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2018 The Year in Pictures - What made this year so memorable?

December 28, 2018

2018 was a very special year in photography for me. As my business grew so did the new experiences both up and down. Every photo shoot I did this year was met with a new outlook as I challenged myself to find the good in each moment and learn from each experience. I met countless realtors, lawyers, artists, business owners, families, models, and entrepreneurs. My goal this year was to be able to grow my business and studio on Magazine Street and at the same time, keep my creative impulses satiated and continue to make new artistic collaborations. At the same time my New Orleans photography workshop offerings continued to fill and bring in new curious minds wanting to know how to photograph their world with creative confidence. I am grateful for all those who have helped me keep my businesses going as a photographer, teacher, and consultant. I want to thank all of my family, friends, and assistants for supporting me on long days on the job, out of town, and on the hustle. These photos are for you. Enjoy my favorite people, places, and moments of 2018.

Storytelling 2018: A year of portraits in New Orleans

Focus on the eyes and you can see the soul…I feel that capturing the best version of someone can’t be done without some background knowledge of who they are, what their dreams are, and what they want to achieve. Any portrait I do involves some homework to produce an image that works for my client and that I feel proud out.

Selling the Brand 2018: A year of Commercial Photography in New Orleans

“Using photography to help a brand sell a product or service”. That’s how I like to define commercial and brand photography. I have enjoyed meeting so many driven and inspired business owners while helping them create their visual identity. Here are some of my favorite commercial photo shoots from 2018.

Singing for your Supper 2018: Music and Festival photography

I was truly blessed to be able to be around such amazing music, musicians, and culture bearers in 2018. As my business steered towards headshots and branding, I never lost the focus and connections that got me to where I am today. Being able to photograph Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest and continue to be involved in the creative energy of New Orleans humbles me to the bone.

Year of the New Orleans Headshot 2018: Face is the place!

Since opening my headshot studio at 4514 Magazine Street in New Orleans I haven’t spent this much time uptown since I lived on Jefferson in 2003! I love making the commute to work and meet the movers, shakers, and creators of this city!

These are a few of my favorite things 2018: Behind the Scenes!

As much as the portraits and branding have kept me busy this year, I still have time to photograph the things I love. My family, nature, and those random moments are always in my sight as I try to keep the balance between work and life. Here’s to pursuing YOUR dreams and making what you love be what you do in 2019!

Great Family Photography Techniques for the Best Holiday Portrait Ever!

December 21, 2018
 The Rhein family photographed at Audubon Park in New Orleans. 2018 Zack Smith Photography

The Rhein family photographed at Audubon Park in New Orleans. 2018 Zack Smith Photography

Want to know how you can take relaxed natural light family holiday portraits this season?

So I know the situation you are in. It’s the holidays, it’s stressful, you are busy, but you have this rare moment when your entire family is not only in the same state…they are all at the same house! I’ll try to make this easy for you wether you are in the bayou, the park, or even your New Orleans uptown backyard – YOU can make a great family portrait with any camera. But let’s at least make it interesting!

Once you practice thinking beyond the cliché, ideas flow. And you can capture great fall family pictures with any camera. Could be even your smartphone or iPhone. Here are some tips for taking awesome family photos this season.   

 Millie poses with her flowers in New Orleans. ©2018 Zack Smith Photography

Millie poses with her flowers in New Orleans. ©2018 Zack Smith Photography

How to use natural light for family photos

The weather changes during fall, so does the sunlight. To make the most of natural light in your fall family photos, consider heading outside with your family during the golden hour, which is the hour after sunrise or the hour before sunset. The soft, warm tones of golden light make any subject look more fascinating.  

But even if you’re shooting in the middle of the day, the low winter sun is always nice, just find a shady area to place your subjects. As I always say – you will get the BEST RESULTS by making sure your subject is in the same light as your background. This helps avoid any harsh shadows on them due to the direct sun. You can also shoot on a cloudy day, but don’t forget to set the camera’s white balance right; otherwise it might show a slightly bluish color tone ( you can always readjust in post later, especially if you shoot RAW)

Need some Expert HELP? My 2019 Photography Workshop Calendar is OUT – CLICK HERE

During the autumn season, the sun shines at a low angle and creates long, deep shadows in the afternoon. One good idea would be to include those shadows in your frame in order to capture the essence of the season. 

So if we are thinking out of the box, a good idea would be using the bright sunlight as a strong backlight. Place your subjects with the sun behind them and use a reflector to bounce back fill lights onto their face. For the lack of a proper reflector, you can use a large white paper or Polystyrene plate. Or if you don’t have that just go for it and make sure you have the shutter on continuous and high speed!

