad Walker on saxophone, performs with Robin Barnes / Shannon Powell on drums / Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown and Roderick Paulin / Dancers / Joe Ashlar on piano (don’t touch his towel) / drummer Jamal Batiste / Big Six Brass Band / Doyle Cooper plays with no power…and in the rain / AJ on rain patrol / Rain goers tough it out / Banjo player, Seva Venet / French Quarter rain / James Williams / Simon Lott on drums / Ashlin Parker rehearsing backstage / Lafayette Academy band

SATCHMO FEST Sunday, August 4th

The Zulu Steppers looked amazing at the Satchmo Fest second line, I am so grateful for them in putting this composition together for the shot!

The Zulu Steppers looked amazing at the Satchmo Fest second line, I am so grateful for them in putting this composition together for the shot!

The Treme Brass Band blows hard, giving props to Sylvester Francis at the Backstreet Cultural Museum.

The Treme Brass Band blows hard, giving props to Sylvester Francis at the Backstreet Cultural Museum.

This vantage point of TBC Brass Band, Sudan SAPC, dancers and Armstrong Park are my favorite moments to witness and photograph. So much going on, it’s like a one page visual book you can’t put down.

This vantage point of TBC Brass Band, Sudan SAPC, dancers and Armstrong Park are my favorite moments to witness and photograph. So much going on, it’s like a one page visual book you can’t put down.

SUNDAY, August 4th gallery - credits at bottom

Left to Right, Top to Bottom

Diane Honore Destrehan and the Black Storyville SAPC / Zulu Steppers (need name!) / Benny Jones Sr. / Black Storyville Ladies (names anyone?) Treme Brass Band / Zulu Steppers / HOT Reveler! / Treme Brass Band / TBC Brass Band / Zulu Steppers / Treme Brass Band / Need name of trombone player! / Zulu Steppers / Sudan SAPC greet the entrance of the U.S. Mint / Charlie Halloran / Tim Laughlin’s tribute to Connie Jones / Joe Lastie on drums / Torrence Taylor dances at Joe Lastie’s set! / Ashlin Parker ushers in the next generation with his Trumpet Mafia group.

want more?? SEE SATCHMO 2018 HERE!

The business owner’s ultimate guide to e-commerce and product photography by Zack Smith Photography

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Sales..OR..Why Hire a Professional Photographer for Product Photography in New Orleans

We’ve all heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but we often do it anyway, and sometimes the cover is the deciding factor in a purchase. The same goes for all products: presentation matters. If you’re an online seller, customers can’t view your product in person, so the quality of your merchandise’s photographs matter too. That’s why it’s worth it to hire a professional to do your product photography, because the difference is noticeable. In our tech-centric world, every business (big and small) needs to be well represented on the internet, and high-quality merchandise photos can catch people’s attention in the kaleidoscope of advertising that is contemporary media. If you’re an online seller, high quality online advertising is the best way to enhance your brand.

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Hiring a local photographer for your product photography is an investment

Customers are more likely to be interested in a product if it has a captivating photograph. Clean and captivating photos can also help your product stand out amongst similar ones. If given the choice between two products of equal price and quality, customers will almost always choose the one that looks better. So think of hiring a professional as an investment in the future success of your brand.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY 

Whether you’re doing environmental product photography or against a white background, it’s important that your pictures be clear and consistent. I personally love when a client, like Camelia Beans below, wants to do some environmental lifestyle photography using New Orlenas as a location. There are so many places to shoot!

If some of your photos are taken in different settings or with different lighting than others, your customers will notice, and it will make you seem less organized. Consistency across your brand creates a sense of unity, and can help reassure customers that you are professional and trustworthy. A professional photographer will be able to recreate the same studio lighting and backdrop for you. That being said, where you’re taking your photos is important too… 

CONSIDER YOUR SETTING

If you’ve been doing your own product photography, then you’ve had to find your own backgrounds. At best, you’ve been using a plain white tablecloth, and at worst you’ve been photographing your merchandise on your coffee table with your living room in the background. Neither of these are gonna cut it. I’m sure your tablecloth is beautiful, but it might be wrinkled, speckled with dust, or frayed in some places, and your products deserve better than that. Professional photographers have several neutral or dynamic backgrounds to chose from that will best enhance your merchandise. White backgrounds are very popular as they don’t distract and instead draw attention towards the product, but if you have a specific vision you want to realize, your photographer can help you do that too. 

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Are you trying to photograph your own e-commerce photography?

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If right now you’re thinking “I’ve been photographing my own ecommerce products for years, and I think I’ve gotten pretty skilled at it,” let me ask you something: Is your camera of the same quality professional photographers use? If not, you need to change that. Your photos may look great at first, but how does the quality hold up when people zoom in? Can they get a detailed look at the material your products are made of? You want people to be able to get up close and personal with the photos, just like they could if viewing the product in real life, and they can’t do that if your camera isn’t of professional-quality.


I’ve heard enough, I want to talk with Zack about my New Orleans product photography shoot!

Name *
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THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS

And this isn’t just about camera equipment, many products need unique displays to look their best. Clothing and accessories can be modeled on people, and while it can be helpful to show your product being worn, that shouldn’t be your primary display. Photographing with live models adds another layer of variables to be considered in shooting and editing, so it’s more work to make both the product and the model look their best and harder to achieve the aforementioned consistency. Sure, there are plenty of guides out there for making DIY jewelry displays, but it will be obvious that you did it yourself. Not to mention that jewelry is extremely hard to photograph well due to its reflective nature and small details. The best way to photograph jewelry is with a professional quality lens to show the color and details as clearly as possible and with well crafted studio lighting. Flash photography should try to be avoided as it will cause the foremost pieces of the jewelry to reflect back at the camera with white spots, and the rest of the piece will be severely under-lit. Natural lighting can work well, but it’s unpredictable, and it can sometimes be days before you get the right weather and lighting (especially here in Louisiana). Professional studio lighting is the only way to give your merchandise consistent, quality lighting every time.   

WHY PROFESSIONAL EDITING SKILLS ARE NECESSARY

The best way to enhance your brand is to find a photographer who understands that different products need unique and different lighting to make them appeal to potential buyers and can find the right fit for your needs. Product photography editing can be crucial, but is difficult to do correctly, so getting a photographer who is both skilled in editing and in requiring few edits is key. If your products are made of shiny metal or polished glass then finding a professional is even more important to handle the challenge of getting quality photos of reflective products. Even non-reflective products can be hard to capture well. Sometimes colors come out looking more neon than they should, or the details of a black-on-black product don’t show up at first, but these can be fixed with the editing software professionals will have access to. 

