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...
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.
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!
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.
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!
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Festival Moments from an action packed Saturday
Cyril Neville, Dwayne Dopsie, Mia Borders, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, “Bangkok Swing” dancers, Paul Lafleur
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.
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!
Best practices of how to photograph in low light without a tripod
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
It helps balance the flash light with the ambient light.
It allows you to create a motion effect in your photos.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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!
3 - Light Stands
Foldable Background and Stand
3 – Paul C Buff Einstein strobes
Cybersense and remotes
Empty Grip Bags (sandbags)
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!
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!
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.
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!
Want to know how you can take relaxed natural light family holiday portraits this season?
So I know the situation you are in. It’s the holidays, it’s stressful, you are busy, but you have this rare moment when your entire family is not only in the same state…they are all at the same house! I’ll try to make this easy for you wether you are in the bayou, the park, or even your New Orleans uptown backyard - YOU can make a great family portrait with any camera. But let’s at least make it interesting!
Once you practice thinking beyond the cliché, ideas flow. And you can capture great fall family pictures with any camera. Could be even your smartphone or iPhone. Here are some tips for taking awesome family photos this season.
How to use natural light for family photos
The weather changes during fall, so does the sunlight. To make the most of natural light in your fall family photos, consider heading outside with your family during the golden hour, which is the hour after sunrise or the hour before sunset. The soft, warm tones of golden light make any subject look more fascinating.
But even if you’re shooting in the middle of the day, the low winter sun is always nice, just find a shady area to place your subjects. As I always say - you will get the BEST RESULTS by making sure your subject is in the same light as your background. This helps avoid any harsh shadows on them due to the direct sun. You can also shoot on a cloudy day, but don’t forget to set the camera’s white balance right; otherwise it might show a slightly bluish color tone ( you can always readjust in post later, especially if you shoot RAW)
Need some Expert HELP? My 2019 Photography Workshop Calendar is OUT - CLICK HERE
During the autumn season, the sun shines at a low angle and creates long, deep shadows in the afternoon. One good idea would be to include those shadows in your frame in order to capture the essence of the season.
So if we are thinking out of the box, a good idea would be using the bright sunlight as a strong backlight. Place your subjects with the sun behind them and use a reflector to bounce back fill lights onto their face. For the lack of a proper reflector, you can use a large white paper or Polystyrene plate. Or if you don’t have that just go for it and make sure you have the shutter on continuous and high speed!
Best tips for photographing outdoors
If you’re shooting on a sunny day, setting the exposure right could be a challenge. This is where you can use the Sunny 16 rule, which suggests setting the aperture at f/16 and then setting the shutter speed reciprocal to your ISO value.
Check out my very 1st blog post for how to do the Sunny 16 Rule! CLICK HERE
For instance, set your aperture at f/16. Now if ISO is 200, your shutter speed should be 1/200 seconds. If ISO is 100, shutter speed will be 1/100 seconds.
When taking solo shots or close-ups, you should consider using a long lens (100mm or above) to help add a nice bokeh effect to your photos. (like the photo of Millie above) If you’re taking a long shot of your family, however, use a slightly shorter focal length lens (70mm or below). Also, consider including some elements of the nature (such as, leaves or branches of a tree) in the foreground to add depth to your fall family pictures.
Best tips for capturing fall colors in family pictures
First things first, choose the right location for your fall family photos. It could be your local park, a pumpkin patch, a farm house or a countryside trail, but make sure the place has abundance of reds, yellows and oranges for colorful fall photography.
Using a longer focal-length lens is always a good way to isolate the stunning fall colors in your photograph. You can also use the sunlight to your advantage. For instance, take a close shot of a backlit leaf to make the colors look more vivid. Even when you’re taking a wide landscape shot, consider using the sun as your backlight to help capture the beautiful fall foliage colors.
Another good idea would be adjusting the camera’s color saturation setting to a slightly higher level, so that you get more intense colors. Alternatively, it is possible to increase color saturation or adjust colors during your photo editing phase.
The colors of autumn vary depending on when you’re shooting. Ideally, you should shoot at different times of a day to capture the many different colors of the season.
Choosing what colors your family members should wear is also important. Ideally, try wearing complementary colors. For instance, a blue dress looks stunning against the orange and red fall foliage.
Finally, experiment with the camera angle. Get low or shoot from a high angle to make the fall colors come alive in your frame. Also combining this technique with “same light on subject and background” can give you great even results like this portrait of the Krieg family at New Orleans Museum of Art
As always…have fun and shoot for the wall! Keep in touch with you family photo session photography and comment on this post!