Best tips for photographing outdoors

If you’re shooting on a sunny day, setting the exposure right could be a challenge. This is where you can use the Sunny 16 rule, which suggests setting the aperture at f/16 and then setting the shutter speed reciprocal to your ISO value.

Check out my very 1st blog post for how to do the Sunny 16 Rule! CLICK HERE

For instance, set your aperture at f/16. Now if ISO is 200, your shutter speed should be 1/200 seconds.  If ISO is 100, shutter speed will be 1/100 seconds.

When taking solo shots or close-ups, you should consider using a long lens (100mm or above) to help add a nice bokeh effect to your photos. (like the photo of Millie above) If you’re taking a long shot of your family, however, use a slightly shorter focal length lens (70mm or below). Also, consider including some elements of the nature (such as, leaves or branches of a tree) in the foreground to add depth to your fall family pictures.

Best tips for capturing fall colors in family pictures

First things first, choose the right location for your fall family photos. It could be your local park, a pumpkin patch, a farm house or a countryside trail, but make sure the place has abundance of reds, yellows and oranges for colorful fall photography.

 Maggie poses with Chloe. Notice the soft out of focus backgrounds. ©Zack Smith Photography.

Maggie poses with Chloe. Notice the soft out of focus backgrounds. ©Zack Smith Photography.

Using a longer focal-length lens is always a good way to isolate the stunning fall colors in your photograph. You can also use the sunlight to your advantage. For instance, take a close shot of a backlit leaf to make the colors look more vivid. Even when you’re taking a wide landscape shot, consider using the sun as your backlight to help capture the beautiful fall foliage colors. 

Another good idea would be adjusting the camera’s color saturation setting to a slightly higher level, so that you get more intense colors.  Alternatively, it is possible to increase color saturation or adjust colors during your photo editing phase.

The colors of autumn vary depending on when you’re shooting. Ideally, you should shoot at different times of a day to capture the many different colors of the season.

Choosing what colors your family members should wear is also important. Ideally, try wearing complementary colors. For instance, a blue dress looks stunning against the orange and red fall foliage.

Finally, experiment with the camera angle. Get low or shoot from a high angle to make the fall colors come alive in your frame. Also combining this technique with “same light on subject and background” can give you great even results like this portrait of the Krieg family at New Orleans Museum of Art

 The Krieg family at New Orleans Museum of Art. ©Zack Smith Photography

The Krieg family at New Orleans Museum of Art. ©Zack Smith Photography

As always…have fun and shoot for the wall! Keep in touch with you family photo session photography and comment on this post!

"Nurturing the Lower 9": Photographs and Story in new 64 Parishes Magazine

December 21, 2018

I don’t’ do as much editorial photography these days as it’s not as much on my radar as it used to be. My world is full of commercial and brand story telling which is half real and half created to sell a product or service. Editorial photography tells the real story, no bells or whistles. I was honored to work on a project with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ 64 Parishes magazine that reported on a story I had no idea existed. The camera has introduced me to people and stories I would have otherwise never been involved in, and this instance is no different. I hope you visit the site to read more!

READ STORY HERE – https://64parishes.org/nurturing-the-lower-9

 Aurthur Johnson of the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED)

Aurthur Johnson of the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED)

2019 New Orleans Photography Workshop Schedule with a dose of REAL...

December 17, 2018

Ding. Ding. Dong. Tis the season to start thinking about your goals for next year. I am not talking about New Year’s Resolutions about eating better or exercising more. I want to talk about your photography goals for 2019. Are you ready for some REAL TALK? Then read on…

if you are ready you can just CLICK HERE – 2019 Photography Workshops

Do you want to learn to photograph better?

Do you want to learn how to see like the camera and react to the world around you with lightning precision of creativity, balance, and insight? Learning to be a better photographer takes time, practice, and a sincere dedication in your life to WANT to see your world in a different way. If this sounds like you, then keep reading.

I have been actively teaching photographers for over 16 years and that time has given me so many tools to help YOU be a better photographer. I am not here to teach you tips or tricks. I am not here to teach you what you can learn online. I am here to look you in the eye and find out what it is that makes your photography mind tick, tick, tick and learn! My courses are geared to turning your view of the world from a curious observer to a participating director, filled with apertures and focal lengths options for EVERY situation.

Do you want to learn how to photography portraits? Do you want to learn how to photograph second lines, live music, even Mardi Gras? You have come to the right place. Go ahead…make your resolution…

How to photograph children in the most creative and unique way this holiday season.

