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New Tech Update: New gear and portrait photography during Halloween in New Orleans

November 5, 2019

Me….using my Canon Camera Connect before family portraits on Halloween. I am agreeing with the app.

Me….using my Canon Camera Connect before family portraits on Halloween. I am agreeing with the app.

What better time to try out some new gear than at the greatest portrait holiday ever? Yes you guessed it, Halloween. I don’t know about anywhere else, but in New Orleans we take Halloween seriously. Wether you are going to the store at 6am or picking up your trashcans at 6pm, if it’s October 31st you better be in costume.

Halloween is a feast for the senses, especially for a portrait photographer in New Orleans. Everywhere you go there are some of the most amazing costumes and everyone is acting out their favorite superhero, or not so super super hero right in front of you. What better time to try out some new gear!

Hands on with new gear at Photo Plus and Sony

I recently got back from a trip to Photo Plus in New York where I go to try out many new products from some of the leading photography brands in the world. I had always wanted to attend a photography trade show but my schedule wouldn’t allow. When I found out that Sony was having their Creative Space right across the street, I could’t say no.

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I got to try out the new Sony cameras and shoot at a few of their setups and scenes as well as hear first hand from Sony photographers Miguel Quiles and Brooke Shaden about their creative workflow. I also got to visit the Lensbaby booth at Photo Plus and get some hands on shooting with the Omni Creative Filter System. I liked this pack so much, I bought one and had to try it out for Halloween!

Creative portrait photography and storytelling made easy

I love how easily the lens filter system fits my lens, and the magnetic holders allow you to adjust your selected filter to go hands-free so you can create! Trust me I love my prisms and Get Fractal filters (see more on How To Shoot With Prisms) but I do like how you don’t have to constantly hold them in front of you. Kudos to Lens Baby for thinking of this magnet system.

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After getting used to the prism filter and the other two (you can see which one I like more..) I decided it was time to unleash them on haunted streets of New Orleans.

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Why New Orleans Musician Portraits Matter. Right. Now.

October 8, 2019

Everything good is possible through my viewfinder.

 Guitarist and singer Harry Barton of The New Orleans Johnny’s on Decatur Street. 2019.

Guitarist and singer Harry Barton of The New Orleans Johnny’s on Decatur Street. 2019.

Let’s get political. Political…I wanna get political. Yea, I guess that doesn’t make sense if you don’t sing it to the tune of “Physical” by Olivia Newton John. Go ahead, try it. Does it make you see the same thing I do? No, I don’t see Rep’s n Dem’s with headbands deep into some NOLA-Jazzercise (btw I hate the word NOLA, stop using it now please) vision quest. I see the countless dollars spent by politicians and PACs to flood the TV screens and radio waves with attack ads and polished PR campaigns. As I have been in the ad and commercial photography world for so long I see it for what it is. Repeat the same message and hopefully swing voters forget what they stand for and take on your ideal. Well, I am here to say that the real things that matter is New Orleans music. New Orleans musicians. New Orleans sounds.

Make Portraits Not War. New Orleans Portraits Now.

I can think of a ton of mottos to get me inspired. Right now it’s all about turning off the TV and grabbing some strobes and a camera and taking over the streets, the alleys, the bar rooms of this city and making art. Do you feel sucked in by the negativity? Don’t know where to turn? Listen up…here’s my story: I was so thankful to have the opportunity to photograph The New Orleans Johnny’s for their new press shots last month. Harry Barton had a few ideas but pretty much let me run wild with my imagination on this one, and I went straight old school. Let’s gel a few cans and shoot in the night streets. Yes, you see my lingo, and that’s how I felt. We had a blast on Decatur Street doing portraits while holding up traffic and throwing light all over the block.

Catch the band near you soonhttp://www.neworleansjohnnys.com/

 Prism photography with The New Orleans Johnnys in the middle of Decatur Street, New Orleans 2019.

Prism photography with The New Orleans Johnnys in the middle of Decatur Street, New Orleans 2019.

When in doubt, Jazz Party. Ok?

