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New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 50th Anniversary Museum Exhibit!

April 23, 2019

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I am honored to have seven photographs in this unique museum exhibit celebrating “50 years of New Orleans Music and Culture” as Jazz Fest turns 50. Starting in the early 2000’s I enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Relix Magazine and most notably Jambase.com, as they provided a wide outlet to showcase my early editorial photography. My New Orleans photography was able to be featured in both magazines as I was getting my start in the city documenting just about everything. I covered Jazz Fest for Jambase.com from around 2004-2008, and soon after was offered a staff photography position by Jazz Fest in 2009. From 2009-2016 I photographed Jazz Fest with a creative reckless abandon both night and day, going through rolls of film and digital cameras day in day out. As a New Orleans photographer I made precious contacts and kindled long term relationships with so many wonderful people and culture bearers that I keep to this date.

Here’s the press release from Relix.com

This year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will mark the 50th annual iteration of the legendary gathering, and Relix is heading down to Crescent City for a celebration of all things Jazz Fest. Our “50 Years of New Orleans Music & Culture” exhibit at The New Orleans Jazz Museum will feature art and photography from an array of NOLA staples and will host a series of special conversations and events featuring some of our favorite New Orleans-based musicians.

The exhibit will open on April 26, the first Friday of Jazz Fest, and remain at the museum throughout May. The afternoon conversations will kick off on Monday, April 29, with a chat on New Orleans history and music with Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s Ben Jaffe, who also serves as the Creative Director for the band’s namesake building, and writer Walter Isaacson, professor of history at Tulane University and former Chairman/CEO of CNN and Managing Editor of Time Magazine. The following day will feature a presentation from renowned keyboardist/singer-songwriter and longtime New Orleans transplant Jon Cleary, who will offer a musical trip through the history of piano in New Orleans. The series will then wrap up on May 1 with a conversation between two funk icons, Galactic drummer Stanton Moore and legendary Meters bassist George Porter Jr. Relix editors Dean Budnick and Mike Greenhaus will serve as moderators at the events.

Included in the Jazz Museum exhibit will be art and photography from the likes of Michael P. Smith, Sydney Byrd, Danny Clinch, Frenchy, Eric Waters, Clayton Call, Jay Blakesberg, Zack Smith, Scott Saltzman, Dino Perrucci, Marc Millman and Michael Weintrob, along with memorabilia from past Jazz Fests, including a chronological presentation of every official poster from the festival’s five decades.

Relix will also be hosting nighttime events at the museum during Jazz Fest featuring live interviews and panels with iconic members of the New Orleans music and Jazz Fest scene—followed by intimate performances—along with local chefs and mixologists helping to highlight the legendary food and drink culture of the Big Easy.

Read more:https://relix.com/news/detail/announcing-relix-celebrates-50-years-of-new-orleans-music-culture-at-jazz-fest-2019/#ixzz5lvcnYg3U

Best of Fest - 10th Annual French Quarter Fest 2019 Photo Gallery

April 21, 2019

This year marked my 10th year photographing French Quarter Festival for the amazing team at French Quarter Fest Inc. Ten years really does go by fast when you have fun doing your job. I am constantly humbled and honored to be able to be put into the best role to document this one of a kind festival. Being able to be trusted to tell the story of a music festival that is solely centered on Louisiana music is a privilege I cannot understate. Each year that goes by I get better and more efficient at seeing the magic before it happens and being in the right spot for it. After all these years I know the times, locations, and light patterns of the French Quarter in the 2nd week of April like no one else does…and that feels good to have the camera ready!

For years I have enjoyed bringing you this gallery of my BEST OF FEST – so enjoy and spread the link if you like what you see! These images are for your enjoyment only – feel free to share THIS LINK to share the joy. If you see yourself in any of these images let me know, and I’ll send you a copy! No images may be used to promote any 3rd party services or businesses.

** BIG UPS to Stephen MacDonald for carrying a Paul C Buff Einstein, beauty dish, and battery for 2 days straight! I couldn’t light up those shadows without ya!