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FINDING A PHOTOGRAPHER 

If you don’t already know of professional photographers in your area, get on google and start searching! Even if you do know of some, visiting the websites of local photographers can help you choose the best one for your brand. Many photographers will have some galleries of their work on their website, and browsing through these will give you a better idea of whether or not their style fits your vision. If you want to see more of their work, just ask! Send the photographer the specs about your brand, and tell them if you have a specific vision for your merchandise or if you are in need of some professional guidance. 

Wether you’re just starting out on etsy, or you have your own store and are a seller on amazon, improved product photography will give your brand the boost it needs to get to the next level. Having professionally photographed products adds a sense of authority to your business and can give you an edge over your competitors. Even if you’re not on a popular ecommerce site and have your own website for a niche market, better photos means customers will make more confident purchases and are more likely to be happy with the product when they see it in person. Satisfied customers means better reviews and the cycle begins with new customers (and more returning customers too)! 


If you’re ready to boost your brand, or just want more information about it, email me now with the form below!

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New Orleans product photography review!…

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My whirlwind summer day photographing New Orleans boxers: A Gallery and Tutorial by Zack Smith Photography

Kelvin Brown, Leigh Cordisco, and Delvin “Lump” McKinley photographed at Director Boxing in New Orleans, LA. ©Zack Smith Photography

Kelvin Brown, Leigh Cordisco, and Delvin “Lump” McKinley photographed at Director Boxing in New Orleans, LA. ©Zack Smith Photography

I recently had the opportunity to photograph some promotional portraits and action photography for local boxing promotion company, Swarm Enterprises (https://swarmenterprises.com/), in anticipation of their upcoming bout in New Orleans on September 6th at The Sugar Mill.

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I had always wanted to photograph New Orleans boxers and have photographed a few Friday Night Fights events on Freret years ago. I enjoyed photographing live action boxing, but I never had the chance to craft the boxer’s story using my own strobes, color choices, and creative vision.

CHECK OUT THE BTS AND FINALS IN THIS VIDEO!!!

Bringing my A-game was not an option. It’s required

The folks at SWARM were gracious enough to let me drive the creative ship with some amazing input from them on site. I had never been to Director Boxing on Jackson Street in New Orleans, so I had to be ready for any type of weird artificial lighting that was hanging from this old uptown warehouse.

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Do you have a creative brand driven project you need photography for in New Orleans or Gulf Coast? As a New Orleans photographer and storyteller I would love the opportunity to work with you like I did for Swarm Enterprises. All it takes is an email…

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What strobes and modifiers do you bring to a boxing portrait photoshoot?

In this case I had to bring most of my trusted lights and light modifiers since I didn’t know what to expect. I brought with me my usual Paul C. Buff lighting gear: three Einstein 640w strobes, two large softboxes, one strip softbox, 3 silver 7” reflectors with my grid set which contained a 10º, 20º, 30º and 40º grid. I knew that when shooting boxers, I would most likely be taking photos of athletic young people who took care of themselves and were in peak form.


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Using a smaller more direct light could give me good definition on various muscle groups. (Abs baby abs!!!). I also brought with me my color gel pack as I might want to highlight certain colors and tones that identified with the brands yellow and black colors.

With two small reflectors, as in this shot, I could use it as harsh rim light on the right side of the boxers head and put a yellow gel on the other one and place it behind her aimed at the wall. One large softbox was placed to my right at about 9’ aiming at 45º down at her face.

Creating contours with color and tonal contrasts are surefire ways to give your images dimension and a perceived depth.

This particular image was shot at:

ISO160, f1.8, 1/200, 50mm f1.2


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In this particular image my goal was to create a little bit of action because what good is a boxing portrait session without throwing some punches…and seeing it! I had to turn all of the gym’s lights off so that I could use my shutter speed to slow down the action without soaking in an recording all that ambient light. I used the modeling light of my two side gel reflectors (one yellow, one purple) to provide the necessary ambient light to focus. ISO160, f2.5, 1/13, 35mm 1.4

Please enjoy these images and share! Don’t forget to check out the fight on September 6th in New Orleans!

Delvin “Lump” McKinley with Martin “Marty” Marino of Director Boxing in New Orleans, LA. ©Zack Smith Photography

Delvin “Lump” McKinley with Martin “Marty” Marino of Director Boxing in New Orleans, LA. ©Zack Smith Photography

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How To Shake A Piano Man's Hand - My Dr. John Remembrances by Zack Smith Photography

Dr. John performs at the 2009 Jazz and Heritage Festival. ©Zack Smith Photography

Dr. John performs at the 2009 Jazz and Heritage Festival. ©Zack Smith Photography

Remembrances of someone you didn’t know on a personal level are just what it says - it’s what you remember. For me, remembering Dr. John has alot to do with my moments with him talking, observing, and photographing him. Each time I had a moment with Dr. John I came away learning something about him, New Orleans, and even about myself. Dr. John’s music, persona, and everlasting mark on our notion of “what is New Orleans” will always be his very own. Never one to take credit for even his name - Dr. John always reminded you that New Orleans music was “latin tinged” and that we were “northern Cuba, Caribbean, and Dominican Republic”.

When anyone stepped up to the microphone of New Orleans to sing and say what they may, it always had the faint whiff of bamboula, tobacco, and rum on it’s tip. Dr. John reminded us of that.

I had photographed Dr. John a few times before I personally met him, having received a call to photograph an original Zulu tribal mud mask for his 2010 album, “Tribal”. I arrived at his house, a little star struck-ness building on the ride over, and gregariously reached out my hand to shake it. Maybe I shoot too hard, my dad taught me right, but the good Dr. recoiled to me and said “hey man, why so hard, just light-like” (or something along those lines) and just put his hand in the air and twiddled his fingers.

Final album artwork for “Tribal”. Never have I sense handled something so softly…

Final album artwork for “Tribal”. Never have I sense handled something so softly…

After Dr. John and I spoke a bit about the mask and it’s stark significance, he gave it to me to photograph outside. By myself. Dr. John’s Zulu mask. In the days before I recorded EVERYTHING, I was only left w/ that moment alone, with this relic of spiritual heaviness and musical importance. Alone. I look back and wish I would have taken a photo with Mac, or with the mask to help tell this story, but words will have to do. I learned about listening and watching others more, seeing how they want to be received, and not how I receive them…strong hand outstretched eager to pull in a diagnose. It’s about empathy, listening, and after holding that mask for an hour - trust.

Cyril, Mac, Irma, and Walter. ©2011 Zack Smith Photography backstage at Voodoo Fest 2011.

Cyril, Mac, Irma, and Walter. ©2011 Zack Smith Photography backstage at Voodoo Fest 2011.