 Delfeayo Marsalis photographed at his home, New Orleans 2019.

Delfeayo Marsalis photographed at his home, New Orleans 2019.

Over the last few years I have had the privilege to photograph trombonist and band leader Delfeayo Marsalis and his MANY musical projects. The guy is a machine – cranking out quality, fun, and danceable music at a pace seldom seen. As a New Orleans portrait photographer I get my share of gigs that may not feed the soul as much as I want, but a call from Delfeayo ups the ante every time.

 Willie Green, David Pulphus, and Kyle Roussell photographed for Delfeayo Marsali’s “Jazz Party” album

Willie Green, David Pulphus, and Kyle Roussell photographed for Delfeayo Marsali’s “Jazz Party” album

I had the pleasure of photographing portraits and sections of Del’s band and go to meet so many musicians I had only heard about. Willie Green, David Pulphus, Kyle Roussell are a few. All good dudes, sharp, and man…on time! I love that.

Check out Delfeayo’s new album “Jazz Party” out soon! – https://www.dmarsalis.com/

 Terrance Taplin, 2019.

Terrance Taplin, 2019.

 Roger Lewis, 2019

Roger Lewis, 2019

Recent Work from Zack Smith Photography Studio

September 12, 2019

James Martin photographed in the French Quarter. ©Zack Smith Photography 2019

James Martin photographed in the French Quarter. ©Zack Smith Photography 2019

“One Foot in the Swamp…and One in the Street” has been my motto for some time.

It’s been two years since I moved my office out of my home, opened up shop, and hung a shingle on Magazine Street. Having a my photography studio centrally located in such a great spot in New Orleans has been wonderful, minus the drive time from St. Bernard Parish.I have been truly blessed during that time to watch my business grow helping other businesses, brands, people, and artists tell their story in a creative and captivating way. I couldn’t be happier but I really could share more photos with you!

My business has branched out to include more product and food photography along with the steady flow of portraits, headshots, events and workshops. I have an amazing team of editors, photographers, and copy editors who I trust with my life and that trust comes with letting go sometimes…and asking for help. I am having fun with focus stacking, HDR compositing, and doing things out of my normal workflow. I have found that delicate line between balancing the creative and functional photo shoots easier to walk as I continue to have One Foot in the Swamp and One in the Street

I hope you enjoy a few of my favorites over the last few months. I am truly grateful at the trust given to me by so many talented local makers, doers, and creatives. Please check them out and support what they do. I mean, EAT AT THE JOINT MORE!!

 Now that’s a piece of meat. The Joint owner Peter Breen cuts into a slice of brisket.

Now that’s a piece of meat. The Joint owner Peter Breen cuts into a slice of brisket.

New Orleans food photography is tasteful and tasty!

Shooting food photography is truly an art form. I respect those that do it so well around me like Eugenia Uhl, Sara Essex Bradley, and Josh Brasted. I love what they do, and I never gave myself the time or even the opportunity to be open to shoot food. I always felt that a food photographer should be masterful, calculated, and intentional. I mean, I could be all of those things with people, so why not try a piece of meat? A moist but crusty tasty rib or slow pulled pork? I recently jumped at the chance to photograph my friends Pete and Jenny’s amazing New Orleans barbeque spot The Joint in the Bywater. I didn’t even think about it when Pete said he needed portraits, food, and shots of his smoker. I salivated and agreed. Happy I did – we did some creative lighting schemes like backlighting an open smoker, fire, and I got to experiment with focus stacking!

 


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New Orleans headshot photography can be relaxed, confident, and fun for just about anyone.

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Bringing out the best version of a stranger is the ultimate exercise in humility. Not only does my subject bring with them their unique personality traits and expectations, they have their own internal questions, struggles, and apprehension. My job is to cut through any walls that may be put up between us when my camera comes between our conversations. A creative and professional headshot sounds easy but it’s not. Yes – it’s easy to see the real person when you just talk to them, camera at your side. But how can you continue that connections when the lights come on and the lenses are up? I continually strive to be present for them in this situation to bring out the best version of them.