 The Kinfolk Brass Band led the opening day Second Line to start the 36th Annual French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

The Kinfolk Brass Band led the opening day Second Line to start the 36th Annual French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

I love shooting the opening day second line. Each year at least 4 brass bands pepper the streets of the French Quarter blowing loud and proud. This year the talented Kinfolk Brass Band led the charge down Bourbon Street, straight to the heart of Jackson Square. Each year I challenge myself to get a new angle, a new look, or a new story in the often over shot French Quarter. As a New Orleans photographer who has shot brass bands and the French Quarter so many times, the goal here is to keep challenging myself to find ways to showcase the moment for my client, but also find a new layer of light, color, and expression of joy in the same frame.

 ZSMITH-2019-04-11-9551.jpg The low rising sun can be troublesome shooting down the blocks of Bourbon Street. Though it’s nice to find it bouncing off fresh polished cymbals and horns. ©Zack Smith Photography

The low rising sun can be troublesome shooting down the blocks of Bourbon Street. Though it’s nice to find it bouncing off fresh polished cymbals and horns. ©Zack Smith Photography

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Tips on shooting outdoors in alternating light conditions

As I am making this post I thought I would throw in a little “how to photograph light” section. Bare with me photo lovers, this is for the learners…Each block during this second line presents it’s individual challenges. When the parade starts at 10am-ish, the sun is just high enough above the horizon to shine light down each cross street of Bourbon, all the way until the parade turns at St. Peter (or sometimes St. Ann, depending on which police officer you ask that day). At the “turn street” you get some of the most magical shots since the light on the band is warm and golden while the background houses and blue sky are lit up perfectly by the sun. Your challenge until then is to go back and forth on exposures to prioritize your subject. Once you get the hang of it you can actually sink back into photographing and not thinking too much!

 Light beaming through the streets of New Orleans has it’s challenges, and then again has it’s rewards. ©Zack Smith Photography

Light beaming through the streets of New Orleans has it’s challenges, and then again has it’s rewards. ©Zack Smith Photography

A New Orleans photographer in his wheelhouse

My tenth year shooting French Quarter Fest was not really known to me until I started doing this blog post. But as I walked around this year there was a heightened sense of nostalgia mixed with purpose. I was set on getting to certain stages and areas when the light was perfect while hitting my marks and clearing my shot lists. I made sure that I was at Dwayne Dopsie’s set towards the end as I knew he’d go out into the crowd. I showed up late to Bruce Daigrepont, but I was able to lineup a sweet backstage portrait. This year I made the most of every opportunity wether I showed up early or late to a set, I was there in the moment and that’s all that counted. Catching a soundcheck can be just as glorious as the set itself…

 Preservation Hall Brass open Day One at the French Quarter Fest Hilton stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

Preservation Hall Brass open Day One at the French Quarter Fest Hilton stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

 Glenn Hall Jr and Lil Glenn and Backatown opened up the Tropical Isle stage on Thursday. This was also my 10th year photographing this talented soul!

Glenn Hall Jr and Lil Glenn and Backatown opened up the Tropical Isle stage on Thursday. This was also my 10th year photographing this talented soul!

 Washboard Chaz and The Tin Men setup to play at the GE Capital Stage on Day One. ©Zack Smith Photography

Washboard Chaz and The Tin Men setup to play at the GE Capital Stage on Day One. ©Zack Smith Photography

 One of my favorite compositions: Band + Crowd + Riverboat + Blue Sky. Tin Men open up the day at the GE Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

One of my favorite compositions: Band + Crowd + Riverboat + Blue Sky. Tin Men open up the day at the GE Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

 Artist and Designer Ashley Porter poses inside her Mirror House at French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

Artist and Designer Ashley Porter poses inside her Mirror House at French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

 Cha Wa perform at the Abita Stage at French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

Cha Wa perform at the Abita Stage at French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

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Photographing Friends, photographing new orleans

If you live here long enough and document the music culture of New Orleans, you make some friends along the way. Photography becomes personal and almost takes on the feeling of a “family photo” as you document the same creative souls year-in year-out. You watch their evolution and joy through the center of your lens like a movie unfolding in front of your eyes. Your only hope is to do them equal visual justice to the sounds they’ve given you over the years.