November 20, 2018

 Emelie Thomson photographed at Zack Smith Photography Studio in New Orleans, 2018 Emelie Thomson photographed at Zack Smith Photography Studio in New Orleans, 2018

If you know me, I have never been one to photograph many kids, babies, or even teens. But after having a child of my own I have really enjoyed documenting my daughter’s personality through her experiences at learning and loving life. Parents often ask me, “how can I photograph my kids in a more creative and fun way”?


Interested in learning more about my child portrait services?


I don’t think there is an easy answer to photographing kids as they are all different and require a different approach to getting them to be their best selves when the camera is up and ready. I made this blog post to help you with photographing your kids in time for the upcoming holidays. I hope this will help you capture their natural beauty and adventurous spirit at the house and at your next family gathering!

 Liam Rhein photographed at Zack Smith Photography Studio in 2018 Liam Rhein photographed at Zack Smith Photography Studio in 2018  Maggie Rhein photographed in Zack Smith Photography Studio in 2018. Maggie Rhein photographed in Zack Smith Photography Studio in 2018.

Before you capture a photo, capture a child’s heart

One common mistake people make when photographing kids is trying too hard to make things happen as planned. For instance, trying to make them smile when they don’t want to, or trying to direct the shoot too much. I feel it just doesn’t work that way for kids. Instead, aim for fun times; and good photos will just happen. Speak to them in their language and spark their imagination at all times keeping them interested in the process. Most professional photographers swear by one simple thumb rule; Before you capture kids’ photos, capture their heart. PERIOD. This might mean asking some questions about their day, what foods they like, or even if they like cameras (see?) before you even touch the camera, or starting a conversation about their hobbies. The idea is to make them feel at ease before you get started. That way, you have a better chance of getting their attention during the shoot. Preparation for photographing children should start weeks in advance. But what should you be doing during that phase? Here are some tips and ideas.

Choosing the right location for your child’s photoshoot

When choosing a location for your kids or teens’ portrait session, consider a few questions. Maybe you have a favorite spot in mind or a location that speaks to you on an emotional level. That’s great, but what about consulting with the parents to find out if there is a place that they kid has a connection to where they feel comfortable and even playful? Try photographing at their favorite park or playground with the caveat that after the shoot they get playtime?

How is the lighting condition? – Just choosing a brightly-lit location is not enough. You need a place with enough open shades, so you can avoid shooting in the direct sun. As we know already direct sunlight creates harsh shadows – not good for children portraits unless you are shooting in full sun as a side light or diffusing it with a 5 in 1 reflector. Alternatively, shoot in the magic hour, which is an hour or so after the sunrise or an hour before the sunset.

 Poet and Cecil at the cypress tree. Notice how the tree motif is a pleasing background for this portrait. Poet and Cecil at the cypress tree. Notice how the tree motif is a pleasing background for this portrait.

Ask yourself, does the location offer visual variety? Choosing the right background will help make your kid portraits look more vivid and lively. Choose a location that offers enough visual variety. For instance, try going to an area near you where there are brightly colored houses, manicured fences with ivy and oak trees to accompany the composition to direct the viewer’s eyes towards the subject, while also adding more depth to your photo.

 Having kids “go on an adventure” sparks their imagination and creativity and you just point and click! Having kids “go on an adventure” sparks their imagination and creativity and you just point and click!

Choosing what to wear to the photoshoot is important!

Before you can decide what to wear, you need to know what not to wear. There is no set rule, but I like to tell parents to avoid busy prints and patterns as they do not translate well on camera. Bright colors are great but make sure you avoid harsh colors like neon, black, deep red and deep green as they could reflect onto your kids’ skin to make them look unnatural. It is also a good idea to avoid distracting logos and slogan shirts. If you’re photographing kids in natural light, avoid white shirts as they make it more difficult to set exposure if you are using auto.

Point being: the focus should be on your kids rather than on their outfits. If you’re still not sure what to wear, here are some good examples.

·      Light blue overalls with matching headbands  

·      Seersuckers in pastel colors for your teens

·      Double denim for your teen boys

·      Basic neutrals or soft floral dresses for babies

Another important thing is that your kids’ outfits should be comfortable to wear and easy to maintain. Never let them wear hard-to-pull-on tights on a photo shoot. You cannot expect a happy mood from someone in physical discomfort, right?

 

Check out my latest Timelapse videos from my photoshoots!

November 2, 2018

Lighting large groups with strobes!