From left to right: Huber, Thomas and Marcelle lawfirm, Jerome Jackson, Cameron Brown

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New Orleans business architectural photography and HDR compositing!

When Jet Design/Build contacted me to photograph interiors and exteriors of their new build out of True Food Kitchen on Julia St I jumped at the chance to try my hand at some multi image High Dynamic Range architectural photography. I photographed each of the photographs above at different times of the day: dawn, mid day, and dusk. I was able to capture the range in tones of a perfect sky but also get some images at night to flood out the interior lights. Creating a multi image composite is not easy task. I used a tripod, marked my positions, and logged my settings so each time of day I came back I could reproduce that composition.

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Photographing New Orleans musicians in the studio and on the streets has always been my happy place.

When local musician James Martin and Joel Jackson of JDV Booking contacted me to talk album artwork I was stoked to say the least. I have always been respectful of the art of demeanor or James Martin since I saw him play with bands through Jazz Fest and French Quarter Fest gigs through the years. His approach to his parts no matter who he was playing with were approached with mastery and power, while off stage you met a kind, low key, direct human. Love that. James was particular about his look, feel, and mood the album artwork, even sending me old LP’s and online examples of the feel he wanted. I love the old 1950’s and 60’s jazz artwork, reminiscent of my former mentor and master, Herman Leonard. I was honored to carry that torch with a new generation of jazz in New Orleans. We did some studio photography then went out at dusk to capture the blue mood of a wet city street. In attempting to capture even more mood, I created a Lightroom filter in James’ honor: Blue Mood James Martin. See it above, and go listen to his music!


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Union Studios in New Orleans is fabricating dreams!

I had the pleasure of hanging out in a hot shed photographing the owners and creators at Union Studios on Broad Street. Daisy and Colin are beginning to make a name for themselves through the fine design, wood work, and fabrication they have done for clients around the city. When client and photographer trust in a vision it is easy for the creative spirit to thrive. We set up multiple scenes at their studio that helped tell the story of what they do from a hands-on textural level to wide view collaborative scenes. I really enjoyed listening to them talk about their client creative process and workflow as we moved around their shop lighting things up!


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What is a gallery without Dirty Coast?!

Long time friends and supporters over at Dirty Coast have always given me the go ahead to get creative at all costs. We recently shot inside some of the most historic landmarks New Orleans has to offer: The Prytania Theatre, Domilises’ Poboys, Peaches Records and 4 parked empty streetcars! We had a blast creating, eating, and making a mess of some great shirts.


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Product photography in New Orleans can bring you to meet some creative souls

Ok so who doesn’t have an online hustle nowadays? Wether it be Amazon, eBay, etsy, Poshmark, or a variety of other online stores the barrier to entry in selling online remains attainable. But the e-commerce owner who wants to bring their store to the highest level must start with excellent photography that stands out in a crowd of competitors. At my studio I am able to convert a portion of my space to create simple and effective product photography, and if I wanted, this could be a steady flow of business for just about anyone. But the thing that attracts me to product photography in New Orleans is that each product someone creates, makes, and puts out there has as story unique like no other. I got to recently work with the amazing folks at the Trombone Shorty Foundation, RIYA, and local milliner (look it up!) Maria Etkind and each person had a conviction and passion they brought to each product. You know, that shows through. Oh, and I shot some diamonds!

Who likes lagniappe?

Here are a few images I have made recently that don’t fit into any business perimeters but still keep me sane and creative. Enjoy and share and KEEP SHOOTING FOR THE WALL!

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Satchmo Summerfest 2019 Photo Gallery: The street speaks on Pop's Birthday

August 12, 2019

This says it all! Torrence Taylor dances with joy, pure joy, at Joe Lastie’s Satchmo set. I mean, JOE LASTIE!

This says it all! Torrence Taylor dances with joy, pure joy, at Joe Lastie’s Satchmo set. I mean, JOE LASTIE!