 Cajun musician Bruce Daigrepont poses backstage for a quick portrait. ©Zack Smith Photography

Cajun musician Bruce Daigrepont poses backstage for a quick portrait. ©Zack Smith Photography

 Jon Cleary plays to a packed French Quarter as he closes out Day One at the Chevron Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

Jon Cleary plays to a packed French Quarter as he closes out Day One at the Chevron Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

 Galactic closes out the Abita Stage during their first appearance at French Quarter Fest! ©Zack Smith Photography

Galactic closes out the Abita Stage during their first appearance at French Quarter Fest! ©Zack Smith Photography

French Quarter Fest Day One was a wrap! Here’s a few more pics!

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day two of French Quarter fest: longer days means more moments

Day one of shooting any music festival is what I call “getting my festival legs”: my goal is to find ways to stay on target with my shot list while being creative, walking fast and effective, as well as staying hydrated. Here are some of my favorites from Day 2 – festival legs and all.

 kinfolk-brass-band-zack-smith-new-orleans-photographer-french-quarter-festTorrence Taylor dances at Joe Lasties’ set, giving bow to a beautiful soul and crushing drummer! ©Zack Smith Photography

Torrence Taylor dances at Joe Lasties’ set, giving bow to a beautiful soul and crushing drummer! ©Zack Smith Photography

 Drummer Joe Lastie is all smiles, as he usually is! If you don’t know Joe - GO SEE JOE! ©Zack Smith Photography

Drummer Joe Lastie is all smiles, as he usually is! If you don’t know Joe – GO SEE JOE! ©Zack Smith Photography

 Chance Bushman of the NOLA Jitterbugs gives his daily swing dance lessons as he does so effortlessly! ©Zack Smith Photography

Chance Bushman of the NOLA Jitterbugs gives his daily swing dance lessons as he does so effortlessly! ©Zack Smith Photography

 Audacity Brass Band tore it up at the new LA Fish Fry Stage at the U.S. Mint. ©Zack Smith Photography

Audacity Brass Band tore it up at the new LA Fish Fry Stage at the U.S. Mint. ©Zack Smith Photography

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So many moments, so many faces! Seen here in the gallery below are: Haruka Kikuchi, Wendell Brunious, Roger Lewis and Percy Ellis, Delfeayo Marsalis and Brice Miller, drummer Paul Thibodeaux, Gal Holiday, Brice Miller and Brice Miller Jr., Jeffrey Broussard.

 Quiana Lynell performs at the Hilton Stage, and cracks her own band up in the process! Such a powerful new voice in jazz! ©Zack Smith Photographyn n nn n n

Quiana Lynell performs at the Hilton Stage, and cracks her own band up in the process! Such a powerful new voice in jazz! ©Zack Smith Photography

 kinfolk-brass-band-zack-smith-new-orleans-photographer-french-quarter-festSunpie Barnes closes out the Chevron Stage. You can ask him too…it was definitely feeling a bit like summer that day. ©Zack Smith Photography

Sunpie Barnes closes out the Chevron Stage. You can ask him too…it was definitely feeling a bit like summer that day. ©Zack Smith Photography

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grammy winners Lost Bayou ramblers close out in blue hour…

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day three of French quarter fest: let the crowds get cozy…

Saturday of festival usually means that everyone is off of work, kids are out of school, and the French Quarter is the city’s second home. The lawn chair and blankets create a landscape that cover the festival grounds like a patchwork maze while the kids play tag and weave in and out of food and drink lines. For a photographer trying to cover alot of ground, you have to make use of your time photographing the moments when you get it. Alot of your day is spent walking, dodging, and just plain “cutting through” the crowds.

 Trumpeter and bandleader Desmond Venable lead students and fire up the crowd. ©Zack Smith Photography

Trumpeter and bandleader Desmond Venable lead students and fire up the crowd. ©Zack Smith Photography

 Will Smith serenades with the Storyville Stompers Brass Band. ©Zack Smith Photographyn n nn n n

Will Smith serenades with the Storyville Stompers Brass Band. ©Zack Smith Photography

 Chance Bushman and the Ibervillianaires had the swing dancers swinging early at the Traditional Jazz Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

Chance Bushman and the Ibervillianaires had the swing dancers swinging early at the Traditional Jazz Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

