Month: December 2016

When agency, photographer, and client communicate, they are able to Creatively Collaborate!

December 27, 2016

When you really take the time to look at a body of advertising or creative branded content, you truly see that there are more than just one cook in the kitchen. Notice the placement of the type, the size and it’s font. Notice the negative space allowed by a photograph to boost what would be a blank space into a colorful background for an apt page title. See the subject in position, smiling, balanced, and lit to make your eyes move over the page slowly with precision and tact? Yeah, I notice that too!

Being able to coordinate these subtleties of a large scale photoshoot and Annual Report takes the utmost patience and clear communication between Agency, Photographer, and Client. I recently had this experience when working with the New Orleans branding and web design agency, Design the Planet, and the LSU Health Foundation to produce a series of portraits and photographs for their 2016 Annual Report and website. In order to get the most out of each portrait we made location scouting a top priority. Each doctor, organization, or donor we photographed were on seriously tight schedules and we could not take up more time than needed. 

After each scout, I knew what lighting we would need to create each dynamic portrait. At each shoot we were able to arrive a few hours early and setup only the gear needed for each shot, nothing more and nothing less. Having Adrienne Folse at the agency be the liaison for the client helped me efficiently communicate with each person as to the best time to scout, and then ultimately, to shoot. As agency head, Adrienne was also on each shoot helping with all facets of the shot – something I happen to enjoy on such an important shoot. 

What I gained from this experience is that when you have open communication as to what the goals are from each photograph, where they are going, and how they will be viewed can do nothing but help you with composition, exposure, and even focal length. I have always said “let the subject set the settings” and I still stand by that, but these helpful insights will only benefit the shared outcome of the next amazing portrait you make.

High Resolutions: Photographing with Intention and Purpose in 2017

December 26, 2016

Need A Photo Resolution for 2017? Why Not Shoot With Intention And Purpose?

Can we all agree on a few things?

Can we all agree that every great photograph has a subject? Ok? Good. If you don’t believe me then pull out the nearest photo book on the shelf and open it up to one of your favorite photographs. I guarantee there is a place in the photograph that your eye settles to by way of the photographer’s placement of that subject. Here are a few photographs I selected from my favorites of Voodoo Fest 2016 to show you what i am talking about. Even though I am running like a mad man from stage to stage, chasing the light and following the music, I always have to consider my subject. What’s my best composition, where’s the best exposure, how long is too long to wait, wait, wait, wait, for the moment to engage the shutter?

 Silhouetted dancer at Voodoo Fest 2016

Silhouetted dancer at Voodoo Fest 2016

 Dancers with Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Dancers with Preservation Hall Jazz Band

I intentionally did this by using lines that have directed your eye there, or by the subject having components that reflect more light than other objects. There are various ways to direct our viewers to where we want them to go in our photos, so that in turn, they look at them! Yet, we must be calculated about this compositional decision. We must have a plan to have a subject, create depth, and photograph creatively. We must have purpose and intention when that camera meets the eye, when we become observer to director.

Here are a 3 proven techniques I have used to make sure I am creating my next photograph with intention and purpose.

1. Let the Subject Set the Settings – be ready for the shot by pre-setting your aperture and focal length before you start shooting! Your subject will dictate what your depth of field should be and if you want to “freeze” the action with your shutter speed. Why not pre-set Aperture or Shutter speed, and move on?

2. Practice “Photo Patience” – don’t be in such a hurry to “get the shot” and move on. Sometimes the best shots happen when your face isn’t jammed into the back of your camera. Stick around and witness your scene change as the Earth spins and the shadows get lower. Have a seat, put the camera down, and just watch…observe…be.

3. Review Corner to Corner – when reviewing (playback) your images, make sure you review with your eyes from corner to corner, starting at one edge and slowly working your way to the opposite edge. You are looking for objects, highlights, or features that distract from your subject. If the point is to have the viewer see the subject, then we don’t want to have any extraneous things taking them away from it.

So as 2017 approaches make sure you have some New Year’s Resolutions planned that are strictly photographic, truly creative, and purposefully intentional!



WGNO and Zack Smith help you Shoot the Supermoon!

December 12, 2016

To photograph the Supermoon anywhere, you need the right equipment at the right place and the right time. 

I was grateful to have WGNO’s News with a Twist producer JD take interest in my upcoming supermoon photography workshop in New Orleans. We met at Crescent Park and filmed a segment for an upcoming Photography Tips video.