I have had this continuing portrait client for a few years now, photographing a very large group outside with multiple strobes. Paul B. Habans in New Orleans is the most laid back teachers I have ever met and they make a complex lighting scheme very easy and fun. It’s always different how to light for large groups and how to mix natural light and strobes, but once you do it for the same client in the same place, it gets easy!

Product photography in the studio!

When life gives you beans you do a photoshoot! Really on top of your game? You TIMELAPSE! I had 20+ bags of beans to shoot in my studio on Magazine Street in New Orleans so why not timelapse the process. You can see more about how I lit the beans and how I created a custom photoshoot workflow for this by SUBSCRIBING to my Youtube channel – GO HERE

New Orleans Business Headshots on Magazine Street: The Video!

October 23, 2018

Uptown New Orleans Headshot Video

I am very blessed to work with so many New Orleans artists who not only excel at their craft but offer their gifts. I have been working with Nick Pino of Dumbsmart Industries for the last 2 years to help create my marketing videos and I am very proud of our latest collaboration for my New Orleans headshot business. We filmed my clients both in my studio on Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans and on location to show viewers a small glimpse into my brand. Please share this post if you like, it would mean alot to me!

A New Orleans Street Party with the Prince of Wales: Photo Gallery and Behind the Scenes

October 17, 2018

…the good thing about shooting street photography in New Orleans is that you never really lose the laser focus – you just have to hear the right trumpet lick (bah da da dah!!) and you fall in line…just like the band.”

I drove hurriedly through the uptown New Orleans side streets to get to the Lyons Center, worried and wondering. Wondering if I had all the gear I needed. Did I have film, my polaroid back, my lights, were my batteries charged, and was I going to get there on time? Worried that what if my lack of street shooting in the recent years would render my eye rusty and my vision slow to capture the right angles of the 90th year of marching of the Prince of Wales SAPC? No pressure, yeah right!

Remembering to “TAKE MY OWN DAMN ADVICE” I made a checklist, and kept it simple: two lenses, one light, Hasselblad and a Canon and one bag to hold them all. Kind of like the Lord of the Rings for photography…ok nerd alert…I digress…

I was grateful to be able to do portraits of the members in the gym before they exited to the streets, where I got an amazing behind the scenes look at this amazing group. Seeing what they see from the inside, side, and back of the line – the faces and phones held erect in joy and rapid fire digital snaps…

 POW business manager and member, Stanley Taylor makes his smokin’ exit the only way he knows how.

POW business manager and member, Stanley Taylor makes his smokin’ exit the only way he knows how.

About ten years ago I stopped the mad hustle to shoot EVERY second line and parade and focused my view and story on The Prince of Wales. I became good friends with two members and I felt I could do more for them and their crew in the long run by giving them my full attention. In the last few years after my business picked up and my daughter was born, I was going out shooting less on the streets so I had reason on this day to be a little apprehensive. But for me, the good thing about shooting street photography in New Orleans is that you never lose the laser focus – you just have to hear the right trumpet lick (bah da da dah!!) and you fall in line, just like the band and everyone else.

I saw the usual suspects, characters, hanger ons, and my photographer crew – tried and true. Mastro, Eric Waters, Pableaux, Judy Cooper, Buddah and many others. It felt good – and I am so honored to bring you these photos of the 90th Marching of the Prince of Wales Social Aid and Pleasure Club from New Orleans, Louisiana on Sunday, October 14th 2018.

All Images ©Zack Smith Photography and may not be used or shared without permission, doing so is stealing and that’s not right. Please share this gallery and If you are in one of these photos, I am happy to send them you – email or call! -504-251-7745 – zack@zacksmith.com

Learn Night Photography in New Orleans at Luna Fete

October 9, 2018

This one-of-a-kind night and art photography course can only take place one time of year: The Arts Council of New Orleans’ Luna Fete: a celebration of art, light, and technology.

Join me as I guide you through the artistically illuminated night sky of Fulton Street and Lafayette Square, as we photograph the light based projection mapping and intricate digital sculptures made by artists around the country.

I have photographed this amazing night of lights in New Orleans, and I have actually led a free photo walk when the event was new. The high quality and interaction of art has come so far in the last few years and I can’t wait to photograph it with you!

You can visit the workshop page and signup here!

https://www.zacksmith.com/luna-fete-night-photography-course

How to take great vacation and travel photography with any camera or smartphone

September 10, 2018

 This family just crushed Chicago and I've got the photos to prove it! This family just crushed Chicago and I’ve got the photos to prove it!

Want to know how I take great vacation and travel photos? 