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 Bryan, Louis, and Kirkland are seen lugging their gear to the Michot Melody Makers set. Hard workers. (Period) ©Zack Smith Photography

Bryan, Louis, and Kirkland are seen lugging their gear to the Michot Melody Makers set. Hard workers. (Period) ©Zack Smith Photography

Festival Moments from an action packed Saturday

Cyril Neville, Dwayne Dopsie, Mia Borders, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, “Bangkok Swing” dancers, Paul Lafleur

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 Dwayne Dopsie and Paul Lafleur get low into the crowd for one of the greatest send off’s ever on Saturday. ©Zack Smith Photography

Dwayne Dopsie and Paul Lafleur get low into the crowd for one of the greatest send off’s ever on Saturday. ©Zack Smith Photography

 Flow Tribe close out Saturday night’s festival at the Chevron Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

Flow Tribe close out Saturday night’s festival at the Chevron Stage. ©Zack Smith Photography

Day four french quarter Fest: The big finish of festival

Sunday is sometimes just another day. But for me, the last day of a festival is your last chance to tell the story by any means necessary. You walk from the Aquarium to the U.S. Mint and back all day if you have to. Just get get the shot, and finish big.

 Maggie Koerner performs at French Quarter Fest amongst a sea of fans and the Mississippi River. ©Zack Smith Photography

Maggie Koerner performs at French Quarter Fest amongst a sea of fans and the Mississippi River. ©Zack Smith Photography

 Drummer Simon Lott performs with Jesse Morrow on Royal Street in one my favorite music moments of my 10 years shooting French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography (below: Brad Walker and Jesse Morrow)

Drummer Simon Lott performs with Jesse Morrow on Royal Street in one my favorite music moments of my 10 years shooting French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography (below: Brad Walker and Jesse Morrow)

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 Brice Miller brings joy and funk to his set at French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

Brice Miller brings joy and funk to his set at French Quarter Fest. ©Zack Smith Photography

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Anthony and Rockin’ Dopsie always make people dance and get up! Great seeing these consummate performers! ©Zack Smith Photography

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that’s a wrap! looking back at four days of hustle and creativity.

Being in the right time in the right place sometimes takes, well, ten years and sometimes more. Pictured above is Debbie Davis, the Daquiriu Queens, Maggie Koerner and Jason Jurzak in their zone, in the place that they shine. Oh, and the Lucky Dog shot? I don’t know, it’s just so….New Orleans right? There were shots that I anticipated this year, and some shots I downright just missed. What often helps me get over that is just enjoying the moment where I’m at and making the most of what is in front of me, cause you are always missing something amazing! I hope you enjoyed this gallery! Please share and credit the culture!

 Rockin Dopsie mid air in a full split? One of my “bucket list” shots…done. What a performer and all around great dude. ©Zack Smith Photography

Rockin Dopsie mid air in a full split? One of my “bucket list” shots…done. What a performer and all around great dude. ©Zack Smith Photography

 Tired photographer post-fest with gear. Photo by Matt Owens.

Tired photographer post-fest with gear. Photo by Matt Owens.

Helpful Tips for Shooting In Low Light Without a Tripod

April 17, 2019

Best practices of how to photograph in low light without a tripod

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As a professional photographer and even a hobbyist, you’ll often need to take photos in extreme low light conditions. And as if that were not enough; sometimes you even have to shoot without a tripod. I have always said that my favorite time of year is right around daylight savings time when the fog creeps up from the Mississippi River and low swamp lands. I love March, especially since we can get more chances to shoot the city in this wonderful golden hour photography since the sun doesn’t set at 5pm anymore!

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Want to know how I got these Firework shots? Take my class…go HERE to learn How to Photograph Fireworks in New Orleans!

As you find yourself shooting outside more and more, you might find yourself leaving the house without some important photography tools! Maybe you’re in the middle of a the French Quarter with no space for a tripod or in a location where tripods are not allowed. Or perhaps, you don’t want to let your tripod draw unwanted attention when photographing musicians or street documentary.

In any case, low light photography without a tripod is challenging but definitely not impossible. After years of shooting without one (I STILL DON’T LIKE TO!) Here are the best practices of low light photography without a tripod.

