Month: August 2017

Underexposed: A Celebration of Regional Photography in New Orleans

August 26, 2017

Our world is not backlit and our photography shouldn’t be either.

I’m not trying to start trouble here…but if you know me at all, I am a photographic broken record. I repeat myself ALOT and in my 15+ years of teaching photography I have always said the “Proof is in the Print” and “Shoot for the Wall” over and over and over…

This is because I do believe the print is the medium to fully express the power of a photograph. We see with our eyes, light falling on our subject, we print for the viewer as light then falls on the print. It was an amazing event to see so many great New Orleans photographers represent their best work at UNDEREXPOSED!

New Orleans Solar Eclipse Gallery and Photography Meet Up

August 22, 2017
 Things were looking up at Lafayette Square in New Orleans viewing the Solar Eclipse. ©ZSP

Things were looking up at Lafayette Square in New Orleans viewing the Solar Eclipse. ©ZSP

What a wonderful feeling of community today during the solar eclipse! Although New Orleans did not get a total eclipse, this rare celestial event brought out around 250 long lunch breakers young and old. There were so many people outside sitting in circles, laughing, hugging and clapping. When’s the next one?

I had more fun passing out eclipse glasses and letting people borrow my prism than you can imagine. I saw some amazing photographs of the sun, and even more awesome DIY viewing boxes! The New Orleans creative spirit shone through well before the solar eclipse began with locals assembling at Lafayette Square Park in the Central Business District. Pinhole cardboard boxes, pinhole paper plates, and even the young couple holding their hands together viewing the eclipse’s ground shadow. 

Our Solar Eclipse Photography Meet Up Made The News!


Click to enlarge the photo gallery below and share the link if you like the pics!

Satchmo Summerfest 2017 Day 1 Photo Gallery

August 11, 2017

Satchmo Fest makes it fun to learn about the man and the music that make New Orleans so special: Louis Armstrong and Jazz.

 Desmond Venable of the Red Wolf Brass Band performs at 2017 Satchmo Fest at the U.S. Mint.

Desmond Venable of the Red Wolf Brass Band performs at 2017 Satchmo Fest at the U.S. Mint.

The moments and the magic were abound despite the wet conditions at this year’s Satchmo Summerfest at the U.S. Mint in New Orleans. I always look forward to photographing this music festival for so many reasons.

 Dancers old and young get down to the music at Satchmo Fest.

Dancers old and young get down to the music at Satchmo Fest.

Satchmo Fest is not a large festival, it actually takes place all within the confines of the U.S. Mint in the SE corner of the French Quarter, hosting two music stages and one indoor symposium area on the third floor.  All within this three day festival you have access and easy options of great New Orleans food and drink. What makes this festival special is that you also have access to the best of the best in scholars and musicians knowledgable in the music and history of the festival’s namesake: Louis Armstrong. 

I hope you enjoy this gallery of DAY 1 of Satchmo Summerfest…stay tuned for Day 2 !



How to Organize Your Photography for a Portfolio Presentation

August 10, 2017
 Zack Smith and Jennifer Shaw presenting

Zack Smith and Jennifer Shaw presenting “How To Prepare Your Photography Portfolio” to the New Orleans Photo Alliance on August 8, 2017

I was honored to speak to about 20 New Orleans photographers this week on the steps needed to create your best photography portfolio for exhibition and presentation. I spoke on a few topics I feel are important and then photographer Jennifer Shaw presented her well researched information on crafting your artist statement. Here are some highlights from our talk and critique.

A portfolio is a collection of images that you bring together to show a body of work. You can create a portfolio for several reasons.

+Gallery Inclusion for a Fine Art show

+Prospective Client like an Ad Agency

+Wedding or Portrait Client, and more


Here’s an example of two of my portfolios and how I present them. I also added my “leave behind” and branding materials!

Always include your best work. This collection of work should easily show your creative style, technical proficiency, and be to the point. Your portfolio should be tailored towards the job you want and appeal to the client’s creative vision.

+What kind of work does the gallery, agency, or creative team look for?

+Research each of your target’s website, past exhibition and client roster

+Practice empathy – put yourself in your client’s shoes – what are they thinking?

Your passion for what you do will be evident in the collection of your best work. The way

you carry yourself and speak on your work will show confidence in your vision and art. Your portfolio should be presented in both the best way to showcase the work collected and it should meet submission guidelines for your client/gallery etc.

+How does the gallery or agency take submission? Most will have this clear on their website. Can’t find it? Pick up the phone and give them a call. Phones are great.

+Do they accept Digital or Print submissions? Do they return your physical portfolio?

