Little known fact – my very first job in New Orleans (almost the week i landed from life on the road) was lab technician for the darkroom at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art. Local photo-hero Victoria Ryan was a guest darkroom instructor while i was learning at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in MT, and she was the head of the photo dept at NOAFA.
Zack – “hey Victoria, it’s Zack Smith, the Louisiana guy you taught in at RMSP”
Victoria – “Who?”
Zack – “the homeless hairy guy from Lafayette. We talked about NOLA”
Victoria – “Oh yea, come on by”
And so it began. i had a key to the darkroom and depending on who was printing and how busy they were, i’d fill chemicals during the day, night, and middle of the night right before or after a show at Tipitina’s….we’ll, we were Uptown. I met a host of characters there i still see from time to time – darkroom enthusiasts, and your local creative folks such as Erika Goldring, Maja Georgiou, Millie Fuller, Rachel Brennecke and many others. It was around 2002 that i begged Victoria to let me offer a class i created called New Orleans at Night, a field class that taught folks how to shoot at night and in low light situations using ambient and artificial light. I was shooting ALOT in the clubs back then, and kind of became known for it – so, i taught it. And this year i just finished up my 11th year teaching it, sometimes 3x a year.
I met and taught (and learned with) so many people – and some even still do night photography today and are really good at it – Erika Goldring, Alen Zakem, Cathy Weeks, Scott Simon and others. As i enter the fall of my 13th year working, and 11th year teaching – want to show you some of my favorite images my students have shot – consider this a gallery, a pitch, a thank you.