What is ISO and how to use it in low light

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ISO is an important tool in every photographer’s arsenal, but you need to know when to leverage it. In low light conditions, for instance, you can increase your camera’s ISO to make the camera’s sensor more sensitive to light. That way, your camera will need less light to make a good exposure. You will also be able to hand hold at faster shutter speeds, thus decreasing the risk of shake from hand holding the camera.

One downside to this trick is that raising the ISO too high could affect the sharpness of your image. The higher the ISO, the more “noise” will affect your image.  That means you should have a fair idea of the maximum acceptable ISO value for your camera in low light conditions. This needs some practice, and some research. I would recommend photographing different low light scenes at all of your ISO’s up to the expanded numbers as well just to see what effect they have. Don’t just look at the back of your camera! You should download the test images to your computer and view there!

In my last 15 years teaching photography I have seen so many cameras, and it’s a good idea to start at ISO 800. Most cameras will capture good photos at ISO 800 in low light conditions, but if you raise your ISO beyond 800 or 1600, the image could start to get noisy. So know your camera’s acceptable limit and adjust the ISO setting accordingly.

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How to use aperture settings in low light

Who doesn’t love that blurry bokeh? Using a wider aperture means you’re letting in more light to your lens, which is ideal for low light photography. To that end, consider using a fast lens. The faster the lens, the larger is its maximum aperture.

For instance, invest in a prime lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.8 or f/0.95. If you’d use a 300mm lens, then look for one with a maximum aperture of f/2.8.

Also, a faster lens allows you to use faster shutter speeds in low light conditions, which means you’ll have more leeway to shoot without a tripod.

But when you’re shooting at f/1.8 or f/2.8, remember that you’ll have a narrow depth of field. Make sure you’re focusing on the most important part of your frame rather than trying to keep everything in focus.

How to use a speedlight as fill flash

Imagine your scene has some ambient light, but not enough to properly illuminate your subject. So the background is fairly bright, but your subject is shaded. In situations like this, you can use a speedlight as your fill light to fill in the dark shadows on your subject.

But balancing the flash light with the ambient light could be a challenge (more on this later). A strong front flash could overpower the background ambient light, making your subject look flat and overly bright against a dark background.

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But you don’t want to kill the natural look in your photo. You just want to add some fill light to your subject in the foreground. Here are some ways you can soften your fill flash.

  • Bounce your flashlight against the ceiling or wall, rather than aiming it directly towards the subject. You can also use a reflective card for the purpose.

  • Use a diffuser on your Speedlight to reduce the harshness of your flashlight   

  • Switch from TTL to manual flash mode to gain more control over the intensity of your flashlight.  

  • Dial down the flash exposure compensation to -0.8 or lower.

When to “drag the shutter” and how to use it!

When using fill flash in low light conditions (like in the above example), dragging the shutter has two benefits.  

  1. It helps balance the flash light with the ambient light.

  2. It allows you to create a motion effect in your photos.

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The shutter drag technique is based on a simple fact that when you change your camera’s shutter speed, it makes an impact on your ambient exposure but doesn’t affect your flash exposure. That’s because the flash operates much faster than your camera’s shutter.  

In other words, you can control your flash and ambient lights separately in the same shot. For instance, if you drag the shutter from 1/60th to 1/30th, you’ll get a brighter background, but the flash exposure on your subject in the foreground will remain the same.

This helps you balance flash light with ambient light, simply by adjusting your shutter speed. Ideally, you should first set exposure for the ambient light, and then add some flash fill and adjust your settings accordingly – rather than the other way around. This takes practice…so get out there!

Dragging the shutter often introduces a motion blur at the edges of your subject when you are working with a shutter speed of 1/10th of a second or slower. You can use this technique intentionally to create a sense of movement in your photos. When marching or walking the same speed as your subject (like the Tulane Green Wave Band during Mardi Gras) you can use your movements to create motion but you have to make sure you are going the SAME SPEED as your subject!

Like these tips? Help me spread the word and pass them on! Share this page and stay in touch!

 

Mardi Gras 2019 through the eyes of a child, the City is anew...