Well my first piece of advice is: don’t wait until the sun sets over Lake Michigan during your first time to Chicago to get that great family shot! Practice at home, shoot every day, and SHOOT FOR THE WALL! While you are practicing, if you are in the New Orleans area – take my photography workshops and photography classes! You can always visit my web page and see what I am offering by clicking HERE and signing up for my mailing list by clicking at the bottom of this below. But first let’s get to the lesson…

 Great travel photography begins with having the right gear to catch those magic moments, but more importantly it Great travel photography begins with having the right gear to catch those magic moments, but more importantly it’s about knowing the WHY and shooting with intention!

Aside from packing enough clothes, shoes, and diapers (yes diapers) on your holiday travel trip, photography is always a big part of any vacation or trip. What camera should you pack? How many lenses should you bring? What will TSA let you travel with? Travel logistics non-withstanding, how can you make those travel photos stand out? Well, you don’t have to be the next Lee Friedlander to capture compelling and beautiful travel or vacation photos. In fact, you don’t even need an expensive DSLR, let alone lug around a heavy tripod, lenses, filters and flashes.

All you need is a decent camera or even your Smartphone or iPhone. This lesson is made to help you take great vacation and travel photographs using the camera you have. 

Vacation photography is all about capturing the right moments and telling a story in every shot. If you don’t have an eye for good photos, more expensive tools aren’t the solution. For me I really enjoy keeping it simple. For this recent trip to Chicago with my family I only brought my Canon 50mm 1.2 lens with me. One set of eyes ( i mean, focal length…) allowed me to walk closer to my subject and find the right angle. When I bring a zoom lens with me, I am tempted to use the zoom instead of getting closer to the action. 

 I love the 1.2 aperture on the Canon 50mm! I shot this flower bouquet while waiting for our first ever deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati I love the 1.2 aperture on the Canon 50mm! I shot this flower bouquet while waiting for our first ever deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s in Chicago. Now I am wondering, can you FedEx pizza? Asking for a friend.

Follow these Tips for Better travel and Vacation Photos!

My mantra has always been “Shoot For The Wall” which in a nutshell means – shoot with intention and purpose so that your images are good enough to print on the wall. No matter if you don’t have a wall to print on, the most important thing to remember here is to shoot with intention. and know the WHY of every photograph. You can really shoot with intention with any camera. Here are some simple steps i’ve put together for you!

Shoot in good light – If you are taking landscape photos, the best time to shoot would be during the sunrise and sunset and keep your back to the sun. I would also suggest that you plan your shooting on a cloudy day. The idea is to avoid the direct sun shining into the camera or phone so get up a little early or stay out a little longer! Soft natural light makes any subject look more interesting so the magic hour or diffused light is best! 

 You You’ll see my daughter Vega and wife in alot of these photos of Chicago. Notice the even, low contrast light and converging lines at the Navy Pier. Such a beautiful place!  Here I kept the sun at my back and waited for the moment when he looked through his arms! Here I kept the sun at my back and waited for the moment when he looked through his arms!

Capture feelings – Good photgraphs capture a moment, but great photographs portray an emotion. Instead of telling your family to stop and pose for the camera, allow them to move freely so you can capture a real moment. I know this is easier said than done while chasing kids, changing your settings and trying to have a good time. The more you do this, the better you will get at it! I promise! Creating great photography habits you can always have with you.

Choose the right background – Most people don’t understand this, but backgrounds can make or break photograph. Once you have your subject identified, it’s time to concentrate on making sure the background is not distracting. Try and take your time and don’t just place your subject anywhere. The background should complement the subject versus overshadowing it. Your eyes should always land on your subject and not get pulled to the background. Same with foregrounds! If you allow a small foreground element into your frame – like a tree or a flower – it helps add more depth to the scene but make sure it doesn’t take away!

Create Space and Get Abstract! – If you are following my advice you are going to take some great vacation and travel photographs. What happens when you’ve mastered the art of travel photography and you have dozens of magic moments of your family, and the food, and the mountains and you just…want…something….different! Think outside of the box and look for patterns at the brunch restaurant, focus close on rain drops on the hotel window (every vacation has a rain day right? Order in!), and create some space!

Ok, so my #1 advice for how to take great vacation and travel photography?

Practice Practice Practice! Don’t wait until the sun sets over Lake Michigan during your first time to Chicago to get that great family shot! Practice at home, shoot every day, and SHOOT FOR THE WALL! If you are in the New Orleans area – take my photography workshops! You can always visit my web page and see what I am offering by clicking HERE and signing up for my mailing list by clicking below!! Please share this post!!!

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