A New Orleans photographer is at home in the streets

The celebration of the life and music of New Orleans’ favorite son, Louis Armstrong, takes place on his birthday every year. In one full square block there are three stages dedicated to the influence that Satchmo has had and continues to have on the New Orleans music culture. When I say culture I mean the New Orleans music business, New Orleans music creativity, and the continued inspiration of the collective music conscience.

 Norman Thomas, Grand Marshall, Zulu Steppers rolling down Rampart St on August 4th, 2019. ©Zack Smith Photography

Norman Thomas, Grand Marshall, Zulu Steppers rolling down Rampart St on August 4th, 2019. ©Zack Smith Photography

These inspirations were all evident at the 2019 Satchmo Summerfest put on by French Quarter Festivals Inc. Look, don’t get me wrong, the music is amazing, inspired, and well organized. What I am continually blown away by is the Sunday morning second line that stretches from St. Augustine Church in the Treme to the U.S. Mint, kicking off the last day in the best way. It’s downright HOT on this Sunday, and everyone is sweating through their shirts, pants, feathers, fans and suits while dancing.

Please spread this gallery around so all can enjoy! Tag and Share with your friends!I know I am missing some names so if you see someone not credited LET ME KNOW! I am sending the gallery out to the musicians I know that are featured but please share-away! I am so forever grateful for the opportunity to create and document the heart of such a wonderful city, much less be trusted to show the spirit of Louis Armstrong!

SATCHMO FEST – Saturday, August 3rd

(Credits at the bottom)

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Left to Right, Top to Bottom

Cedric Wiley’s son, Kingston sings along with the Treme Brass Band / BennyJones Sr. of the Treme Brass Band / Doreen’s Jazz / Young festival goer / Brad Walker on saxophone, performs with Robin Barnes / Shannon Powell on drums / Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown and Roderick Paulin / Dancers / Joe Ashlar on piano (don’t touch his towel) / drummer Jamal Batiste / Big Six Brass Band / Doyle Cooper plays with no power…and in the rain / AJ on rain patrol / Rain goers tough it out / Banjo player, Seva Venet / French Quarter rain / James Williams / Simon Lott on drums / Ashlin Parker rehearsing backstage / Lafayette Academy band

SATCHMO FEST Sunday, August 4th

 The Zulu Steppers looked amazing at the Satchmo Fest second line, I am so grateful for them in putting this composition together for the shot!

The Zulu Steppers looked amazing at the Satchmo Fest second line, I am so grateful for them in putting this composition together for the shot!

 The Treme Brass Band blows hard, giving props to Sylvester Francis at the Backstreet Cultural Museum.

The Treme Brass Band blows hard, giving props to Sylvester Francis at the Backstreet Cultural Museum.

 This vantage point of TBC Brass Band, Sudan SAPC, dancers and Armstrong Park are my favorite moments to witness and photograph. So much going on, it’s like a one page visual book you can’t put down.

This vantage point of TBC Brass Band, Sudan SAPC, dancers and Armstrong Park are my favorite moments to witness and photograph. So much going on, it’s like a one page visual book you can’t put down.

SUNDAY, August 4th gallery – credits at bottom

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Left to Right, Top to Bottom

Diane Honore Destrehan and the Black Storyville SAPC / Zulu Steppers (need name!) / Benny Jones Sr. / Black Storyville Ladies (names anyone?) Treme Brass Band / Zulu Steppers / HOT Reveler! / Treme Brass Band / TBC Brass Band / Zulu Steppers / Treme Brass Band / Need name of trombone player! / Zulu Steppers / Sudan SAPC greet the entrance of the U.S. Mint / Charlie Halloran / Tim Laughlin’s tribute to Connie Jones / Joe Lastie on drums / Torrence Taylor dances at Joe Lastie’s set! / Ashlin Parker ushers in the next generation with his Trumpet Mafia group.

want more?? SEE SATCHMO 2018 HERE!

