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Business Branding and Lifestyle Photography in New Orleans: Your story is the lead character!

headshot photographer New Orleans shoots in natural light
Sticky
January 5, 2021

Leslie Hooper and her dog Dexter, photographed at Zack Smith Photography Studio

Your face is your brand and your story is the lead character. I bet you never thought about your business that way before right? In the last four years photographing headshots at my studio on Magazine Street I have been amazed and in awe at the variety of ways that business owners seek to promote their brand. The easiest way for a potential client to identify someone’s business is by their name and their face. For most business owners, it’s not just as easy as putting your face out there, so there has to be a variety of images to tell your story.

Studio headshots and a mix of natural light photography can help diversify your brand.

Simple studio headshots

Less is really more and you can say a lot without being over styled or just visually messy. A combination of indoor simplicity and outdoor scenes can round out a business headshot or New Orleans portrait session in under one hour. I have finally figured out a way to get you in and out of my studio in an hour while giving you creative photography options based on your brand needs.

Headshots should be relaxed and show that side of you when the cameras aren’t out.

Being in the business of making people feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations is what I do well. I have been working with strangers for over 20 years to give them their best images.

Deanna Causey chose her headshot in natural light at City Park in New Orleans

Your brand identity is important and your headshots and lifestyle photography should reflect that, but most of all it should reflect who YOU are. In this stressful and unprecedented COVID19 world we live in, safety is still my number one goal, and I have repeatedly made my studio and shooting environments just that. Safe and Creative. As a New Orleans headshot photographer I value the role I have in solving your visual problem, give me a call or schedule a consultation soon!

New Orleans Aerial Drone Photography and Video

Sticky
September 9, 2020

It was about 10 months ago I decided it was time to expand my horizons and get my UAS (unmanned aircraft system) license from the FAA. I had recently bought the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and I wanted to legitimately, and legally, offer new services to my New Orleans photography company. The test was tricky but I passed with flying colors, now it was time to practice. I really wanted to get better at flying video maneuvers and understanding my rights and boundaries as a New Orleans drone photographer. No, the same rules do not apply to shooting on the ground! Luckily there are a handful of helpful apps that help you navigate where (and how high) it’s safe and legal to fly.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/454470826
Bayou St. John and Fort St. John Louisiana Landscape video

New Orleans landscapes from 400 feet is quite nice.

I started practicing in St. Bernard Parish, but quickly moved my sights to City Park where I was able to produce a few videos, with music. I have to tell you I am not fully confident in my ability to price out aerial still or video jobs but I am getting pretty close at knowing my abilities. As my drone workflow becomes more habit, and easier to navigate, I will feel more comfortable pricing out jobs and promoting my work. For now, I just want to share my New Orleans aerial video and photography favorites with you!

Pandemic Pivot: Bringing your business online with e-commerce photography

Sticky
August 21, 2020

Pandemic Pivot: e-Commerce Websites Need Great Product Photography!

For some reason, (and by alot of luck) I have always had my eggs in a few baskets. As a freelance photographer in New Orleans, if you want to excel year-round and keep working you have to tap into the region’s multiple markets. Events, parties, photo workshops, business branding (mostly based on semi-predictable marketing budget spending) convention photography and local business branding are a staple of new and continuing client needs. COVID-19 changed all that for me, and everyone else.

I did a few small product jobs, but very important to me and the community. Local jewelry maker, Ashley Porter of Porter/Lyons came by the studio (masks and all!) where I photographed a custom piece for one of her clients.

Luckily I was also able to lean on my photography workshop market to offer online training, consulting, and critiques during March and April. When restrictions eased, I was able to do some small single headshots, and quite a considerable amount of product photography as more businesses are bridging their shops online like never before. In this blog post I’ll talk more about why it’s important to hire a local New Orleans product photographer and share some insight I have gained from these last few months.