It wouldn’t be too much longer after that album shoot that I got to meet Dr. John. In 2011 at my backstage portrait booth at Voodoo Fest I was hurriedly rushed over by my friend Adam Shipley saying “you want THE picture?” Trusting him and not knowing what I was about to get into, I ran with him armed only with my Hasselblad and a 50mm lens. We get to where we’re going and I see the Mount Rushmore of New Orleans music: Cyril Neville, Irma Thomas, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, and Dr. John. I had photographed everyone before and went over to say hello’s, but when I got to Mac, I remembered….raising my hand to greet him I put my palm up and started twiddling my fingers…he laughed, did the same thing to my hands and said “all right man, good to see you”. Made. My. Day.

New Orleans Headshot story of the month: Reve Realtors by Zack Smith Photography

Professional Business Headshots in New Orleans the way YOU want them done.

Reve Realtors is a force to be reckoned with in the New Orleans realtor market. I have enjoyed working with Reve and Clint LaCour to produce professional headshots for their entire staff in New Orleans. Through meetings early on, we established a location and lighting theme for their realtor headshots as they would show online and in social media.

Want a New Orleans photographer that understands your brand?

So many businesses in New Orleans have a clear idea of how they want their brand represented, and I am happy to work with them to create their headshots in the way they want. Sometimes a phone call or meeting is required to talk about your brand identity, lighting style, and overall approach to your companies business headshots and lifestyle branding.



Jazz Fest Best Photo Gallery : My favorite photographs from the 50th Anniversary by Zack Smith Photography

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Photographing the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is one of the important markers in life and during the year for me. Some people use New Year’s Eve, their birthdays, even Katrina. (not your ex…) as important markers. I like to use Jazz Fest. Each year photographing Jazz Fest I like to reflect on how I approach the “story” of an event or moment I am documenting. I like to ask myself , “am I seeing the truth of the moment or am I projecting a reality” when photographing such a rich culture. I have to be honest with myself, I approach Jazz Fest now as a visual content marketer for the festival and a humble observer simultaneously. Sure, I’ll ask people to pose for me but I will also make sure they are continually in their element to let their spirit shine.

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This year I was seeing things from a setback perspective. My compositions were starting to include more of the environment and less full frame close up shots as I have done before. I feel this approach was giving me the sense of place of a festival goer, but I was also able to use my Paul C. Buff studio strobes (with the amazing assist of Tamara Grayson) to “blow up the shadows” as I like to say. This year I photographed more artists in their booths and second lines versus live music and musicians. As always if I didn’t credit someone properly PLEASE let me know!

Askia Bennett - Ole and Nu Style Fellas SAPC

Askia Bennett - Ole and Nu Style Fellas SAPC

Some of my highlights were the powerful and graceful Spencer Bohren’s solo set at the AARP tent, Denzel Abrams, and portraits of friends and artists. I hope you enjoy my visual version of the 50th Anniversary of Jazz Fest where you won’t see alot of live music but you will see some live moments lit in a new and refreshing way. As always - Be in the Moment, Not the Moment…and SHOOT FOR THE WALL!

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Artist Mitchell Gaudet.

Artist Mitchell Gaudet.

New Wave Brass Band

New Wave Brass Band

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Roots of Music

Roots of Music

Spencer Bohren solo set at the AARP tent. My highlight.

Spencer Bohren solo set at the AARP tent. My highlight.

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Ninth Ward Mike

Ninth Ward Mike

Dancin Man 504

Dancin Man 504

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The ICE team!!!

The ICE team!!!

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@quency_quency

@quency_quency

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AJ the BOUDIN MAN

AJ the BOUDIN MAN

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Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club

Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club

Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club

Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club

Quite possibly the first female gay wedding at Jazz Fest…was so cool.

Quite possibly the first female gay wedding at Jazz Fest…was so cool.

Andre Michot, Lost Bayou Ramblers

Andre Michot, Lost Bayou Ramblers

Matt Rhody

Matt Rhody

2019 Jazz Fest Poster artist, Scott Guion

2019 Jazz Fest Poster artist, Scott Guion

Artist, Pilar McCracken

Artist, Pilar McCracken

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Artist MItchell Long

Artist MItchell Long

Lucius Thomson, hawking peanuts for 37 years at Jazz Fest!

Lucius Thomson, hawking peanuts for 37 years at Jazz Fest!

Original CTC Steppers

Original CTC Steppers

Askia Bennett- Ole and Nu Style Fellas SAPC

Askia Bennett- Ole and Nu Style Fellas SAPC

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave.

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave.

Magazine Street Headshots and Portraits at Zack Smith Photography Studio! by Zack Smith Photography

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Saturday, May 11th from 5p-9p come to my New Orleans photography studio at 4514 Magazine Street for your FREE fast, furious, fantastic headshot while you sip on complimentary champagne. It's the Magazine Street Champagne Stroll and you'll want to be where the bottles, lights, and popcorn is POPPIN'. (seriously I am buying a damn popcorn machine right now...). Since 2001, I have made the streets, sidewalks, and neighborhoods of New Orleans into impromptu and creative portrait shoots, and this will be my most creative yet! I will have multiple backgrounds, lighting schemes, and many many new ways to MAKE YOU SAY CHEESE. ok? Don't believe me? GO HERE...

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 50th Anniversary Museum Exhibit! by Zack Smith Photography

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I am honored to have seven photographs in this unique museum exhibit celebrating “50 years of New Orleans Music and Culture” as Jazz Fest turns 50. Starting in the early 2000’s I enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Relix Magazine and most notably Jambase.com, as they provided a wide outlet to showcase my early editorial photography. My New Orleans photography was able to be featured in both magazines as I was getting my start in the city documenting just about everything. I covered Jazz Fest for Jambase.com from around 2004-2008, and soon after was offered a staff photography position by Jazz Fest in 2009. From 2009-2016 I photographed Jazz Fest with a creative reckless abandon both night and day, going through rolls of film and digital cameras day in day out. As a New Orleans photographer I made precious contacts and kindled long term relationships with so many wonderful people and culture bearers that I keep to this date.

Here’s the press release from Relix.com

This year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will mark the 50th annual iteration of the legendary gathering, and Relix is heading down to Crescent City for a celebration of all things Jazz Fest. Our “50 Years of New Orleans Music & Culture” exhibit at The New Orleans Jazz Museum will feature art and photography from an array of NOLA staples and will host a series of special conversations and events featuring some of our favorite New Orleans-based musicians.