The business owner’s ultimate guide to e-commerce and product photography

August 1, 2019

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Sales..OR..Why Hire a Professional Photographer for Product Photography in New Orleans

We’ve all heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but we often do it anyway, and sometimes the cover is the deciding factor in a purchase. The same goes for all products: presentation matters. If you’re an online seller, customers can’t view your product in person, so the quality of your merchandise’s photographs matter too. That’s why it’s worth it to hire a professional to do your product photography, because the difference is noticeable. In our tech-centric world, every business (big and small) needs to be well represented on the internet, and high-quality merchandise photos can catch people’s attention in the kaleidoscope of advertising that is contemporary media. If you’re an online seller, high quality online advertising is the best way to enhance your brand.

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Hiring a local photographer for your product photography is an investment

Customers are more likely to be interested in a product if it has a captivating photograph. Clean and captivating photos can also help your product stand out amongst 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.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY 

Whether you’re doing environmental product photography or against a white background, it’s important that your pictures be clear and consistent. I personally love when a client, like Camelia Beans below, wants to do some environmental lifestyle photography using New Orlenas as a location. There are so many places to shoot!

If some of your photos are taken in different settings or with different lighting than others, your customers will notice, and it will make you seem less organized. 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. That being said, where you’re taking your photos is important too… 

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CONSIDER YOUR SETTING

If you’ve been doing your own product photography, then you’ve had to find your own backgrounds. At best, you’ve been using a plain white tablecloth, and at worst you’ve been photographing your merchandise on your coffee table with your living room in the background. Neither of these are gonna cut it. I’m sure your tablecloth is beautiful, but it might be wrinkled, speckled with dust, or frayed in some places, and your products deserve better than that. 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 and instead draw attention towards the product, but if you have a specific vision you want to realize, your photographer can help you do that too. 

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Are you trying to photograph your own e-commerce photography?

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If right now you’re thinking “I’ve been photographing my own ecommerce products for years, and I think I’ve gotten pretty skilled at it,” let me ask you something: Is your camera of the same quality professional photographers use? If not, you need to change that. Your 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? You want people to be able to get up close and personal with the photos, just like they could if viewing the product in real life, and they can’t do that if your camera isn’t of professional-quality.


I’ve heard enough, I want to talk with Zack about my New Orleans product photography shoot!

Contact me and I will be in touch w/in 24hrs!


THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS

And this isn’t just about camera equipment, many products need unique displays to look their best. Clothing and accessories can be modeled on people, and while it can be helpful to show your product being worn, that shouldn’t be your primary display. Photographing with live models adds another layer of variables to be considered in shooting and editing, so it’s more work to make both the product and the model look their best and harder to achieve the aforementioned consistency. Sure, there are plenty of guides out there for making DIY jewelry displays, but it will be obvious that you did it yourself. Not to mention that jewelry is extremely hard to photograph well due to its reflective nature and small details. The best way to photograph jewelry is with a professional quality lens to show the color and details as clearly as possible and with well crafted studio lighting. Flash photography should try to be avoided as it will cause the foremost pieces of the jewelry to reflect back at the camera with white spots, and the rest of the piece will be severely under-lit. Natural lighting can work well, but it’s unpredictable, and it can sometimes be days before you get the right weather and lighting (especially here in Louisiana). Professional studio lighting is the only way to give your merchandise consistent, quality lighting every time.   

WHY PROFESSIONAL EDITING SKILLS ARE NECESSARY

The best way to enhance your brand is to find a photographer who understands that different products need unique and different lighting to make them appeal to potential buyers and can find the right fit for your needs. Product photography editing can be crucial, but is difficult to do correctly, so getting a photographer who is both skilled in editing and in requiring few edits is key. If your products are made of shiny metal or polished glass then finding a professional is even more important to handle the challenge of getting quality photos of reflective products. Even non-reflective products can be hard to capture well. Sometimes colors come out looking more neon than they should, or the details of a black-on-black product don’t show up at first, but these can be fixed with the editing software professionals will have access to. 

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FINDING A PHOTOGRAPHER 

If you don’t already know of professional photographers in your area, get on google and start searching! Even if you do know of some, 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. 