March 6, 2019

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Being able to enjoy New Orleans and Mardi Gras through the eyes of my daughter has been an amazing and humbling experience. With an unbounded curiosity, fearless joy, and child-like surprise – I am able to enjoy a celebration I once felt I was done with. I thought I was done and had experienced it all: the long late nights turned morning, Mardi Gras Indians in backstreets of the city, pre-dawn Skull and Bones, and the revelry and abandonment of cares and responsibility. As that chapter closed in my life, a new one has begun, and the wonder was back just like that.

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We caught the beginning of the Krewes of Saint Anne and Saint Cecelia and a truly magical moment when heading home.

Mardi Gras has become to mean so many different things to me over the years, but this year a very special moment happened that I was so happy to have my camera for. .

As Big Chief Alphonse “Dowee” Robair and the 9th Ward Black Hatchett Hunters pose for a big group shot over the 9th Ward canal, I could see my friend and legendary photographer Eric Waters directing through the colors and mayhem. People were shouting, car horn’s were honking, boats were waiting to get through as the Indians made time to sit still for an epic photo be made.

I hope you enjoy these photos of our adventure through the Bywater with the Krewe of Saint Anne and St. Cecelia, and our wonderful meeting with the Big Chief!

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 ZSMITH-IMG_8264-20190305.jpgn n nn nn n n n nn nnnnn nn n n n n n n ZSMITH-IMG_8387-20190305.jpgCarlo Nuccio, Doug Garrison, and Anthony Cuccia - the greatest drumline of any parade!

Carlo Nuccio, Doug Garrison, and Anthony Cuccia – the greatest drumline of any parade!

 Jan Beignet Ramsey…oh boy!

Jan Beignet Ramsey…oh boy!

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Big Chief Alphonse “Dowee” Robair and the 9th Ward Hatchett Indians, formerly of CTC post at the 9th Ward Industrial Canal bridge.

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Medical Residency headshots made easy in the Big Easy

February 26, 2019

My New Orleans Medical Residency Headshot Workflow

Having a professional headshot when working in the medical residency industry or applying for a program is vital to being chosen and accepted. At Zack Smith Photography, I get many requests for Medical Residency and Residency Application headshots and I love using the folks at Fix The Photo FixThePhoto to aid me in my editing workflow.

What to edit when working with Medical Residency headshots?

Did you know on average you are 10 times more likely to be chosen if you have a good-looking headshot image? On the example of two professional headshots taken at my studio, I did the color correction editing before I sent them to Fix the Photo for hair fly away and backgrounds. Their main purpose is to offer high-quality and affordable headshot photo editing services to all medical residency candidates to help make their chances of landing their dream residency higher.

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I have enjoyed a long-time working relationship with Fixthephoto.com, and their editor’s level of expertise is unmatched. My business is located in Uptown New Orleans, Louisiana and there is no shortage of clients that are looking for the perfect headshot to promote their brand and business. I have recently sent a lot of my Medical Residency headshots to Fixthephoto to help with hair flyaways and skin retouching. A well-crafted and professional headshot is the first impression a potential employer sees of these medical students and I need the photos to look their best.

Medical Residency Headshot Photo Editing Tips for Beginners

It’s vitally important for you to show confidence, intelligence, and approachability in your headshot. These first impressions about you are being made in 1/10th of a second, so make sure your headshot is of high quality. Usually, your headshot is shown on a large monitor in front of a group of people, so it should be saved in high resolution and without distracting flaws. Having a headshot without professional lighting and a white background can seriously make your photo of low quality.

First of all, a white background or light grey background is always an advantage for placing your headshot on websites or attaching to documents. It allows you to concentrate the attention of viewers completely on you. You should remove all unnecessary objects from the background and yourself. Another useful photo editing step is cropping. The second important step is photo color correction. Tones and hues play a vital role in headshot photo editing and you should adjust the white balance, contrast, and brightness settings to make your headshot look perfect. It also helps remove unnatural skin color and makes white color realistically white. If necessary, you can also do skin retouching: remove blemishes, reddish spots, etc. Frequency separation in Photoshop is the best method to make natural but perfect skin texture.