The exhibit will open on April 26, the first Friday of Jazz Fest, and remain at the museum throughout May. The afternoon conversations will kick off on Monday, April 29, with a chat on New Orleans history and music with Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s Ben Jaffe, who also serves as the Creative Director for the band’s namesake building, and writer Walter Isaacson, professor of history at Tulane University and former Chairman/CEO of CNN and Managing Editor of Time Magazine. The following day will feature a presentation from renowned keyboardist/singer-songwriter and longtime New Orleans transplant Jon Cleary, who will offer a musical trip through the history of piano in New Orleans. The series will then wrap up on May 1 with a conversation between two funk icons, Galactic drummer Stanton Moore and legendary Meters bassist George Porter Jr. Relix editors Dean Budnick and Mike Greenhaus will serve as moderators at the events.

Included in the Jazz Museum exhibit will be art and photography from the likes of Michael P. Smith, Sydney Byrd, Danny Clinch, Frenchy, Eric Waters, Clayton Call, Jay Blakesberg, Zack Smith, Scott Saltzman, Dino Perrucci, Marc Millman and Michael Weintrob, along with memorabilia from past Jazz Fests, including a chronological presentation of every official poster from the festival’s five decades.

Relix will also be hosting nighttime events at the museum during Jazz Fest featuring live interviews and panels with iconic members of the New Orleans music and Jazz Fest scene—followed by intimate performances—along with local chefs and mixologists helping to highlight the legendary food and drink culture of the Big Easy.

Read more:https://relix.com/news/detail/announcing-relix-celebrates-50-years-of-new-orleans-music-culture-at-jazz-fest-2019/#ixzz5lvcnYg3U

Best of Fest - 10th Annual French Quarter Fest 2019 Photo Gallery by Zack Smith Photography

This year marked my 10th year photographing French Quarter Festival for the amazing team at French Quarter Fest Inc. Ten years really does go by fast when you have fun doing your job. I am constantly humbled and honored to be able to be put into the best role to document this one of a kind festival. Being able to be trusted to tell the story of a music festival that is solely centered on Louisiana music is a privilege I cannot understate. Each year that goes by I get better and more efficient at seeing the magic before it happens and being in the right spot for it. After all these years I know the times, locations, and light patterns of the French Quarter in the 2nd week of April like no one else does…and that feels good to have the camera ready!

For years I have enjoyed bringing you this gallery of my BEST OF FEST - so enjoy and spread the link if you like what you see! These images are for your enjoyment only - feel free to share THIS LINK to share the joy. If you see yourself in any of these images let me know, and I’ll send you a copy! No images may be used to promote any 3rd party services or businesses.

** BIG UPS to Stephen MacDonald for carrying a Paul C Buff Einstein, beauty dish, and battery for 2 days straight! I couldn’t light up those shadows without ya!

The Kinfolk Brass Band led the opening day Second Line to start the 36th Annual French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

The Kinfolk Brass Band led the opening day Second Line to start the 36th Annual French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

I love shooting the opening day second line. Each year at least 4 brass bands pepper the streets of the French Quarter blowing loud and proud. This year the talented Kinfolk Brass Band led the charge down Bourbon Street, straight to the heart of Jackson Square. Each year I challenge myself to get a new angle, a new look, or a new story in the often over shot French Quarter. As a New Orleans photographer who has shot brass bands and the French Quarter so many times, the goal here is to keep challenging myself to find ways to showcase the moment for my client, but also find a new layer of light, color, and expression of joy in the same frame.

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The low rising sun can be troublesome shooting down the blocks of Bourbon Street. Though it’s nice to find it bouncing off fresh polished cymbals and horns. ©Zack Smith Photography

The low rising sun can be troublesome shooting down the blocks of Bourbon Street. Though it’s nice to find it bouncing off fresh polished cymbals and horns. ©Zack Smith Photography

Tips on shooting outdoors in alternating light conditions

As I am making this post I thought I would throw in a little “how to photograph light” section. Bare with me photo lovers, this is for the learners…Each block during this second line presents it’s individual challenges. When the parade starts at 10am-ish, the sun is just high enough above the horizon to shine light down each cross street of Bourbon, all the way until the parade turns at St. Peter (or sometimes St. Ann, depending on which police officer you ask that day). At the “turn street” you get some of the most magical shots since the light on the band is warm and golden while the background houses and blue sky are lit up perfectly by the sun. Your challenge until then is to go back and forth on exposures to prioritize your subject. Once you get the hang of it you can actually sink back into photographing and not thinking too much!

Light beaming through the streets of New Orleans has it’s challenges, and then again has it’s rewards. ©Zack Smith Photography

Light beaming through the streets of New Orleans has it’s challenges, and then again has it’s rewards. ©Zack Smith Photography

A New orleans photographer in his wheelhouse

My tenth year shooting French Quarter Fest was not really known to me until I started doing this blog post. But as I walked around this year there was a heightened sense of nostalgia mixed with purpose. I was set on getting to certain stages and areas when the light was perfect while hitting my marks and clearing my shot lists. I made sure that I was at Dwayne Dopsie’s set towards the end as I knew he’d go out into the crowd. I showed up late to Bruce Daigrepont, but I was able to lineup a sweet backstage portrait. This year I made the most of every opportunity wether I showed up early or late to a set, I was there in the moment and that’s all that counted. Catching a soundcheck can be just as glorious as the set itself…

Preservation Hall Brass open Day One at the French Quarter Fest Hilton stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

Preservation Hall Brass open Day One at the French Quarter Fest Hilton stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

Glenn Hall Jr and Lil Glenn and Backatown opened up the Tropical Isle stage on Thursday. This was also my 10th year photographing this talented soul!

Glenn Hall Jr and Lil Glenn and Backatown opened up the Tropical Isle stage on Thursday. This was also my 10th year photographing this talented soul!

Washboard Chaz and The Tin Men setup to play at the GE Capital Stage on Day One. ©Zack Smith Photography

Washboard Chaz and The Tin Men setup to play at the GE Capital Stage on Day One. ©Zack Smith Photography

One of my favorite compositions: Band + Crowd + Riverboat + Blue Sky. Tin Men open up the day at the GE Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

One of my favorite compositions: Band + Crowd + Riverboat + Blue Sky. Tin Men open up the day at the GE Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

Artist and Designer Ashley Porter poses inside her Mirror House at French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

Artist and Designer Ashley Porter poses inside her Mirror House at French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

Cha Wa perform at the Abita Stage at French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

Cha Wa perform at the Abita Stage at French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

Photographing Friends, photographing new orleans

If you live here long enough and document the music culture of New Orleans, you make some friends along the way. Photography becomes personal and almost takes on the feeling of a “family photo” as you document the same creative souls year-in year-out. You watch their evolution and joy through the center of your lens like a movie unfolding in front of your eyes. Your only hope is to do them equal visual justice to the sounds they’ve given you over the years.

