Using Community To Grow As A Photographer - A 20 Year Tale / by Zack Smith

For me, creativity begins with experimentation and overcoming fear.

There was a time when I was first starting out as a photographer where nothing made sense. The apertures, shutter speeds and ISO's where lost on me as well as the dollars spent experimenting with countless rolls of film.

As a 5th year senior at LSU I was eager to finish my degree in Journalism so I could hit the road and let the camera be my guide. In the meantime I had to learn this device, so I converted my bathroom into a darkroom and began experimenting with Rodinal, Kodak Developer, and any black and white chemicals I could get my hands on. In the beginning, it was all about making mistakes and learning. 

Especially when I was just learning how to develop  my styles as a portrait photographer, I still had to mess up, experiment, and learn. In my early days I photographed my friends, strangers, and those around me. Funny how 20 years go by and that has not changed at all...

Even though the stakes are higher as professional, I can't lose sight of the need to make mistakes, push my boundaries and learn.

Just because I have a studio now, know my gear, and enjoy all types of clients, it doesn't mean I can rest on my laurels. I have to continually be learning, experimenting and growing as a photographer. So just like before, I still have to learn and grow from the community around me.

 Debbie Davis photographed at my studio on Magazine Street in New Orleans, 2018

Debbie Davis photographed at my studio on Magazine Street in New Orleans, 2018

My friend Debbie Davis can sing. Damn she’s got pipes like I’ve never heard and she commands a stage like no one else. Debbie came by the studio a few weeks ago for some portraits and allowed me to experiment with light and backgrounds and I am very grateful for the opportunity to have a friend that trusts in my vision.

debbie-davis-zack-smith-portrait-photographer-new-orleans

.As an artist at any stage we need our friends and collaborators to help push us to new levels. When I was first starting out learning the ropes as a photographer I needed those friends daily in order to get comfortable with my craft. 20 years after picking up a camera, I still need that support to learn. Thank you Debbie and countless others who have allows me to stumble, capture and learn right in front of you. 

debbie-davis-zack-smith-photography-portrait-new-orleans-photographer