+Ask how to follow up? Consider you’re not the only one with the great idea to send your work!

Photographing the Solar Eclipse in New Orleans

August 6, 2017
 For viewing and photographing the Solar Eclipse in New Orleans, you

For viewing and photographing the Solar Eclipse in New Orleans, you’ll need some special gear!

Just imagine all of the wonderful photographs that will be taken during this solar eclipse, the first in 99 years that can be seen in some capacity from coast to coast. I think we as a New Orleans photography community need to step up and represent how our images are made and show em how we do it! That’s why I am organizing a Solar Eclipse Photo Meet Up where we can view and photograph the solar eclipse together! In this post we’ll talk about the gear needed and how we can SAFELY view and document the eclipse.

11:30 Lafayette Square, New Orleans is where I will be!

From noon to 3pm on Monday, August 21st you will be able to view the solar eclipse in New Orleans. While we won’t be able to view a 100% totality event we will be able to see %75-%80 of a solar eclipse, which is pretty damn cool. There are safe ways to view and photograph the solar eclipse in New Orleans and I hope to help you also figure out creative ways to document this event is well. It is great if you can capture such a wonderful event on record, but doing it with creativity and style is where we want to be. Please read this post fully and share, but MEETUP with me at Lafayette Square at 11:30 on Monday, August 21st to shoot and view. Follow the links to buy your own gear but i’ll have a few glasses for you.


Where will sun will be at noon in New Orleans?

The best app I have for this is The Photographers Ephemerus and SUN CALC (see here) and can be downloaded for iphone and android. This app helps me figure out the best spot to be in during special moon events like the supermoon, and now the solar eclipse. Here is a screenshot from 12pm on Monday, August 21st in New Orleans from both apps.

Photographing the Solar Eclipse needs to be done with special equipment.  Lens filters are always required to view and photograph the eclipse. We need to protect our own eyes too!.Telescopes, binoculars, and cameras need solar filters for two reasons: to protect them from intense sunlight and to ensure that you don’t accidentally look at the Sun through an unfiltered instrument.

Our challenge is to obtain a set of photographs that captures these fleeting phenomena. During the total phase, all solar filters must be removed. This is because the sun’s corona has a surface brightness a million times fainter than the sun’s visible disk or photosphere, so photographs of the corona must be made without a filter. Furthermore, it is completely safe to view the totally eclipsed sun directly with the naked eye. No filters are needed, and in fact, they would completely hide the view. (SOURCE:  NIKONUSA)

Never look at the sun without  approved solar filtration over your eyes. Permanent, irreversible eye damage and/or blindness can result in seconds. Never point your camera into the sun without an approved solar filter over your camera lens(es). Not using a solar filter at eclipse magnifications will ruin your camera in seconds. Never improvise, modify or use general photography neutral density filters. When it comes to solar filters, you have several options: filter sheet, screw-on front filter, or a solar filter that mounts between the camera and lens on an interchangeable-lens setup.



(Source – Great article from B&H – https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/tips-and-solutions/how-photograph-solar-eclipse )

The best strategy is to choose one aperture and bracket the exposures over a range of shutter speeds from 1/1000 second to 1 second. You should rehearse the actions of setting up the camera and adjusting exposures because it is common for photographers to become easily distracted when viewing this phase of the solar eclipse, so much so that you forget to make pictures.

Use live view or an electronic viewfinder for the “what you see is what you get” advantage. It is also safer for your eyes to NOT be looking through an optical finder if you ignored my advice about securely mounting a filter.

Check out Mr. Eclipse’s Solar Exposure Guide here – this looks really confusing but the more you read it, makes total sense. You are going to be constantly opening either your shutter speed, aperture, or ND filter as the sun reaches totality (thus decreasing in intensity) but then stopping down again as it moves out of totality (having to put our glasses on again)

 This map shows the path of Totality of the Solar Eclipse (SOURCE: www.timeanddate.com)

This map shows the path of Totality of the Solar Eclipse (SOURCE: www.timeanddate.com)

Solar eclipses may be viewed and photographed but you need to take safety into account. You can photograph a solar eclipse with any type of camera, but the longer the focal length of the lens (at least 300mm) the larger the images of the sun you’ll be able to make. Purchasing an Extender for your telephoto is key, but 300mm should be a good start. If you can get 400mm, or even 600mm you will be getting closer!.

One great way to tell the story is to get wide, and silhouette the crowd, silhouette buildings that tell a more creative story of an eclipse. Why shoot real close to the sun when you can make it more interesting with the world around you?

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