street photography

A New Orleans Street Party with the Prince of Wales: Photo Gallery and Behind the Scenes by Zack Smith Photography

…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…

POW business manager and member, Stanley Taylor makes his smokin’ exit the only way he knows how.

POW business manager and member, Stanley Taylor makes his smokin’ exit the only way he knows how.

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 -

Satchmo Summerfest Photo Gallery 2017 Day 3 by Zack Smith Photography

Satchmo Summerfest rolls despite the standing water and soggy shoes.

Satchmo Summerfest rolls despite the standing water and soggy shoes.

Anyone in New Orleans knows "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show".....and one severe storm event, only gives us another reason to parade when the sun comes back out. This is the constant reality here, we live here because we love it despite our geographical location from June to November. Storms, floods, and hurricanes are just another monkey on our back during these months but the show must go on. 

There is nothing like a post storm second line in New Orleans, it's like a rebirth, a second chance.

Satchmo Summerfest had to close early on Saturday but on Sunday, the St. Augustine Church opening day mass went on as scheduled, as did the second line led by the Treme Brass Band and the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club. I hope you enjoy the images below, I know I am behind on captions..they are still rolling in...just like this parade.

Mardi Gras: A Feast for the Senses for it is the Playground of Creatives... by Zack Smith Photography favorite costumes were these two "House Ornament" lions... favorite costumes were these two "House Ornament" lions...

Mardi Gras 2017 Photo Gallery: #Colourgasm

Photographs really do tell a story don't they? One photograph can say so many different things to many people, and a series of images may tell one singular story so well, that we all agree. I hope you take a second to look at these images and agree with me -

Mardi Gras is a feast for the senses because it is the playground of the creatives...

If you just took a second to look around you, take it all in, you realized that New Orleans was one heartbeat, one song, one love on Mardi Gras day. It was something I had sorely missed after 3 years not participating in the revelry. Yes, I had put together some great marching bands for Chewbacchus and Krewe Du Vieux but that was more like creative WORK rather than creative PLAY. And I was due for some play. 

Being able to create a costume with my family meant the world to me, as this was our daughter Vega's 1st Mardi Gras day (definitely not her 1st parade...she's a pro). My wife and her dressed as slick Owl's and I the moss laden tree. At the last minute I abandoned the costume for the easy of use carrying the "dad bag" full of baby needs and wants, and my camera. In year's past partying took precedent over bringing out my good working cameras, but today was different and it had to be documented. 



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How To Tuesday #26 - "Why Buy When You Can Try? Dirty Coast to Deftones: My Professional Experience with Renting Lenses" by Zack Smith Photography

As all photographers know it sometimes takes a lifetime to own just the right gear you can need for any type of shoot. Not only is the best gear usually the most expensive, but there is always some sort of "upgrade" or "v 2.1" right around the corner just teasing your inquisitive nature. As our buying habits are different I can only speak for myself when I say that I usually make do with what I have. But that is changing.

In my early days of shooting strictly film, I was limited to a 24mm, 50mm, an 85 lens for my Nikon n90s (remember those!) when I was shooting alot of low lit night club concerts at Tipitinas and street photography in New Orleans. In these early years, I was regulated to those three lenses, which I then mastered as those focal lengths became synonymous in how I saw the world.

After years of using multiple camera formats and focal lengths, ignorance is definitely bliss since I have TOO many choices. This for me, is a good thing. I really do enjoy diagnosing my client's visual problems when I have multiple formats, focal lengths and lighting choices to apply to each photoshoot. I am no longer limited to certain focal lengths that I own. 

As I write this, I still do not own everything I want and I don't think I will EVER have every lens or light I'll ever need or own. So when my vision requires a piece of gear I currently do not own, I often turn to renting gear for the specific shoot.

For my recent shoot with Dirty Coast t-shirts and an upcoming Deftones show at the Saenger Theatre I rented the Canon 35mm f1.4 and the Canon 50mm 1.2 from one of my favorite rental spots - The prices are fair and the return is made easy by a ready to go UPS return sticker. Oh, and they have EVERYTHING...

35mm 1.4 probably my favorite new lens...

35mm 1.4 probably my favorite new lens...

Canon 50 1.2 was so much fun to shoot!

Canon 50 1.2 was so much fun to shoot!

At this point I can't afford each of these's just not in the short term budget. But renting them for specific shoots suits me just fine. Take a look at a couple of images I shot with these lenses at the Dirty Coast shoot. NOTE: All images shot at each lenses Max Aperture i.e. 35mm @ 1.4 and 50mm @ 1.2.  I absolutely love being able shoot at 1.4 and 1.2..but it takes ALOT of practice at nailing the shot! Most importantly, you have to realize that you have such a small focus range/depth and that any slight movement from subject or camera, you risk a soft focus point...or missed all together. But when you nail it...You KNOW IT.