WHY USE A PROFESSIONAL PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHER

Traditional brick-and-mortar businesses have been struggling in the wake of city and statewide lockdowns for months. Small businesses are being hit especially hard, so many are choosing to pivot to online sales to make ends meet. Hiring a local photographer for quality product photography will go a long way in readying you to move sales online while usual foot traffic is at an all time low.

NEW AND DIFFERENT COMPETITION 

With many local businesses starting to prioritize online marketing, you may notice that your website no longer holds up to the rising standards of today’s market. Unlike with in-person browsing, customers can now quickly flip between two, or even three, similar businesses online, so visual appeal and user-friendliness is more important than ever. Clean and captivating photos can help your products stand out against similar ones. If given the choice between two products of equal price and quality, customers will almost always choose the one that looks better. So think of hiring a professional as an investment in the future success of your brand.

I just did these ‘stand out’ products for local New Orleans business, Masque Mate. They saw a need during the pandemic, and chose to make a product that people will actually use! I shot them all on a white table, with one light. I cut them out of the background, made layers, and sent them the PNG file w/ the ‘digital white’ background so they all look alike. Check them out – www.masquemate.com

DISTANCE SHOPPING

Non-professional photos may look great at first, but how does the quality hold up when people zoom in? Can they get a detailed look at the material your products are made of? Normally, customers would be able to get up close and personal with your products, but in the time of social distancing and no-touch policies, your website needs to bridge that gap. The quality of your pandemic photography needs to be well above average, 

and you can’t achieve that if your camera and photographer aren’t of professional quality.

FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR ONLINE MENUS

That need goes double for restaurant websites. With restricted dine-in options, gone are the days of customers smelling what’s on the grill or looking at other patrons and thinking “I’ll have what she’s having.” In New Orleans we take our food especially seriously. Our city is universally recognized as a foodie destination, so it would be a shame to have local restaurants fade into the background due to an out of date online appearance. In the absence of traditional olfactory temptations, professional food photography is the best way to get mouths watering over your menus. As a born and raised Louisiana photographer, I know how important it is to capture the culture of both local soul food and the wide varieties of authentic foreign food and contemporary fusion cuisine our city is proud to offer. 

I was lucky enough to photograph Greek Girls Rice Pudding at my Magazine Street studio. Capturing the fine detail and sweet cinnamon overtones of their homemade pudding was visually and olfactory pleasing!

PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY DOUBLES AS INSURANCE

Professional e-commerce photography can be an investment in more ways than one. A detailed, digital catalogue of your inventory can be extremely helpful for insurance purposes should the need arrive. New Orleans is already notorious for hell and high waters threatening homes and businesses on a good year, and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to prepare for everything. If worse comes to worst, product photography can easily double as insurance and save your business from some extra suffering. 

REBRANDING AND RETURNING “REFRESHED”

If you’ve been feeling like your brand needs a bit of a facelift, now is the perfect time to circle the creative wagons and rebrand. COVID-19 has had most of us trapped in our homes for months, and while that can feel more than a little cabin fever-y for some, it has the opportunity to be a much needed chrysalis for your business. In times of economic downturn, its not uncommon for businesses (big and small) to refresh and update some aspects of their brands so they can make a strong comeback. I just did these exciting new images for local brand, The Mocha Collection. (@the_mochacollection)

What better way to revamp your business than updating the quality and style of your website and adding a studio-quality digital catalogue of your goods? Staying fresh in a time of unrest will not only pique customer’s interests, but also help you establish an air of control and resilience in these trying times. 

TWO TONE – WHITE BACKDROP AND ENVIRONMENTAL LIFESTYLE SHOTS

Speaking of control, whether you’re doing environmental product photography or staging against a white background, it’s important that your pictures be clear and consistent. Consistency across your brand creates a sense of unity, and can help reassure customers that you are professional and trustworthy. A professional photographer will be able to recreate the same studio lighting and backdrop for you as needed, and can advise you on the best environmental photography styles for you.  

Professional photographers have several neutral or dynamic backgrounds to chose from that will best enhance your merchandise. White backgrounds are very popular as they don’t distract the viewer and instead draw attention towards the product, but modeled and lifestyle shots are also useful, and if you have a specific vision you want to realize, your photographer can help you do that too. 