I don’t’ do as much editorial photography these days as it’s not as much on my radar as it used to be. My world is full of commercial and brand story telling which is half real and half created to sell a product or service. Editorial photography tells the real story, no bells or whistles. I was honored to work on a project with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ 64 Parishes magazine that reported on a story I had no idea existed. The camera has introduced me to people and stories I would have otherwise never been involved in, and this instance is no different. I hope you visit the site to read more!
READ STORY HERE - https://64parishes.org/nurturing-the-lower-9
Ding. Ding. Dong. Tis the season to start thinking about your goals for next year. I am not talking about New Year’s Resolutions about eating better or exercising more. I want to talk about your photography goals for 2019. Are you ready for some REAL TALK? Then read on…
if you are ready you can just CLICK HERE - 2019 Photography Workshops
Do you want to learn to photograph better?
Do you want to learn how to see like the camera and react to the world around you with lightning precision of creativity, balance, and insight? Learning to be a better photographer takes time, practice, and a sincere dedication in your life to WANT to see your world in a different way. If this sounds like you, then keep reading.
I have been actively teaching photographers for over 16 years and that time has given me so many tools to help YOU be a better photographer. I am not here to teach you tips or tricks. I am not here to teach you what you can learn online. I am here to look you in the eye and find out what it is that makes your photography mind tick, tick, tick and learn! My courses are geared to turning your view of the world from a curious observer to a participating director, filled with apertures and focal lengths options for EVERY situation.
Do you want to learn how to photography portraits? Do you want to learn how to photograph second lines, live music, even Mardi Gras? You have come to the right place. Go ahead…make your resolution…
If you know me, I have never been one to photograph many kids, babies, or even teens. But after having a child of my own I have really enjoyed documenting my daughter’s personality through her experiences at learning and loving life. Parents often ask me, “how can I photograph my kids in a more creative and fun way”?
Interested in learning more about my child portrait services?
I don’t think there is an easy answer to photographing kids as they are all different and require a different approach to getting them to be their best selves when the camera is up and ready. I made this blog post to help you with photographing your kids in time for the upcoming holidays. I hope this will help you capture their natural beauty and adventurous spirit at the house and at your next family gathering!
Before you capture a photo, capture a child’s heart
One common mistake people make when photographing kids is trying too hard to make things happen as planned. For instance, trying to make them smile when they don’t want to, or trying to direct the shoot too much. I feel it just doesn’t work that way for kids. Instead, aim for fun times; and good photos will just happen. Speak to them in their language and spark their imagination at all times keeping them interested in the process. Most professional photographers swear by one simple thumb rule; Before you capture kids’ photos, capture their heart. PERIOD. This might mean asking some questions about their day, what foods they like, or even if they like cameras (see?) before you even touch the camera, or starting a conversation about their hobbies. The idea is to make them feel at ease before you get started. That way, you have a better chance of getting their attention during the shoot. Preparation for photographing children should start weeks in advance. But what should you be doing during that phase? Here are some tips and ideas.
Choosing the right location for your child’s photoshoot
When choosing a location for your kids or teens’ portrait session, consider a few questions. Maybe you have a favorite spot in mind or a location that speaks to you on an emotional level. That’s great, but what about consulting with the parents to find out if there is a place that they kid has a connection to where they feel comfortable and even playful? Try photographing at their favorite park or playground with the caveat that after the shoot they get playtime?
How is the lighting condition? – Just choosing a brightly-lit location is not enough. You need a place with enough open shades, so you can avoid shooting in the direct sun. As we know already direct sunlight creates harsh shadows – not good for children portraits unless you are shooting in full sun as a side light or diffusing it with a 5 in 1 reflector. Alternatively, shoot in the magic hour, which is an hour or so after the sunrise or an hour before the sunset.
Ask yourself, does the location offer visual variety? Choosing the right background will help make your kid portraits look more vivid and lively. Choose a location that offers enough visual variety. For instance, try going to an area near you where there are brightly colored houses, manicured fences with ivy and oak trees to accompany the composition to direct the viewer’s eyes towards the subject, while also adding more depth to your photo.
Choosing what to wear to the photoshoot is important!
Before you can decide what to wear, you need to know what not to wear. There is no set rule, but I like to tell parents to avoid busy prints and patterns as they do not translate well on camera. Bright colors are great but make sure you avoid harsh colors like neon, black, deep red and deep green as they could reflect onto your kids’ skin to make them look unnatural. It is also a good idea to avoid distracting logos and slogan shirts. If you’re photographing kids in natural light, avoid white shirts as they make it more difficult to set exposure if you are using auto.