Cajun musician Bruce Daigrepont poses backstage for a quick portrait. ©Zack Smith Photography

Cajun musician Bruce Daigrepont poses backstage for a quick portrait. ©Zack Smith Photography

Jon Cleary plays to a packed French Quarter as he closes out Day One at the Chevron Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

Jon Cleary plays to a packed French Quarter as he closes out Day One at the Chevron Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

Galactic closes out the Abita Stage during their first appearance at French Quarter Fest! ©Zack Smith Photography

Galactic closes out the Abita Stage during their first appearance at French Quarter Fest! ©Zack Smith Photography

French Quarter Fest Day One was a wrap! Here’s a few more pics!

day two of French Quarter fest: longer days means more moments

Day one of shooting any music festival is what I call “getting my festival legs”: my goal is to find ways to stay on target with my shot list while being creative, walking fast and effective, as well as staying hydrated. Here are some of my favorites from Day 2 - festival legs and all.

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Torrence Taylor dances at Joe Lasties’ set, giving bow to a beautiful soul and crushing drummer! ©Zack Smith Photography

Torrence Taylor dances at Joe Lasties’ set, giving bow to a beautiful soul and crushing drummer! ©Zack Smith Photography

Drummer Joe Lastie is all smiles, as he usually is! If you don’t know Joe - GO SEE JOE! ©Zack Smith Photography

Drummer Joe Lastie is all smiles, as he usually is! If you don’t know Joe - GO SEE JOE! ©Zack Smith Photography

Chance Bushman of the NOLA Jitterbugs gives his daily swing dance lessons as he does so effortlessly! ©Zack Smith Photography

Chance Bushman of the NOLA Jitterbugs gives his daily swing dance lessons as he does so effortlessly! ©Zack Smith Photography

Audacity Brass Band tore it up at the new LA Fish Fry Stage at the U.S. Mint. ©Zack Smith Photography

Audacity Brass Band tore it up at the new LA Fish Fry Stage at the U.S. Mint. ©Zack Smith Photography

So many moments, so many faces! Seen here in the gallery below are: Haruka Kikuchi, Wendell Brunious, Roger Lewis and Percy Ellis, Delfeayo Marsalis and Brice Miller, drummer Paul Thibodeaux, Gal Holiday, Brice Miller and Brice Miller Jr., Jeffrey Broussard.

Quiana Lynell performs at the Hilton Stage, and cracks her own band up in the process! Such a powerful new voice in jazz! ©Zack Smith Photography

Quiana Lynell performs at the Hilton Stage, and cracks her own band up in the process! Such a powerful new voice in jazz! ©Zack Smith Photography

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Sunpie Barnes closes out the Chevron Stage. You can ask him too…it was definitely feeling a bit like summer that day. ©Zack Smith Photography

Sunpie Barnes closes out the Chevron Stage. You can ask him too…it was definitely feeling a bit like summer that day. ©Zack Smith Photography

grammy winners Lost Bayou ramblers close out in blue hour…

day three of French quarter fest: let the crowds get cozy…

Saturday of festival usually means that everyone is off of work, kids are out of school, and the French Quarter is the city’s second home. The lawn chair and blankets create a landscape that cover the festival grounds like a patchwork maze while the kids play tag and weave in and out of food and drink lines. For a photographer trying to cover alot of ground, you have to make use of your time photographing the moments when you get it. Alot of your day is spent walking, dodging, and just plain “cutting through” the crowds.

Trumpeter and bandleader Desmond Venable lead students and fire up the crowd. ©Zack Smith Photography

Trumpeter and bandleader Desmond Venable lead students and fire up the crowd. ©Zack Smith Photography

Will Smith serenades with the Storyville Stompers Brass Band. ©Zack Smith Photography

Will Smith serenades with the Storyville Stompers Brass Band. ©Zack Smith Photography

Chance Bushman and the Ibervillianaires had the swing dancers swinging early at the Traditional Jazz Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

Chance Bushman and the Ibervillianaires had the swing dancers swinging early at the Traditional Jazz Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

Bryan, Louis, and Kirkland are seen lugging their gear to the Michot Melody Makers set. Hard workers. (Period) ©Zack Smith Photography

Bryan, Louis, and Kirkland are seen lugging their gear to the Michot Melody Makers set. Hard workers. (Period) ©Zack Smith Photography

Festival Moments from an action packed Saturday

Cyril Neville, Dwayne Dopsie, Mia Borders, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, “Bangkok Swing” dancers, Paul Lafleur

Dwayne Dopsie and Paul Lafleur get low into the crowd for one of the greatest send off’s ever on Saturday. ©Zack Smith Photography

Dwayne Dopsie and Paul Lafleur get low into the crowd for one of the greatest send off’s ever on Saturday. ©Zack Smith Photography

Flow Tribe close out Saturday night’s festival at the Chevron Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

Flow Tribe close out Saturday night’s festival at the Chevron Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

Day four french quarter Fest: The big finish of festival

Sunday is sometimes just another day. But for me, the last day of a festival is your last chance to tell the story by any means necessary. You walk from the Aquarium to the U.S. Mint and back all day if you have to. Just get get the shot, and finish big.

Maggie Koerner performs at French Quarter Fest amongst a sea of fans and the Mississippi River. ©Zack Smith Photography

Maggie Koerner performs at French Quarter Fest amongst a sea of fans and the Mississippi River. ©Zack Smith Photography

Drummer Simon Lott performs with Jesse Morrow on Royal Street in one my favorite music moments of my 10 years shooting French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography (below: Brad Walker and Jesse Morrow)

Drummer Simon Lott performs with Jesse Morrow on Royal Street in one my favorite music moments of my 10 years shooting French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography (below: Brad Walker and Jesse Morrow)

Brice Miller brings joy and funk to his set at French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

Brice Miller brings joy and funk to his set at French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

Anthony and Rockin’ Dopsie always make people dance and get up! Great seeing these consummate performers! ©Zack Smith Photography

that’s a wrap! looking back at four days of hustle and creativity.

Being in the right time in the right place sometimes takes, well, ten years and sometimes more. Pictured above is Debbie Davis, the Daquiriu Queens, Maggie Koerner and Jason Jurzak in their zone, in the place that they shine. Oh, and the Lucky Dog shot? I don’t know, it’s just so….New Orleans right? There were shots that I anticipated this year, and some shots I downright just missed. What often helps me get over that is just enjoying the moment where I’m at and making the most of what is in front of me, cause you are always missing something amazing! I hope you enjoyed this gallery! Please share and credit the culture!

Rockin Dopsie mid air in a full split? One of my “bucket list” shots…done. What a performer and all around great dude. ©Zack Smith Photography

Rockin Dopsie mid air in a full split? One of my “bucket list” shots…done. What a performer and all around great dude. ©Zack Smith Photography

Tired photographer post-fest with gear. Photo by Matt Owens.

