Month: November 2014

Christmas Photos - Just the Tip's n Tricks!

November 30, 2014

Right around now i start getting a bunch of emails from people, former students, current students, all asking about “what kind of camera should i get for xmas”, “what lens should i get”, or “how can i take a better family photo at Christmas dinner”. Well, this Blog’s for You!

Stocking Stuffers

In the small window of December when the economy seems to get a little better and we start spending that saved money on new gear, we want to make it count. It’s not often we have the extra money to buy new camera gear, or even have someone that WANTS To buy it for us! (must be nice)

1) My suggestion to you: sit down for about 10 minutes and Meditate on your Photographic Year. What were you high points? Low points? Do you remember when you “just couldn’t get that shot”, or “couldn’t get close/wide enough”? Remembering these moments will help you figure out what you really need to get better photographs, not what WANT right now in this rare moment of purchase power.

2) Follow the Light! – like the Magi followed that Star, you may be lacking in the light department if you want to do ANY Christmas family portraits indoors. If you are shooting outdoors, you are probably fine when shooting during the day. But these short daylight days get shorter when lunch lasts 4 hours and all those damn TV timeouts stretch the noon game beyond sunset! Jeez!

Check out www.KEH.com and pickup a USED speed light that has a swivel and rotating head. The best way you will cover an entire room is to NOT use you pop up flash, but to light the whole room w/ your new speed light. Angle that puppy to the ceiling (if it’s light/white colored) or bounce it behind you to the white window curtains to give you a good soft light coverage of your portrait.

3) Is it Prime Time? – I would say that if you can’t find direction in the last two helpful hints, then it must be PRIME TIME! Ask yourself – “Self? (yes) what is my favorite Focal Length?” and you might answer…”i don’t know…zoom?” NO! I suggest you check out your Metadata in Bridge or Lightroom and look at a group of your BEST photo shoots…then, look at the data to find out what Focal Length you:

– shot the most at
– selected the most at
– did final edits on

This will give you an idea of what your Favorite Focal length is…then, if you do not have a sharp prime version of this lens…go buy that! Example:


This is the metadata from my recent live music shoot. Looks like i hover around 50mm, 70mm, 100mm, and 200mm. This tells me i would benefit from 50mm, possibly and 85mm, or 100mm prime lens – giving me that maximum sharpness, and 2.8/1.8/1.4 possibility!!

If you have any more questions….let em fly!!!! it’s open season! PULL!


Zack Smith Photography puts out 3 albums in 3 weeks!

November 11, 2014

Well, not really. But three album covers i produced and shot are coming out at the end of this year. I am very happy and proud of the work. Two of the albums were done by talented young New Olreans artists Alex Bosworth (amazing songwriter, voice, piano/guitar) and Andrew Block (in demand guitarist/session dude), and the other was done for season vet’s Debbie Davis and Matt Perrine. I am so honored to have worked on them, and been able to create unique photographs that speak to these artists vision, and present them in a way they want to be seen. This is my favorite part of the job..

It's Easy if You Try, Photographing Kids in the 3rd Wave

November 9, 2014

For years and years i would turn down photographing children. I didn’t want to photograph them by themselves, or with their parents. The ideas of chasing a kid around a park, or someones living room, made me cringe and i would then “politely decline and recommend”…

Politely Decline and Recommend. Politely Decline and Recommend….what i was doing, was Accepting Defeat and Throwing Away Money.

So, what was it that i didn’t like about photographing kids…control. I had no control over what they did, how they looked, if they stared at the camera or not. So if there were so many variables I could not CONTROL, right? I did this so often for so many years, i missed the “first wave” of friends with kids who wanted some photos from me…and the 2nd wave heard from the 1st wave that i “didn’t shoot kids”…

But then the 3rd wave came, and this turned out to be My Wave…

I decided to reduce my variables all together:


Go to City Park (you WILL FIND a great background) Bring nothing that plugs in, takes batteries, or requires over 15 minutes of set up time.


I set up a 30×30″ diffuser panel on a C-stand and dropped a 20lb shot bag (filled with rocks from City Park). My assistant Tamara bounced light back into the diffused area where the kids sat w/ an elliptical 5 in 1 on the Silver side.

Doing it this way allowed me to concentrate on my settings and the kids only. Not recycle time, color temp, shadows on the face – i let go of control and gained freedom in the end.


Canon 6D, 70-200mm 2.8 @ 2.8/200mm

allowed me to bring that moss in the background to just right degree of softness as to not distract from my subject. Here’s a few i like, w/ minimal editing. 


Global Edits in ACR – +whites, +clarity, +contrast – Selective Adjustment Brush on Right Side of Face.

I added that last shot in to show another way to have freedom..just let the kid GO. After trying to corral them under the diffused light, all they wanted to do was move. And if we are trying to always capture someone in their natural state, in their best way…then we had to let em go.

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