FINDING A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER 

If you don’t already know of professional photographers in your area, get on google and start searching or just call me now! 504-251-7745! Even if you do know of some local product photographers, visiting the websites of local photographers can help you choose the best one for your brand. Many photographers will have some galleries of their work on their website, and browsing through these will give you a better idea of whether or not their style fits your vision. If you want to see more of their work, just ask! Send the photographer the specs about your brand, and tell them if you have a specific vision for your merchandise or if you are in need of some professional guidance. 

See more food and product photography from New Orleans photographer Zack Smith https://zacksmith.com/new-orleans-food-product-photography/

COVID-19 CAN’T STOP LOUISIANA CREATIVITY 

Whether you’ve been practicing your arts and crafts during quarantine and are ready to make your etsy debut or you’re an established local business that needs help breaking into e-commerce, improved product photography will give your brand the boost it needs to get to the next level. Having professionally photographed products adds a sense of authority to your business and can give you an edge over your competitors. Even if you’re part of a niche market, better photos means customers will make more confident purchases and are more likely to be happy with the product when they see it in person. Satisfied customers means better reviews and the cycle begins with new customers (and more returning customers too)! 

If you’re ready to boost your brand, or just want more information about it, email me now! 

See what others are saying!

https://business.google.com/reviews/l/16693808727820240370/r/AIe9_BHR7p0hPy1flx1br0TYdEUB57sTH3Ze2XEVYnQlJ-wAAQnNtBvnWC3cF5bUKRPG8vFx7yFt-xzEGIc7A_y0ADujYblHNYzhAYg1Nj2mJ8J8rhu8h5g

One on One with Zack Smith: Photographer Saddi Khali

Sticky
July 21, 2020

A mutual respect and visual kinship have existed between photographer, healer, and storyteller Saddi Khali and I long before I even knew how talented a lensman he was. I am honored to have had this sit down with a genuine human being just being genuinely human. Saddi is doing amazing things with the camera to heal and teach in ways that enlightens me, and hopefully you, to the potential of our shared passion.

https://vimeo.com/440500579

In around 2003 I started to hear about Saddi through a mutual friend, Blake Haney owner of Dirty Coast. Saddi at that time was a local, and popular, poet who frequented the early poetry slam scene in New Orleans. Well, as with everyone in our lives in 2005, Katrina altered your life journey. Since 2005 Saddi has been mobile, wandered, and is considered well world travelled mostly because of his camera…and his words.

See more of his work on his Instagram page: instagram.com/saddikhaliphotos/

The listening photographer is a client's best friend

October 15, 2020

The amount of trust that a stranger puts in a photographer is paramount to sometimes falling back blindfolded – Our pictures do speak for them selves, but it’s the story that happens during the client-photographer relationship that really makes the photos shine.

What starts as a call out in an email, or an inquiry from the website, ends up with an image that someone is proud of that represents who they are in the best way possible. In between is some of my favorite moments where I can learn from that person their hopes, dreams, and vision for the future of their brand and identity.

I’m grateful for the opportunity every day to meet new people and hear new stories and create new images to help so many small businesses in New Orleans – in the last few weeks I have felt a different positivity and the voices in the words of our people and it feels good.

Posting my five star reviews is only easy for me as it illustrates a point. My photos aren’t worth the shutter click if the client’s vision is not achieved – and it’s sometimes worth it to me as a headshot photographer in New Orleans to show you the end result. I could show you all of these business headshots and studio photography final photos, but all you would see is MY perspective of my client. I want you to see my clients perspective of their experience, and thus themselves.

A great review from a client means that I listened, and with each person that puts their trust in me I get better at figuring out the vision inside their head so that I may make it a reality.

Five star review of Zack Smith Photography's New Orleans business headshots.
Zack Smith Photographer actor and model photography services, five star review.