Tired photographer post-fest with gear. Photo by Matt Owens.

Helpful Tips for Shooting In Low Light Without a Tripod by Zack Smith Photography

Best practices of how to photograph in low light without a tripod

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As a professional photographer and even a hobbyist, you’ll often need to take photos in extreme low light conditions. And as if that were not enough; sometimes you even have to shoot without a tripod. I have always said that my favorite time of year is right around daylight savings time when the fog creeps up from the Mississippi River and low swamp lands. I love March, especially since we can get more chances to shoot the city in this wonderful golden hour photography since the sun doesn’t set at 5pm anymore!

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Want to know how I got these Firework shots? Take my class…go HERE to learn How to Photograph Fireworks in New Orleans!

As you find yourself shooting outside more and more, you might find yourself leaving the house without some important photography tools! Maybe you’re in the middle of a the French Quarter with no space for a tripod or in a location where tripods are not allowed. Or perhaps, you don’t want to let your tripod draw unwanted attention when photographing musicians or street documentary.

In any case, low light photography without a tripod is challenging but definitely not impossible. After years of shooting without one (I STILL DON’T LIKE TO!) Here are the best practices of low light photography without a tripod.

What is ISO and how to use it in low light

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ISO is an important tool in every photographer’s arsenal, but you need to know when to leverage it. In low light conditions, for instance, you can increase your camera's ISO to make the camera’s sensor more sensitive to light. That way, your camera will need less light to make a good exposure. You will also be able to hand hold at faster shutter speeds, thus decreasing the risk of shake from hand holding the camera.

One downside to this trick is that raising the ISO too high could affect the sharpness of your image. The higher the ISO, the more “noise” will affect your image.  That means you should have a fair idea of the maximum acceptable ISO value for your camera in low light conditions. This needs some practice, and some research. I would recommend photographing different low light scenes at all of your ISO’s up to the expanded numbers as well just to see what effect they have. Don’t just look at the back of your camera! You should download the test images to your computer and view there!

In my last 15 years teaching photography I have seen so many cameras, and it’s a good idea to start at ISO 800. Most cameras will capture good photos at ISO 800 in low light conditions, but if you raise your ISO beyond 800 or 1600, the image could start to get noisy. So know your camera’s acceptable limit and adjust the ISO setting accordingly.

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How to use aperture settings in low light

Who doesn’t love that blurry bokeh? Using a wider aperture means you’re letting in more light to your lens, which is ideal for low light photography. To that end, consider using a fast lens. The faster the lens, the larger is its maximum aperture.

For instance, invest in a prime lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.8 or f/0.95. If you’d use a 300mm lens, then look for one with a maximum aperture of f/2.8.

Also, a faster lens allows you to use faster shutter speeds in low light conditions, which means you’ll have more leeway to shoot without a tripod.

But when you’re shooting at f/1.8 or f/2.8, remember that you’ll have a narrow depth of field. Make sure you’re focusing on the most important part of your frame rather than trying to keep everything in focus.

How to use a speedlight as fill flash

Imagine your scene has some ambient light, but not enough to properly illuminate your subject. So the background is fairly bright, but your subject is shaded. In situations like this, you can use a speedlight as your fill light to fill in the dark shadows on your subject.

But balancing the flash light with the ambient light could be a challenge (more on this later). A strong front flash could overpower the background ambient light, making your subject look flat and overly bright against a dark background.

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But you don’t want to kill the natural look in your photo. You just want to add some fill light to your subject in the foreground. Here are some ways you can soften your fill flash.

  • Bounce your flashlight against the ceiling or wall, rather than aiming it directly towards the subject. You can also use a reflective card for the purpose.

  • Use a diffuser on your Speedlight to reduce the harshness of your flashlight   

  • Switch from TTL to manual flash mode to gain more control over the intensity of your flashlight.  

  • Dial down the flash exposure compensation to -0.8 or lower.

When to “drag the shutter” and how to use it!

When using fill flash in low light conditions (like in the above example), dragging the shutter has two benefits.  

  1. It helps balance the flash light with the ambient light.

  2. It allows you to create a motion effect in your photos.

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The shutter drag technique is based on a simple fact that when you change your camera’s shutter speed, it makes an impact on your ambient exposure but doesn’t affect your flash exposure. That’s because the flash operates much faster than your camera’s shutter.  

In other words, you can control your flash and ambient lights separately in the same shot. For instance, if you drag the shutter from 1/60th to 1/30th, you’ll get a brighter background, but the flash exposure on your subject in the foreground will remain the same.

This helps you balance flash light with ambient light, simply by adjusting your shutter speed. Ideally, you should first set exposure for the ambient light, and then add some flash fill and adjust your settings accordingly – rather than the other way around. This takes practice…so get out there!

Dragging the shutter often introduces a motion blur at the edges of your subject when you are working with a shutter speed of 1/10th of a second or slower. You can use this technique intentionally to create a sense of movement in your photos. When marching or walking the same speed as your subject (like the Tulane Green Wave Band during Mardi Gras) you can use your movements to create motion but you have to make sure you are going the SAME SPEED as your subject!

Like these tips? Help me spread the word and pass them on! Share this page and stay in touch!








Mardi Gras 2019 through the eyes of a child, the City is anew... by Zack Smith Photography

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Being able to enjoy New Orleans and Mardi Gras through the eyes of my daughter has been an amazing and humbling experience. With an unbounded curiosity, fearless joy, and child-like surprise - I am able to enjoy a celebration I once felt I was done with. I thought I was done and had experienced it all: the long late nights turned morning, Mardi Gras Indians in backstreets of the city, pre-dawn Skull and Bones, and the revelry and abandonment of cares and responsibility. As that chapter closed in my life, a new one has begun, and the wonder was back just like that.

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We caught the beginning of the Krewes of Saint Anne and Saint Cecelia and a truly magical moment when heading home.

Mardi Gras has become to mean so many different things to me over the years, but this year a very special moment happened that I was so happy to have my camera for. .

As Big Chief Alphonse “Dowee” Robair and the 9th Ward Black Hatchett Hunters pose for a big group shot over the 9th Ward canal, I could see my friend and legendary photographer Eric Waters directing through the colors and mayhem. People were shouting, car horn’s were honking, boats were waiting to get through as the Indians made time to sit still for an epic photo be made.

I hope you enjoy these photos of our adventure through the Bywater with the Krewe of Saint Anne and St. Cecelia, and our wonderful meeting with the Big Chief!

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Carlo Nuccio, Doug Garrison, and Anthony Cuccia - the greatest drumline of any parade!

Carlo Nuccio, Doug Garrison, and Anthony Cuccia - the greatest drumline of any parade!

Jan Beignet Ramsey…oh boy!

