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The City Acccording to Armstrong: Satchmo Fest 2018 Photo Gallery

August 12, 2018

In New Orleans it is truly evident that so many life passions and careers are influenced and inspired by the power and talent of one man: Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. If you don’t know what I am talking about, listen to Louis more than you are now or come down during Satchmo Fest during the first weekend of August. Every panel talk, solo, and song is in some way inspired by and driven with the spirit of Satchmo.

I feel that is why this small New Orleans music festival that is put on by French Quarter Festivals Inc. sets the stage for some of the most passioned playing you’ll ever see in this city. French Quarter Festival, Jazz Fest, and all the other “fests” are a great way to see some of the best New Orleans and Louisiana music in the world in one place. But no other festival comes close to creating a community mindset and mood such as Satchmo Fest. Just think about it. Your artistic goal is to invoke and thank the spirit and talent of a man so influential to the world of jazz as Louis Armstrong…you KNOW the music will be unique, powerful, and moving. I hope these photos do it justice….

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 post-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 SATCHMO Fest. This gallery features in order: Edna Karr Band, Matt Rhody, Charlie Halloran, Doyle Cooper, AJ Gaulton (drying out SATCHMO), Yoshio Toyama, The Big Cheezy, Plum St. Snowballs, James Williams (band), Brice Miller of Mohogany Brass Band, Yolanda Windsay, Fans of Sacthmo Fest, Topsy Chapman and Solid Harmony, Torrence Taylor w/ Joe Lastie’s, Will Smith, Joe Lastie, Peter Harris, Calvin Johnson, AJ Gaulton (smoking), Cory Henry, TBC Brass Band, Hassan “Too” Goffner, Cedric Wiley, Oswald Jones, aka Boe Monkey, Bday Boy Jon Gross, Cinnamon Black and Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, Shannon of TBC Brass Band, Sudan Social Aid and Pleasure Club, Undefeated Divas and Gents SAPC, Big 6 and TBC Brass Band, Shotgun Jazz Band, Storyville Stompers, Robin Barnes, Irma Thomas, Jeremy Davenport with Nicholas Payton, Trumpet Mafia, Donald Harrison Jr.,  Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown with son, Ashlin Parker.

Using Community To Grow As A Photographer - A 20 Year Tale

July 17, 2018

For me, creativity begins with experimentation and overcoming fear.

There was a time when I was first starting out as a photographer where nothing made sense. The apertures, shutter speeds and ISO’s where lost on me as well as the dollars spent experimenting with countless rolls of film.

As a 5th year senior at LSU I was eager to finish my degree in Journalism so I could hit the road and let the camera be my guide. In the meantime I had to learn this device, so I converted my bathroom into a darkroom and began experimenting with Rodinal, Kodak Developer, and any black and white chemicals I could get my hands on. In the beginning, it was all about making mistakes and learning. 

Especially when I was just learning how to develop  my styles as a portrait photographer, I still had to mess up, experiment, and learn. In my early days I photographed my friends, strangers, and those around me. Funny how 20 years go by and that has not changed at all…

Even though the stakes are higher as professional, I can’t lose sight of the need to make mistakes, push my boundaries and learn.

Just because I have a studio now, know my gear, and enjoy all types of clients, it doesn’t mean I can rest on my laurels. I have to continually be learning, experimenting and growing as a photographer. So just like before, I still have to learn and grow from the community around me.

 Debbie Davis photographed at my studio on Magazine Street in New Orleans, 2018

Debbie Davis photographed at my studio on Magazine Street in New Orleans, 2018

My friend Debbie Davis can sing. Damn she’s got pipes like I’ve never heard and she commands a stage like no one else. Debbie came by the studio a few weeks ago for some portraits and allowed me to experiment with light and backgrounds and I am very grateful for the opportunity to have a friend that trusts in my vision.

.As an artist at any stage we need our friends and collaborators to help push us to new levels. When I was first starting out learning the ropes as a photographer I needed those friends daily in order to get comfortable with my craft. 20 years after picking up a camera, I still need that support to learn. Thank you Debbie and countless others who have allows me to stumble, capture and learn right in front of you. 

Environment, fashion, and style in New Orleans. Can you believe the riches?

July 3, 2018
 Tyla and David on the streets of New Orleans where environment, style, and fashion meet.

Tyla and David on the streets of New Orleans where environment, style, and fashion meet.

Surrounded by the riches of scene and comforted by the periphery of environment we are spoiled photographers in New Orleans. Walk anywhere with a shallow depth of field mind and keen eye for focus and you will find an abundance of your best photographs yet to be taken. Bring a pen or bring a pad, you’re gonna be jotting down intersections, street names, and GPS coordinates until you run out of room or time. There are so many. Too many. 