Wether you’re just starting out on etsy, or you have your own store and are a seller on amazon, 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 not on a popular ecommerce site and have your own website for 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 with the form below!

Contact me and I will respond to you within 24hrs!

New Orleans product photography review!…

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See what others are saying!

 

 

My whirlwind summer day photographing New Orleans boxers: A Gallery and Tutorial

July 17, 2019

Kelvin Brown, Leigh Cordisco, and Delvin “Lump” McKinley photographed at Director Boxing in New Orleans, LA. ©Zack Smith Photography

Kelvin Brown, Leigh Cordisco, and Delvin “Lump” McKinley photographed at Director Boxing in New Orleans, LA. ©Zack Smith Photography

I recently had the opportunity to photograph some promotional portraits and action photography for local boxing promotion company, Swarm Enterprises (https://swarmenterprises.com/), in anticipation of their upcoming bout in New Orleans on September 6th at The Sugar Mill.

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I had always wanted to photograph New Orleans boxers and have photographed a few Friday Night Fights events on Freret years ago. I enjoyed photographing live action boxing, but I never had the chance to craft the boxer’s story using my own strobes, color choices, and creative vision.

CHECK OUT THE BTS AND FINALS IN THIS VIDEO!!!

Bringing my A-game was not an option. It’s required

The folks at SWARM were gracious enough to let me drive the creative ship with some amazing input from them on site. I had never been to Director Boxing on Jackson Street in New Orleans, so I had to be ready for any type of weird artificial lighting that was hanging from this old uptown warehouse.

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Do you have a creative brand driven project you need photography for in New Orleans or Gulf Coast? As a New Orleans photographer and storyteller I would love the opportunity to work with you like I did for Swarm Enterprises. All it takes is an email…

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What strobes and modifiers do you bring to a boxing portrait photoshoot?

In this case I had to bring most of my trusted lights and light modifiers since I didn’t know what to expect. I brought with me my usual Paul C. Buff lighting gear: three Einstein 640w strobes, two large softboxes, one strip softbox, 3 silver 7” reflectors with my grid set which contained a 10º, 20º, 30º and 40º grid. I knew that when shooting boxers, I would most likely be taking photos of athletic young people who took care of themselves and were in peak form.


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Using a smaller more direct light could give me good definition on various muscle groups. (Abs baby abs!!!). I also brought with me my color gel pack as I might want to highlight certain colors and tones that identified with the brands yellow and black colors.

With two small reflectors, as in this shot, I could use it as harsh rim light on the right side of the boxers head and put a yellow gel on the other one and place it behind her aimed at the wall. One large softbox was placed to my right at about 9’ aiming at 45º down at her face.

Creating contours with color and tonal contrasts are surefire ways to give your images dimension and a perceived depth.

This particular image was shot at:

ISO160, f1.8, 1/200, 50mm f1.2


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In this particular image my goal was to create a little bit of action because what good is a boxing portrait session without throwing some punches…and seeing it! I had to turn all of the gym’s lights off so that I could use my shutter speed to slow down the action without soaking in an recording all that ambient light. I used the modeling light of my two side gel reflectors (one yellow, one purple) to provide the necessary ambient light to focus. ISO160, f2.5, 1/13, 35mm 1.4

Please enjoy these images and share! Don’t forget to check out the fight on September 6th in New Orleans!

 Delvin “Lump” McKinley with Martin “Marty” Marino of Director Boxing in New Orleans, LA. ©Zack Smith Photography

Delvin “Lump” McKinley with Martin “Marty” Marino of Director Boxing in New Orleans, LA. ©Zack Smith Photography

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How To Shake A Piano Man's Hand - My Dr. John Remembrances

 Dr. John performs at the 2009 Jazz and Heritage Festival. ©Zack Smith Photography

Dr. John performs at the 2009 Jazz and Heritage Festival. ©Zack Smith Photography

Remembrances of someone you didn’t know on a personal level are just what it says – it’s what you remember. For me, remembering Dr. John has alot to do with my moments with him talking, observing, and photographing him. Each time I had a moment with Dr. John I came away learning something about him, New Orleans, and even about myself. Dr. John’s music, persona, and everlasting mark on our notion of “what is New Orleans” will always be his very own. Never one to take credit for even his name – Dr. John always reminded you that New Orleans music was “latin tinged” and that we were “northern Cuba, Caribbean, and Dominican Republic”.