Jan Beignet Ramsey…oh boy!

Big Chief Alphonse “Dowee” Robair and the 9th Ward Hatchett Indians, formerly of CTC post at the 9th Ward Industrial Canal bridge.

Big Chief Alphonse “Dowee” Robair and the 9th Ward Hatchett Indians, formerly of CTC post at the 9th Ward Industrial Canal bridge.

9th Ward Hatchett Indians,

Medical Residency headshots made easy in the Big Easy by Zack Smith Photography

My New Orleans Medical Residency Headshot Workflow

Having a professional headshot when working in the medical residency industry or applying for a program is vital to being chosen and accepted. At Zack Smith Photography, I get many requests for Medical Residency and Residency Application headshots and I love using the folks at Fix The Photo FixThePhoto to aid me in my editing workflow.

What to edit when working with Medical Residency headshots?

Did you know on average you are 10 times more likely to be chosen if you have a good-looking headshot image? On the example of two professional headshots taken at my studio, I did the color correction editing before I sent them to Fix the Photo for hair fly away and backgrounds. Their main purpose is to offer high-quality and affordable headshot photo editing services to all medical residency candidates to help make their chances of landing their dream residency higher.


I have enjoyed a long-time working relationship with Fixthephoto.com, and their editor's level of expertise is unmatched. My business is located in Uptown New Orleans, Louisiana and there is no shortage of clients that are looking for the perfect headshot to promote their brand and business. I have recently sent a lot of my Medical Residency headshots to Fixthephoto to help with hair flyaways and skin retouching. A well-crafted and professional headshot is the first impression a potential employer sees of these medical students and I need the photos to look their best.

Medical Residency Headshot Photo Editing Tips for Beginners

It's vitally important for you to show confidence, intelligence, and approachability in your headshot. These first impressions about you are being made in 1/10th of a second, so make sure your headshot is of high quality. Usually, your headshot is shown on a large monitor in front of a group of people, so it should be saved in high resolution and without distracting flaws. Having a headshot without professional lighting and a white background can seriously make your photo of low quality.

First of all, a white background or light grey background is always an advantage for placing your headshot on websites or attaching to documents. It allows you to concentrate the attention of viewers completely on you. You should remove all unnecessary objects from the background and yourself. Another useful photo editing step is cropping. The second important step is photo color correction. Tones and hues play a vital role in headshot photo editing and you should adjust the white balance, contrast, and brightness settings to make your headshot look perfect. It also helps remove unnatural skin color and makes white color realistically white. If necessary, you can also do skin retouching: remove blemishes, reddish spots, etc. Frequency separation in Photoshop is the best method to make natural but perfect skin texture.

As you work with a portrait, you should make eyes bright, teeth white, remove flyaway hair/add volume, add digital make-up (be careful with this step), make glasses glare correction or even body/face reshaping. Another important action is to make clothes smooth. This may seem like alot to do and think about, but at Zack Smith Photography studio I

After doing headshot photo editing, don’t forget about the photo format and its specifications. Last but certainly not least, make sure your headshot conforms to the website/document specifications!



New Orleans Business Headshot of the Month: Ryan Rogers by Zack Smith Photography

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Ryan Rogers is a realtor at Reclaimed Realty NOLA, and actually a long time friend. Ryan recently approached me about collaborating and producing some new and unique business headshots for his website and social media. Being that Ryan wanted to show different sides of his personality, we decided to do both photographs at my studio at 4514 Magazine, then head over to do some more “environmental” portraits at the Auction House NOLA in the Warehouse District. Here’s a quote from Ryan that I like, and I hope you look him up when buying a home in New Orleans!

“I take my clients and my profession as a Realtor seriously. It is a very big responsibility guiding first-time buyers through the uncharted waters of their first home purchase or helping real estate investors make difficult decisions and so I never take that responsibility lightly. I’m not an uptight guy, I provide a casual friendly service. I am a facilitator helping buyers and sellers make informed choices while giving them perspective.”

Photographing Mardi Gras in New Orleans with the Krewe of Chewbacchus by Zack Smith Photography

In my 5th year photographing the amazing Chewbacchus parade, I don’t think I have seen this many people in the parade and along the parade route. I can only expect that they broke records in krewe attendance and parade watchers. The streets of the Marigny and especially Frenchmen St. were packed 5 and 6 rows deep with people gawking at the sci-fi themed parade. I slimmed down my gear for this parade and only brought my Canon G7x - and here are a few of my favorite shots.

Travel photography tips from Zack: How to fly with an entire photo studio and not get caught! by Zack Smith Photography

Here I am at the San Juan airport with my entire photo studio, cameras, and clothes!

Here I am at the San Juan airport with my entire photo studio, cameras, and clothes!

Traveling in 2019 can be stressful, even if it’s for a well needed vacation. Traveling with your entire photo studio for work can be down right catastrophic if you don’t prepare and think ahead. I hope my recent international headshot photo shoot can help you learn some tips on how to travel with your photography equipment in a safe and inexpensive way.

How to properly travel with your gear can be tricky, so how do you fly with all that photo gear?

I recently had the pleasure of traveling again to photograph a long time client’s conference. In my third year of this relationship me and my team have photographed their conferences in New Orleans, LA, Austin, Texas, and most recently San Juan, Puerto Rico. Each conference is a 4-5 day conference and event documentary job while shooting multiple days of business headshots that range from 40 – 200 people.

Being able to execute the convention and photography duties in New Orleans was easy since that is where my business is based. I was able to have my studio open and ingesting each days shots to send out daily edits to the company marketing team, as well as being able to load in and setup the conference head shot station with ease.

All of my necessary headshot lighting gear fit nicely in this Pelican 1660 case.

All of my necessary headshot lighting gear fit nicely in this Pelican 1660 case.

Traveling to Austin for the 5 day conference was a bit tougher, but with the proper resources I was able to make it very easy for my photography workflow. I brought with with me only my Paul C. Buff Alien Bees, pocket wizard remotes, and cables. Since Austin is a bustling creative capital city, I rented light stands, sand bags, and a full studio background kit with a grey seamless roll. I rented the gear from a local rental house and they were able to deliver and pickup the gear to the hotel we were shooting at.

If you are traveling for a photoshoot and can expense local gear rental to your client, I would highly suggest that. Considering that local rental rates for limited gear can sometimes be equal to the cost of an oversize and overweight checked gig bag! Either way, you will pay for the gear, so why not reduce the wear and tear on your own gear (and your back!) and rent photography grip gear in the city you are shooting.

Headshots are easy at my studio but knowing how to properly pack for travel is a whole other deal!