I just love that nice shallow depth of filed and bokeh with the 50mm 1.2!

I just love that nice shallow depth of filed and bokeh with the 50mm 1.2!

The 50mm 1.2 had great focus lock, and found the subject at any depth.

The 50mm 1.2 had great focus lock, and found the subject at any depth.

Especially in low light, the 50mm 1.2 was bright, and it was easy to focus with low nat light

Especially in low light, the 50mm 1.2 was bright, and it was easy to focus with low nat light

So, probably my "next" lens...(meaning, pennies are being saved as we speak) is the Canon 35mm 1.4. I first rented the lens for this years French Quarter Festival (you can see my gallery here) and I don't think it left my Mark 3 at all. I guess I am becoming comfortable with the close range and intimate engagement the 35mm focal length gives me. Combine that with the tack sharp focusing, maximum light gathering, and beautiful bokeh at 1.4 - It's a lens I can't live without too much longer out of my bag. I am not there that's why I rent. Here are a few of my favorite 35mm 1.4 shots from the last few shoots.

I do like the bokeh on the 35mm more than the 50mm 1.2. I find its a bit softer...

I do like the bokeh on the 35mm more than the 50mm 1.2. I find its a bit softer...

Here are some more 35mm @ 1.4 - I can't get enough!

There you have it. A few of my favorite shots from two of my favorite new lenses. At price tags of $1,349 for the 50mm 1.2 and $1,799 for the 35mm 1.4, I don't think I'll be buying soon. For $165 I could rent both of them for a week, shoot a ton of personal and client work while counting and saving those pennies...

Learning the Land by Location Scouting - How to Turn a Simple Walk into Pre-Production on your Next Shoot! by Zack Smith Photography

I keep a little black book. Well, it's a small yellow "pad" application inside my iphone that keeps all of my Locations and Notes as I drive and walk from job to job, studio to home and coffee shop to coffee shop. I am always looking for unique environments to serve as backgrounds and layers for future shoots. As you may have been reading this photography blog (which I have had here since 2006....!) I do feel my purpose is to help others around me in the photography community, but there is ONE thing I don't share too much of: my locations. I have always felt that learning how to use strobes, how to pose portraits and edit in lightroom are skills that can be learned over time. Some learn it faster, some take more time. Finding the right location, and especially the perfect background for any subject's story, I feel is the one part of the creative photographic process that evolves even slower. It's tough to teach since it's so personal. 

There are a few techniques I can share with you about Location Scouting for your next photoshoot, and it's an easy one.

I suggest to portrait photographers to always snap photos of your locations and share them with your Google Drive or email AS SOON AS YOU CAN! I don't know about you but I always am inspired at the wrong time...either I am late and driving somewhere, I don't have a camera on me, or the light just isn't right. Well, that's the point of documenting a location by any means necessary. No matter if the light isn't just perfect, or your idea is not fully formed, you have the location logged either by photo or a written description. Here are some photos I have taken with my "location scout hat" never know what you might find on walk Learning the Land...

Click on the Photo to Expand and Learn the Technique!

Feb 2011 Throwback Weekend : My weekend walking Philly backstreets... by Zack Smith

If i remember it correctly: the end of 2010 was insane for me. December 8-12th, Rotary Downs did a short tour that started in Delaware and in 4 days as we played Newark, Philly, Pittsburgh, and Brooklyn. I took my Hasselblad with me and did a short walk around our friend and host's Justin Sten's house early one morning. He lives in a rough part of Philadelphia, but when armed with a 2lb silver film camera, I sort of felt safe. Street photography was where I first began to see the magic: when angles line up to draw you in, the sounds of the city sing in sync with the Rule of Thirds, "f8 and be there...f8 and be there"...

Here's our host, Justin Stens. Drummer, singer, motorcycle vagabond.

And my band mate Chris Colombo in retrospective chill mode. The guy carries light around w/ him like this.

I went back to Philly to visit my stepmom's family, and where she grew up: Newtown Square, right outside of Philly.. VERY different than Justin's area. I guess that's just how i live y'all, one foot in da swamp, one foot in da castle. Her family is amazing, and they showed us a time i'll never forget. Even if i could remember some of the evenings at Bob's...

Here's the area where Ann grew up. Somehow film just captured this snowy day just right. All images shot w / Rolliefliex TLR, 75mm lens.