As you work with a portrait, you should make eyes bright, teeth white, remove flyaway hair/add volume, add digital make-up (be careful with this step), make glasses glare correction or even body/face reshaping. Another important action is to make clothes smooth. This may seem like alot to do and think about, but at Zack Smith Photography studio I

After doing headshot photo editing, don’t forget about the photo format and its specifications. Last but certainly not least, make sure your headshot conforms to the website/document specifications!

New Orleans Business Headshot of the Month: Ryan Rogers

February 22, 2019

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Ryan Rogers is a realtor at Reclaimed Realty NOLA, and actually a long time friend. Ryan recently approached me about collaborating and producing some new and unique business headshots for his website and social media. Being that Ryan wanted to show different sides of his personality, we decided to do both photographs at my studio at 4514 Magazine, then head over to do some more “environmental” portraits at the Auction House NOLA in the Warehouse District. Here’s a quote from Ryan that I like, and I hope you look him up when buying a home in New Orleans!

“I take my clients and my profession as a Realtor seriously. It is a very big responsibility guiding first-time buyers through the uncharted waters of their first home purchase or helping real estate investors make difficult decisions and so I never take that responsibility lightly. I’m not an uptight guy, I provide a casual friendly service. I am a facilitator helping buyers and sellers make informed choices while giving them perspective.”

Photographing Mardi Gras in New Orleans with the Krewe of Chewbacchus

February 12, 2019

In my 5th year photographing the amazing Chewbacchus parade, I don’t think I have seen this many people in the parade and along the parade route. I can only expect that they broke records in krewe attendance and parade watchers. The streets of the Marigny and especially Frenchmen St. were packed 5 and 6 rows deep with people gawking at the sci-fi themed parade. I slimmed down my gear for this parade and only brought my Canon G7x – and here are a few of my favorite shots.

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Travel photography tips from Zack: How to fly with an entire photo studio and not get caught!

January 30, 2019

Here I am at the San Juan airport with my entire photo studio, cameras, and clothes!

Here I am at the San Juan airport with my entire photo studio, cameras, and clothes!

Traveling in 2019 can be stressful, even if it’s for a well needed vacation. Traveling with your entire photo studio for work can be down right catastrophic if you don’t prepare and think ahead. I hope my recent international headshot photo shoot can help you learn some tips on how to travel with your photography equipment in a safe and inexpensive way.

How to properly travel with your gear can be tricky, so how do you fly with all that photo gear?

I recently had the pleasure of traveling again to photograph a long time client’s conference. In my third year of this relationship me and my team have photographed their conferences in New Orleans, LA, Austin, Texas, and most recently San Juan, Puerto Rico. Each conference is a 4-5 day conference and event documentary job while shooting multiple days of business headshots that range from 40 – 200 people.

Being able to execute the convention and photography duties in New Orleans was easy since that is where my business is based. I was able to have my studio open and ingesting each days shots to send out daily edits to the company marketing team, as well as being able to load in and setup the conference head shot station with ease.

All of my necessary headshot lighting gear fit nicely in this Pelican 1660 case.

All of my necessary headshot lighting gear fit nicely in this Pelican 1660 case.

Traveling to Austin for the 5 day conference was a bit tougher, but with the proper resources I was able to make it very easy for my photography workflow. I brought with with me only my Paul C. Buff Alien Bees, pocket wizard remotes, and cables. Since Austin is a bustling creative capital city, I rented light stands, sand bags, and a full studio background kit with a grey seamless roll. I rented the gear from a local rental house and they were able to deliver and pickup the gear to the hotel we were shooting at.

If you are traveling for a photoshoot and can expense local gear rental to your client, I would highly suggest that. Considering that local rental rates for limited gear can sometimes be equal to the cost of an oversize and overweight checked gig bag! Either way, you will pay for the gear, so why not reduce the wear and tear on your own gear (and your back!) and rent photography grip gear in the city you are shooting.

Headshots are easy at my studio but knowing how to properly pack for travel is a whole other deal!

Most recently my client brought their conference to the amazing city of San Juan, Puerto Rico. I was very excited at the opportunity to photograph Puerto Rico as I had never been before. Puerto Rico is such a beautiful island and the people are hospitable and kind. I was looking forward to the “day of service” the conference attendees would do in the rural beach community of Yabucoa. Yabucoa is still recovering from Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Hurricane Maria is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record to affect the island and was the deadliest storm of 2017. 