When anyone stepped up to the microphone of New Orleans to sing and say what they may, it always had the faint whiff of bamboula, tobacco, and rum on it’s tip. Dr. John reminded us of that.

I had photographed Dr. John a few times before I personally met him, having received a call to photograph an original Zulu tribal mud mask for his 2010 album, “Tribal”. I arrived at his house, a little star struck-ness building on the ride over, and gregariously reached out my hand to shake it. Maybe I shoot too hard, my dad taught me right, but the good Dr. recoiled to me and said “hey man, why so hard, just light-like” (or something along those lines) and just put his hand in the air and twiddled his fingers.

 Final album artwork for “Tribal”. Never have I sense handled something so softly…

Final album artwork for “Tribal”. Never have I sense handled something so softly…

After Dr. John and I spoke a bit about the mask and it’s stark significance, he gave it to me to photograph outside. By myself. Dr. John’s Zulu mask. In the days before I recorded EVERYTHING, I was only left w/ that moment alone, with this relic of spiritual heaviness and musical importance. Alone. I look back and wish I would have taken a photo with Mac, or with the mask to help tell this story, but words will have to do. I learned about listening and watching others more, seeing how they want to be received, and not how I receive them…strong hand outstretched eager to pull in a diagnose. It’s about empathy, listening, and after holding that mask for an hour – trust.

 Cyril, Mac, Irma, and Walter. ©2011 Zack Smith Photography backstage at Voodoo Fest 2011.

Cyril, Mac, Irma, and Walter. ©2011 Zack Smith Photography backstage at Voodoo Fest 2011.

It wouldn’t be too much longer after that album shoot that I got to meet Dr. John. In 2011 at my backstage portrait booth at Voodoo Fest I was hurriedly rushed over by my friend Adam Shipley saying “you want THE picture?” Trusting him and not knowing what I was about to get into, I ran with him armed only with my Hasselblad and a 50mm lens. We get to where we’re going and I see the Mount Rushmore of New Orleans music: Cyril Neville, Irma Thomas, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, and Dr. John. I had photographed everyone before and went over to say hello’s, but when I got to Mac, I remembered….raising my hand to greet him I put my palm up and started twiddling my fingers…he laughed, did the same thing to my hands and said “all right man, good to see you”. Made. My. Day.

New Orleans Headshot story of the month: Reve Realtors

May 20, 2019

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Professional Business Headshots in New Orleans the way YOU want them done.

Reve Realtors is a force to be reckoned with in the New Orleans realtor market. I have enjoyed working with Reve and Clint LaCour to produce professional headshots for their entire staff in New Orleans. Through meetings early on, we established a location and lighting theme for their realtor headshots as they would show online and in social media.

Want a New Orleans photographer that understands your brand?

So many businesses in New Orleans have a clear idea of how they want their brand represented, and I am happy to work with them to create their headshots in the way they want. Sometimes a phone call or meeting is required to talk about your brand identity, lighting style, and overall approach to your companies business headshots and lifestyle branding.

 

Jazz Fest Best Photo Gallery : My favorite photographs from the 50th Anniversary

May 17, 2019

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Photographing the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is one of the important markers in life and during the year for me. Some people use New Year’s Eve, their birthdays, even Katrina. (not your ex…) as important markers. I like to use Jazz Fest. Each year photographing Jazz Fest I like to reflect on how I approach the “story” of an event or moment I am documenting. I like to ask myself , “am I seeing the truth of the moment or am I projecting a reality” when photographing such a rich culture. I have to be honest with myself, I approach Jazz Fest now as a visual content marketer for the festival and a humble observer simultaneously. Sure, I’ll ask people to pose for me but I will also make sure they are continually in their element to let their spirit shine.