I have a few images to share from a recent fashion branding shoot with Canal Place in New Orleans where I got to work with some top tier talent in front and behind the camera. Over an 8 hour period we shuffled our crew to 5 locations and created some of my favorite location portraits yet. I brought with me my trusty Paul C. Buff Alien Bees mostly for their light weight and ease of “run and gun” mode. I was using a single softbox and reflector on most images and balancing the sun with my Variable Neutral Density Filter set. As you can see I am not a big fan of “LOOK AT MY STROBES” when I shoot portraits. I think using a subtle lighting approach to environmental portraits for branding is the key to make the clients product shine and the city do it’s thing. Here are a few I can share, but first the credits:

Client: Canal Place

Design Agency: Deep Fried Advertising 

Talent Agency: FiftyTwo45 / Talent: Tyla, David, and Megan

Talent Agency: ATA / Talent: Caleb

Sylist: Andi Eaton / Hair: Emily Cambre / MUA: Artistry By Camille

Assistants: Sarrah Danziger, Bruce France, Matthew Seymour


See how the client uses the images on it’s website…canalplacestyle.com


Do you want to learn portrait photography in New Orleans? CLICK HERE 

Natural Light Portrait Photography Workshop is LIVE now! Sign up for our July 21st class in New Orleans, don’t miss this opportunity to learn!

Photographing Hats is Old Hat: Product Photography Gallery

June 15, 2018

I wanted to use this blog entry as a follow up to my Product Photography Facebook LIVE Tutorial that aired on June 6th. If you missed it you can CLICK HERE to view the video and see the gear list, then come back here to see the final images! I partnered with hat maker Colby Hebert to photograph a collection of his new line of hat wear. This collection of one-of-a-kind hats we photographed at my studio needed to be shot a specific way so that the composition, lighting, and editing all fit the same aesthetic. I based my lighting scheme on a few photos he showed me from a recent ad campaign that he liked.

Creating the Photographic Dream and Managing Client Expectations: A Dance Worth Learning

This style of product photography gave the hats a uniform look and could easily be integrated into his social media advertising and website. Any time I meet with a client to talk on any type of shoot, especially product photography, it is so important to understand their goals and creative ideas. Lucky for me, Colby had a very specific look in mind and I could replicate that at my studio…right next door!

Product Photography Lighting in the Studio!

To give Colby the look he desired, I chose to go with a large octabank softbox and a grid with my trusty Einstein 640 from Paul C. Buff. I like this particular light because of the consistent color and light. Now this might not make a difference to me as much in some shoots where I am shooting all day on location, changing sets and lights. But when you are photographing in a studio with a set background, props, and products from the same line or company – you need to have your most important variables on LOCKDOWN! Having a consistent light power and color output from your head every time will ensure that Hat #1 looks just the same as Hat #100 – and when your client wants to roll through the images on social media one after another (as expressed by mine) this is very important.

I also had a White Lightning 800 head with a smaller strip softbox that was about 45º to the back left of the hat for some light fill on the brim, and I was not lighting my slate grey background so the hats would just pop naturally. My camera was secure to my tripod and I was tethered to view on my monitor to my left.

There was a time where I’d say “NO WAY” on a photoshoot to my clients. Now, I say “HELL YES”

Having a monitor to view your images in front of your client has been a game changer for me. As I alluded to in the live video I really don’t mind clients looking over my shoulder on a shoot. I always take time to explain to them the detailed editing and color correcting that takes place after and showing them as we shoot ensures that we got the shot. When I was less confident with my editing skills I was very reluctant to show anyone what I was getting since there would be considerable amounts of editing…or “saving” the shot. The more confident I became in my photography and in the communication with the client, the better aligned we were on the expectations. I wasn’t born technically confident of my gear, this comes with time, patience, and alot of practice.

I hope you enjoy a few of the hats above – you can see more on Colby’s Instagram Account. After the shoot I wanted to get a few images of the production side of Colby’s operation, where he works and what it looks like. We also got some great portraits. Here are some of my favorite. 

If you are looking to tell the story of your business, Email me now!

Wether your business revolves around services or products, there is a uniqueness we can capture with well informed and creative photography! That uniqueness is YOU and I am am all ears! 

Name *
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VIDEO:How To Creatively Do Product Photography In Your Studio or Home

June 1, 2018

I continue to count the blessings that shine on my life since I have moved my studio to Magazine Street. It has been a rewarding experience being able to do business headshots in New Orleans for so many entrepreneurs, business owners, attorneys, and realtors while getting to hear their stories and learn about their profession. One of those other blessings is meeting the talented and hard working hat maker Colby Hebert from New Iberia. Meeting that guy and hearing that accent I knew the block would be c’est bon.

We have been talking about photographing his one of a kind hand made hats for some time, and just being the kind of guy I am – decided to make this a big deal. Colby has some hats, I got a studio – and if you joined us on Wednesday, June 6th at 11am on my FACEBOOK business page YOU saw how I setup for a product shoot, light the hats, and make Colby’s hats look as good in person on the camera.