Most recently my client brought their conference to the amazing city of San Juan, Puerto Rico. I was very excited at the opportunity to photograph Puerto Rico as I had never been before. Puerto Rico is such a beautiful island and the people are hospitable and kind. I was looking forward to the “day of service” the conference attendees would do in the rural beach community of Yabucoa. Yabucoa is still recovering from Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Hurricane Maria is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record to affect the island and was the deadliest storm of 2017. 

After searching for a few photography rental studios in San Juan and coming up short,, I realized that my options were to rent from a local photographer or bring my own. Trusting my instincts and ready for a challenge I decided to figure out how to travel with my studio lighting kit and be ready for headshots and conference documentary in another country.

How do I know what gear to check and what photography gear to carry on the airline?

It is wise to check with your airline about their size and weight restrictions on checked bags. I was in the clear to pack my entire travel photo studio into a secure hard case Pelican Case. (more on that later)

Here is the studio setup and looking great!

Here is the studio setup and looking great!

 I always carry on my camera bodies, lenses, batteries, memory cards (in a hard case), portable hard drives and laptop. I am currently using and loving my camera bag from ONA with it’s ability to hold 2 Canon Mark IV’s, 70-200 2.8, 16-35mm 2.8, 24-70mm 2.8, my 15” MacBook Air, and other related gar. The bag fits nicely in my overhead or under my feet while flying.

Keep all of your receipts! All of them! Even if it’s oversize it’s good to know what it costs.

Keep all of your receipts! All of them! Even if it’s oversize it’s good to know what it costs.

A few weeks before my trip I went on Amazon.com and bought 3 studio light stands where the legs collapsed up, thus reducing their size to fit exactly in the Pelican Case. I also purchased a foldable light grey backdrop disc and stand that also fit into the Pelican Case with ease. I cut out snug spaces in the foam inserts of the case to fit: 3 Einstein strobes, cables, extra strobe bulbs, transmitters and backup batteries for all. Remember when you arrive at your final destination any oversized cases will be waiting for you at the oversize counter and not the general baggage carousel.

Knowing that my entire studio could fit in one case was awesome! I was ready to fly, but was I protected?

Photographing and travelling domestically is easy right? But when do I get travel insurance and when do I know I am protected? Travel insurance is a must have for most travelers. From cancelled flight reimbursement to general liability insurance you can get what you need to feel protected. Lucky for me I was flying and shooting in a U.S. Territory so my existing health insurance as well as my business insurance package would carry over to any incident incurred while on my shoot in Puerto Rico. Before travelling out of the country for your next photo shoot I suggest contacting your issuing insurance agent to ask them of any coverage you may need.

My backyard vibes for the week…not bad!

My backyard vibes for the week…not bad!

Proper preparation before my international photo shoot was vital in the planning phase of my trip. By visualizing what I needed for my headshots and my day to day shooting, I was able to plan, pack, and travel with a good feeling.

I hope this information on how to pack for your next international photography assignment was helpful and if it was, please share this blog post!

 

GEAR:

Pelican Case

3 - Light Stands

Foldable Background and Stand

3 – Paul C Buff Einstein strobes

Cybersense and remotes

Empty Grip Bags (sandbags)

 

 

 




Photography Storage Workflow Chronicles: Finding the Photo in the Haystack by Zack Smith Photography

I had a client recently want some photos we took that spanned an entire decade. How do I locate photographs I did that aren’t currently connected to my computer? This question and more are answered as we deep dive into HARD DRIVE TRUTHS.

Ok, I am kidding a little but this is a real situation that is happening now and I thought I would make a video to share with you. Enjoy!



How to get the sun to starburst in your photos! by Zack Smith Photography

You’ve seen those amazing landscape photographs of someone you are following on instagram and you can’t get that starburst your of your head. How do you get the sun to starburst and make it look like a star?

Sun starburst techniques are very easy!

To achieve a proper sun star burst photography effect you need to stop down your aperture to at least 16 or lower. Setting your aperture to f22 would be an ideas pace to start. Since the unencumbered (nothing blocking it) bright sun is what you want to affect, you probably have a bright sunny day to work with so shooting at f22 will allow your shutter to be safe to shoot at around 1/320 or 1/125. I know this because I am basing this exposure on the Sunny 16 Rule. Don’t know what the Sunny 16 Rule is? Well head to this quick link to find out!

CLICK to learn the Sunny 16 Rule! ——->

I shot this sun starburst at Crescent Park in New Orleans!

I shot this sun starburst at Crescent Park in New Orleans!

2018 The Year in Pictures - What made this year so memorable? by Zack Smith Photography

2018 was a very special year in photography for me. As my business grew so did the new experiences both up and down. Every photo shoot I did this year was met with a new outlook as I challenged myself to find the good in each moment and learn from each experience. I met countless realtors, lawyers, artists, business owners, families, models, and entrepreneurs. My goal this year was to be able to grow my business and studio on Magazine Street and at the same time, keep my creative impulses satiated and continue to make new artistic collaborations. At the same time my New Orleans photography workshop offerings continued to fill and bring in new curious minds wanting to know how to photograph their world with creative confidence. I am grateful for all those who have helped me keep my businesses going as a photographer, teacher, and consultant. I want to thank all of my family, friends, and assistants for supporting me on long days on the job, out of town, and on the hustle. These photos are for you. Enjoy my favorite people, places, and moments of 2018.

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Storytelling 2018: A year of portraits in New Orleans

Focus on the eyes and you can see the soul…I feel that capturing the best version of someone can’t be done without some background knowledge of who they are, what their dreams are, and what they want to achieve. Any portrait I do involves some homework to produce an image that works for my client and that I feel proud out.


Selling the Brand 2018: A year of Commercial Photography in New Orleans

“Using photography to help a brand sell a product or service”. That's how I like to define commercial and brand photography. I have enjoyed meeting so many driven and inspired business owners while helping them create their visual identity. Here are some of my favorite commercial photo shoots from 2018.


Singing for your Supper 2018: Music and Festival photography

I was truly blessed to be able to be around such amazing music, musicians, and culture bearers in 2018. As my business steered towards headshots and branding, I never lost the focus and connections that got me to where I am today. Being able to photograph Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest and continue to be involved in the creative energy of New Orleans humbles me to the bone.

Year of the New Orleans Headshot 2018: Face is the place!

Since opening my headshot studio at 4514 Magazine Street in New Orleans I haven’t spent this much time uptown since I lived on Jefferson in 2003! I love making the commute to work and meet the movers, shakers, and creators of this city!

These are a few of my favorite things 2018: Behind the Scenes!

As much as the portraits and branding have kept me busy this year, I still have time to photograph the things I love. My family, nature, and those random moments are always in my sight as I try to keep the balance between work and life. Here’s to pursuing YOUR dreams and making what you love be what you do in 2019!