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This year I was seeing things from a setback perspective. My compositions were starting to include more of the environment and less full frame close up shots as I have done before. I feel this approach was giving me the sense of place of a festival goer, but I was also able to use my Paul C. Buff studio strobes (with the amazing assist of Tamara Grayson) to “blow up the shadows” as I like to say. This year I photographed more artists in their booths and second lines versus live music and musicians. As always if I didn’t credit someone properly PLEASE let me know!

 Askia Bennett - Ole and Nu Style Fellas SAPC

Askia Bennett – Ole and Nu Style Fellas SAPC

Some of my highlights were the powerful and graceful Spencer Bohren’s solo set at the AARP tent, Denzel Abrams, and portraits of friends and artists. I hope you enjoy my visual version of the 50th Anniversary of Jazz Fest where you won’t see alot of live music but you will see some live moments lit in a new and refreshing way. As always – Be in the Moment, Not the Moment…and SHOOT FOR THE WALL!

 ZSMITH-2019-04-26-2982.jpgjazz-fest-photography-zack-smith-music-new-orleans-matthew-holdren-artistArtist Mitchell Gaudet.

Artist Mitchell Gaudet.

 New Wave Brass Band

New Wave Brass Band

 jazz-fest-photography-zack-smith-music-new-orleansRoots of Music

Roots of Music

 Spencer Bohren solo set at the AARP tent. My highlight.

Spencer Bohren solo set at the AARP tent. My highlight.

 jazz-fest-photography-zack-smith-music-new-orleansNinth Ward Mike

Ninth Ward Mike

 Dancin Man 504

Dancin Man 504

 jazz-fest-photography-zack-smith-music-new-orleansThe ICE team!!!

The ICE team!!!

 jazz-fest-photography-zack-smith-music-new-orleansjazz-fest-photography-zack-smith-music-new-orleans@quency_quency

@quency_quency

 jazz-fest-photography-zack-smith-music-new-orleansjazz-fest-photography-zack-smith-music-new-orleansjazz-fest-photography-zack-smith-music-new-orleansjazz-fest-photography-zack-smith-music-new-orleansAJ the BOUDIN MAN

AJ the BOUDIN MAN

 jazz-fest-photography-zack-smith-music-new-orleansOriginal Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club

Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club

 Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club

Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club

 Quite possibly the first female gay wedding at Jazz Fest…was so cool.

Quite possibly the first female gay wedding at Jazz Fest…was so cool.

 Andre Michot, Lost Bayou Ramblers

Andre Michot, Lost Bayou Ramblers

 Matt Rhody

Matt Rhody

 2019 Jazz Fest Poster artist, Scott Guion

2019 Jazz Fest Poster artist, Scott Guion

 Artist, Pilar McCracken

Artist, Pilar McCracken

 jazz-fest-photography-zack-smith-music-new-orleansArtist MItchell Long

Artist MItchell Long

 Lucius Thomson, hawking peanuts for 37 years at Jazz Fest!

Lucius Thomson, hawking peanuts for 37 years at Jazz Fest!

 Original CTC Steppers

Original CTC Steppers

 Askia Bennett- Ole and Nu Style Fellas SAPC

Askia Bennett- Ole and Nu Style Fellas SAPC

 Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave.

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave.

Magazine Street Headshots and Portraits at Zack Smith Photography Studio!

April 24, 2019

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Saturday, May 11th from 5p-9p come to my New Orleans photography studio at 4514 Magazine Street for your FREE fast, furious, fantastic headshot while you sip on complimentary champagne. It’s the Magazine Street Champagne Stroll and you’ll want to be where the bottles, lights, and popcorn is POPPIN’. (seriously I am buying a damn popcorn machine right now…). Since 2001, I have made the streets, sidewalks, and neighborhoods of New Orleans into impromptu and creative portrait shoots, and this will be my most creative yet! I will have multiple backgrounds, lighting schemes, and many many new ways to MAKE YOU SAY CHEESE. ok? Don’t believe me? GO HERE…

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