One on One with Zack Smith: Filmmaker Crista Rock

June 20, 2020
https://vimeo.com/431078891

One on One with Zack Smith: New Orleans filmmaker, photojournalist, and muralist Crista Rock! I have been knowing Crista for long time and it was only up until the last few years that I have seen her talent truly shine…where have I been! Well – consider yourself SERVED with creative angles, powerful stories and damn those Converging Lines! Look, Like, and Share!

I have always thought that storytelling through photography is the most powerful medium available to create change and connect with people. In the growing culture of Insgrammers, Twitter-photogs, and Facebook image makers we now have a shortened road from story capture to the audience ingest. The monetary barrier to entry in the digital photography space is getting lower and lower while the quality and resolution of the cameras are increasing. This momentum has leveled off in the last 3 years or so, but camera manufactures keep evolving camera ergonomics, internal image editing feature, wifi abilities and more things that don’t really make us “better” photographers.

As I see this trend continuing, what you don’t see is an exponential increase in talented, seasoned, and humble storytellers. And that’s just how the world works…it takes time to hone your skills, it take hours and hours (Malcom Gladwell says 10,000 hours) to create confidence and become an expert. I think what you have in Crista Rock is an expert in fields of listening, capturing, and delivering the truth. She’s been at it 20+ years and her work is one of a seasoned antennae collecting and delivering stories that help us see ourselves as we are. More please….

One on One with Zack Smith: Photographer Lucius Fontenot

June 20, 2020
https://vimeo.com/416878021

One on One with Zack Smith Photography Episode #1 is in the books…thanks to my buddy and all around one of my favorite photographers Lucius Fontenot. When I say favorite – I mean that – I always look forward to what Lucius is photographing as he is always telling the stories I am interested in and want to hear.

I am doing ZOOM interviews with photographers I want to catch up with and check in on. I hope you enjoy this, share, and visit Lucius’ website (see video!)

One on One with Zack Smith: Macro Photography with David Scarbrough

June 20, 2020
https://vimeo.com/418236146

One on One with Zack Smith Photography #2 is here – Up close (1:1 and 4:1 – haha) with photographer David Scarbrough – BokehNola Photography – and we got into some detail about is stellar macro photography. Look and share!

One on One with Zack Smith: Photographer Kathy Anderson

June 10, 2020

If you live in New Orleans, LA or Orleans, France you have seen Kathy Anderson’s photos…trust me! Kathy is a photojournalist, wedding and portrait photographer who works and creates in New Orleans but her images and stories are seen worldwide.

https://vimeo.com/427775205

Her photographs were the way you saw and felt the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the streets and in our citizen’s lives. Kathy has a way of making people feel at ease, even so much that a litter of kitten’s could just lay on your lap. Her image of Zydeco great Buckwheat Zydeco (Stanley Dural Jr.) being inundated by newborn kittens is one of my favorite musician portraits ever.

It is tough to be versatile AND talented…

Kathy really does it all, does it all with an ease that makes you jealous. When you can “make space” for kings and soothe the wired nerves of a bride on her most important day AND shoot with technical perfection you know this is a recipe for greatness. In my short talks with Kathy over the last few years with the local ASMP chapter, she carries with her an elevated ease of life, and jovial sense of being.

I have always said that being a good person and having a mastery of your camera is the perfect combination for a career in photography, if you choose it. It’s not the most lucrative, it’s hard work, and it’s ups and downs but being a successful photographer is seen in the subjects one captures…and you see that in Kathy’s.

GTMP: How to use Adjustment Brushes in Adobe Lightroom

June 4, 2020
https://vimeo.com/424872014

Sometimes a big sweeping global edit is not the right touch your photo needs. The adjustment brush in Lightroom allows you to make fine tuned and calculated edits to any portion of your image with ease!

I remember the days when Photoshop was all you had to make minor but very important edits to your portrait photography and landscape images. It was tough! With the onset of the automatically updated Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC – you can have such new powerful editing tools at your fingertips.

I used a few of my favorite New Orleans stock photographs to show you how I use Lightroom adjustment brushes to edit. Enjoy!

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