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After searching for a few photography rental studios in San Juan and coming up short,, I realized that my options were to rent from a local photographer or bring my own. Trusting my instincts and ready for a challenge I decided to figure out how to travel with my studio lighting kit and be ready for headshots and conference documentary in another country.

How do I know what gear to check and what photography gear to carry on the airline?

It is wise to check with your airline about their size and weight restrictions on checked bags. I was in the clear to pack my entire travel photo studio into a secure hard case Pelican Case. (more on that later)

 Here is the studio setup and looking great!n n nn n n

Here is the studio setup and looking great!

 I always carry on my camera bodies, lenses, batteries, memory cards (in a hard case), portable hard drives and laptop. I am currently using and loving my camera bag from ONA with it’s ability to hold 2 Canon Mark IV’s, 70-200 2.8, 16-35mm 2.8, 24-70mm 2.8, my 15” MacBook Air, and other related gar. The bag fits nicely in my overhead or under my feet while flying.

 Keep all of your receipts! All of them! Even if it’s oversize it’s good to know what it costs.

Keep all of your receipts! All of them! Even if it’s oversize it’s good to know what it costs.

A few weeks before my trip I went on Amazon.com and bought 3 studio light stands where the legs collapsed up, thus reducing their size to fit exactly in the Pelican Case. I also purchased a foldable light grey backdrop disc and stand that also fit into the Pelican Case with ease. I cut out snug spaces in the foam inserts of the case to fit: 3 Einstein strobes, cables, extra strobe bulbs, transmitters and backup batteries for all. Remember when you arrive at your final destination any oversized cases will be waiting for you at the oversize counter and not the general baggage carousel.

Knowing that my entire studio could fit in one case was awesome! I was ready to fly, but was I protected?

Photographing and traveling domestically is easy right? But when do I get travel insurance and when do I know I am protected? Travel insurance is a must have for most travelers. From cancelled flight reimbursement to general liability insurance you can get what you need to feel protected. Lucky for me I was flying and shooting in a U.S. Territory so my existing health insurance as well as my business insurance package would carry over to any incident incurred while on my shoot in Puerto Rico. Before traveling out of the country for your next photo shoot I suggest contacting your issuing insurance agent to ask them of any coverage you may need.

 My backyard vibes for the week…not bad!

My backyard vibes for the week…not bad!

Proper preparation before my international photo shoot was vital in the planning phase of my trip. By visualizing what I needed for my headshots and my day to day shooting, I was able to plan, pack, and travel with a good feeling.

I hope this information on how to pack for your next international photography assignment was helpful and if it was, please share this blog post!

 

GEAR:

Pelican Case

3 – Light Stands

Foldable Background and Stand

3 – Paul C Buff Einstein strobes

Cybersense and remotes

Empty Grip Bags (sandbags)

Photography Storage Workflow Chronicles: Finding the Photo in the Haystack

January 17, 2019

I had a client recently want some photos we took that spanned an entire decade. How do I locate photographs I did that aren’t currently connected to my computer? This question and more are answered as we deep dive into HARD DRIVE TRUTHS.

Ok, I am kidding a little but this is a real situation that is happening now and I thought I would make a video to share with you. Enjoy!

How to get the sun to starburst in your photos!

January 7, 2019

You’ve seen those amazing landscape photographs of someone you are following on instagram and you can’t get that starburst your of your head. How do you get the sun to starburst and make it look like a star?

Sun starburst techniques are very easy!

To achieve a proper sun star burst photography effect you need to stop down your aperture to at least 16 or lower. Setting your aperture to f22 would be an ideas pace to start. Since the unencumbered (nothing blocking it) bright sun is what you want to affect, you probably have a bright sunny day to work with so shooting at f22 will allow your shutter to be safe to shoot at around 1/320 or 1/125. I know this because I am basing this exposure on the Sunny 16 Rule. Don’t know what the Sunny 16 Rule is? Well head to this quick link to find out!

CLICK to learn the Sunny 16 Rule! ——->

 I shot this sun starburst at Crescent Park in New Orleans! I shot this sun starburst at Crescent Park in New Orleans!

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