You can view that here:


SIGN UP for the Workshop HERE! – https://www.zacksmith.com/new-orleans-supermoon-photography-workshop-2016/


TEXT From Article on WGNO.com:

Do you ever wonder why some pictures of the moon look outstanding, but yours just look fuzzy, blurry, or just really, really, small? Well the reason is probably your camera setup. According to Zack Smith, owner of Zack Smith Photography, you can’t just point and shoot to get that impressive picture.

“Our cameras are really smart, our smart phones are really smart. But what they want to do is give us an average scene,” he says. “When we’re photographing the moon, it’s anything but average. It’s dark and it’s bright and the camera has to pick one unless we put it on manual and spot meter and pick it ourselves.”

Zack has been working in photography for 19 years and knows a thing or two about getting that great shot. His number one tip? You have to have the right tools!...WATCH THE REST HERE


"This is where we make ART" New Portraits Have Begun in a Sacred Space

December 8, 2016

New Orleans is and always will be a sacred space that pulls the creativity from those that are ready to give.

Don’t think for a second I am not grateful about the amount of amazing gifts New Orleans gives. Most of all this city allows the artist to create freely, experiment at will, and be a force in any way under her skies. Since I moved here permanently in 2000 I have always had the need to organize my thoughts, make art, create moments, in a way I have never before. I am very grateful to have begun a new portrait series in thanks to the wonderful creators and organizers of New Orleans’ newest force – The New Orleans Airlift’s Music Box performance space. These guys are nothing new to creating groundbreaking art and installation in town, but they now have a new home, and are letting me photograph there….alot

I began this series last week and was able to witness some quiet rehearsal moments when the legend Rickie Lee Jones began whisper-singing into an effects laden phone, stretching from an old telephone booth.

Louis Michot from the Lost Bayou Ramblers sauntered over with his violin so his tune was in earshot, unplugged and raw like amazing Music Box performance space. I go to hear a few tunes as I setup to make portraits of these amazing musicians. I am forever grateful at the opportunity to create art at this wonderful space.  

Am I lucky to live here, or am I lucky to have migrated east continually since my birth in Lafayette, Louisiana? I keep moving east…east…and south. I moved through Baton Rouge, and when I began my New Orleans life I started uptown and moved east through the Irish Channel of New Orleans. I lived in the Garden District before living in the Treme. I lived in the Bywater, Holy Cross, and now St. Bernard Parish. I keep moving east, south, east but I keep moving inward and outward and out in my own life and creative journey. The roots continue deeper and connect with others like myself. I am grateful the The New Orleans Airlifts’ Music Box started in the Bywater, went to City Park, and then moved East, South, and landed where it is now in the 9th Ward. Come share the journey….

The organizers, Delaney, Taylor, and Jay have been nothing but warm and open, inviting me to create in a place like no other. As I said before, New Orleans has a way of bringing out the best in artists, and the Music Box, I think, is the living and breathing musical reality of that. Go see a show...INFO HERE

  Spider Stacy  of the Pogues plays inside the Tintinnabulation by artist  Angaliska Polachek

Spider Stacy of the Pogues plays inside the Tintinnabulation by artist Angaliska Polachek

 Rickie Lee Jones at the Music Box in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Rickie Lee Jones at the Music Box in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

 It was a pleasure to meet Langhorn Slim at the Music Box. Thank man...

It was a pleasure to meet Langhorn Slim at the Music Box. Thank man…

Of Airboats and Audubon in the Parish of Vermillion, My Trip to the Edge of the Earth is online now

December 2, 2016

Timmy Vincent cut the airboat’s engine and surveyed the water of Cole’s Bayou in Vermilion Parish. “They had cattle drives in these marshes,” he told his visitors. As the senior manager at the National Audubon Society’s Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary, Vincent knows every inch of the 26,000-acre preserve. “Mr. Cole was a trail boss. They’d drive them north, hit the Old Spanish Trail, U.S. 90. There was nothing to stop them, just a few natural bayous they had to swim.”

Excerpt from “Living Laboratory” by Brian Boyles, Louisiana Cultural Vistas, Winter 2016

I was honored to have been pegged to join Brian and Chris from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities trip down south, way down to the Paul J. Rainey Sanctuary in Vermillion Parish. Along with filmmaker John Ritchie, we experienced a hands on working testament of what the National Audubon Society sees as the coasts future in land, birds, and grass....read the full article HERE

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