Point being: the focus should be on your kids rather than on their outfits. If you’re still not sure what to wear, here are some good examples.
· Light blue overalls with matching headbands
· Seersuckers in pastel colors for your teens
· Double denim for your teen boys
· Basic neutrals or soft floral dresses for babies
Another important thing is that your kids’ outfits should be comfortable to wear and easy to maintain. Never let them wear hard-to-pull-on tights on a photo shoot. You cannot expect a happy mood from someone in physical discomfort, right?
Lighting large groups with strobes!
I have had this continuing portrait client for a few years now, photographing a very large group outside with multiple strobes. Paul B. Habans in New Orleans is the most laid back teachers I have ever met and they make a complex lighting scheme very easy and fun. It’s always different how to light for large groups and how to mix natural light and strobes, but once you do it for the same client in the same place, it gets easy!
Product photography in the studio!
When life gives you beans you do a photoshoot! Really on top of your game? You TIMELAPSE! I had 20+ bags of beans to shoot in my studio on Magazine Street in New Orleans so why not timelapse the process. You can see more about how I lit the beans and how I created a custom photoshoot workflow for this by SUBSCRIBING to my Youtube channel - GO HERE
Uptown New Orleans Headshot Video
I am very blessed to work with so many New Orleans artists who not only excel at their craft but offer their gifts. I have been working with Nick Pino of Dumbsmart Industries for the last 2 years to help create my marketing videos and I am very proud of our latest collaboration for my New Orleans headshot business. We filmed my clients both in my studio on Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans and on location to show viewers a small glimpse into my brand. Please share this post if you like, it would mean alot to me!
…the good thing about shooting street photography in New Orleans is that you never really lose the laser focus - you just have to hear the right trumpet lick (bah da da dah!!) and you fall in line…just like the band.”
I drove hurriedly through the uptown New Orleans side streets to get to the Lyons Center, worried and wondering. Wondering if I had all the gear I needed. Did I have film, my polaroid back, my lights, were my batteries charged, and was I going to get there on time? Worried that what if my lack of street shooting in the recent years would render my eye rusty and my vision slow to capture the right angles of the 90th year of marching of the Prince of Wales SAPC? No pressure, yeah right!
Remembering to “TAKE MY OWN DAMN ADVICE” I made a checklist, and kept it simple: two lenses, one light, Hasselblad and a Canon and one bag to hold them all. Kind of like the Lord of the Rings for photography…ok nerd alert…I digress…
I was grateful to be able to do portraits of the members in the gym before they exited to the streets, where I got an amazing behind the scenes look at this amazing group. Seeing what they see from the inside, side, and back of the line - the faces and phones held erect in joy and rapid fire digital snaps…
About ten years ago I stopped the mad hustle to shoot EVERY second line and parade and focused my view and story on The Prince of Wales. I became good friends with two members and I felt I could do more for them and their crew in the long run by giving them my full attention. In the last few years after my business picked up and my daughter was born, I was going out shooting less on the streets so I had reason on this day to be a little apprehensive. But for me, the good thing about shooting street photography in New Orleans is that you never lose the laser focus - you just have to hear the right trumpet lick (bah da da dah!!) and you fall in line, just like the band and everyone else.
I saw the usual suspects, characters, hanger ons, and my photographer crew - tried and true. Mastro, Eric Waters, Pableaux, Judy Cooper, Buddah and many others. It felt good - and I am so honored to bring you these photos of the 90th Marching of the Prince of Wales Social Aid and Pleasure Club from New Orleans, Louisiana on Sunday, October 14th 2018.
All Images ©Zack Smith Photography and may not be used or shared without permission, doing so is stealing and that’s not right. Please share this gallery and If you are in one of these photos, I am happy to send them you - email or call! -504-251-7745 - firstname.lastname@example.org
This one-of-a-kind night and art photography course can only take place one time of year: The Arts Council of New Orleans’ Luna Fete: a celebration of art, light, and technology.
Join me as I guide you through the artistically illuminated night sky of Fulton Street and Lafayette Square, as we photograph the light based projection mapping and intricate digital sculptures made by artists around the country.
I have photographed this amazing night of lights in New Orleans, and I have actually led a free photo walk when the event was new. The high quality and interaction of art has come so far in the last few years and I can’t wait to photograph it with you!
You can visit the workshop page and signup here!