GEAR LIST

Canon 5DmkIV / 85mm 1.8 EF lens

Exposure: 1/200 / ISO400 / f5.6

Key Light: Paul C Buff Einstein head, 1/8th power

Modifier: Paul C Buff 36″ octabank, diffuser, NO grid, 45º pointed down to subject, 5ft away.

Backlight: Paul C Buff 24″ softbox, diffuser AND 5 in 1 diffuser set at 1/32nd power

 

Education through photography workshops to empower the next generation of storytellers.

April 26, 2018

 Robert Smith plays to photographers and the morning sun in Jackson Square in New Orleans, LA ©2018 Zack Smith Photography

The only way to truly capture the heart and soul of a city is to immerse yourself in it.  Why be a bystander watching history pass you by when you can be in the middle of it, photographing the magic up close? 

From the charming streets of Uptown to the magic of the historic French Quarter, New Orleans is known around the world for it’s iconic music, extraordinary food, and vibrant street culture.  It is no wonder why New Orleans is revered as a street photographer’s walking dream.  I am and will forever be grateful to call the City of New Orleans my home, as it has given me inspiration and purpose to create some of my most compelling photographs that tell the deepest and most touching stories.                                                                                                                   

 Zack Smith Photography Workshops, Des Allemands, LA 2016

Zack Smith Photography Workshops, Des Allemands, LA 2016

From my experience,  great documentary photography is all about the relationships. Being present as a witness to document these precious moments to tell these stories would never have the effect it does without the relationships made with the cultural makers and doers of the community. I strive to empower my subjects by crediting them in print and online use, in addition to supplying them a digital and/or print image. I feel this is the most effective way we can give back to those we photograph and continue to strengthen the relationship between photographer and subject.

 Zack Smith Photography Workshops. Blues legend Little Freddie King and Zack Smith. ©David Altschul 2016

Zack Smith Photography Workshops. Blues legend Little Freddie King and Zack Smith. ©David Altschul 2016

It is with this philosophy that I have created The New Orleans Photography Experience Workshop. This workshop is the culmination of my 20 years of creative exploration, visual storytelling, photography education, and relationship building resulting in a one of a kind photography workshop offered nowhere else in the world. This workshop will be used as a platform to show how working with your subjects as collaborators within their intimate environment can create more effective and empowering photography.

 . Zack Smith Photography Workshops. The Storyville Brass Band, Bourbon Street, New Orleans. 

. Zack Smith Photography Workshops. The Storyville Brass Band, Bourbon Street, New Orleans. 

My goal has always been to empower a culture of technically sound photographers who shoot with intention and purpose. If I can make one person see the reward of storytelling through empathy and “giving back” I have done my job in completing the circle of knowledge, mentorship, and service. – Zack

Zack Smith is a photographer, producer and educator in New Orleans, LA. Zack’s studio on Magazine Street is a full service studio for business headshots, lifestyle branding, and photography workshops.

For More Information on The New Orleans Photography Workshop Experience go to

https://www.zacksmith.com/new-orleans-photography-experience-workshop

 

Best of Fest! French Quarter Fest 2018 Photo Gallery

April 24, 2018

 Olympia Brass Band leads the opening parade to begin French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP Olympia Brass Band leads the opening parade to begin French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP

French Quarter Fest Photo Gallery is Personal…

Wow what a year at French Quarter Fest 2018. Three amazing and beautiful days could not be overshadowed by one nasty, wet, and windy one. The festival ended up cancelling Saturday’s event, but we succeeded in still finding the magic during 3 days instead of 4. You might notice less images this year but the energy and moments are still evident.

Even though I am putting in over 10 miles walking per day for my client, French Quarter Festivals Inc, I always have one of those feet pointed toward my art. In order to capture the essence of an event such as French Quarter Fest, I have to be constantly scanning the streets of the French Quarter and looking everyone in the eye for that magic moment that is ABOUT to happen. I can’t be satisfied with what is happening, because by the time the shutter clicks that moment has left the world. I have to anticipate. 

 Louis Michot of the Lost Bayou Ramblers performs on Day 1 of French Quarter Fest. ©ZSP Louis Michot of the Lost Bayou Ramblers performs on Day 1 of French Quarter Fest. ©ZSP

The compositions I find are actually years in the making. It takes years to understand and anticipate light, backgrounds, and personalities. I take great comfort in knowing I will  never perfect it and every day is an adventure trying to chase…that….one….shot. I hope you enjoy my 2018 French Quarter Fest Gallery and join the chase with me…

 Olympia Brass Band leads the opening parade to begin French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP Olympia Brass Band leads the opening parade to begin French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP  My friend and yours, the amazing Joseph Lastie Jr. on snare drum. ©ZSP My friend and yours, the amazing Joseph Lastie Jr. on snare drum. ©ZSP  Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Cha Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Cha’s perform on the opening day of FQF2018. ©ZSP

I mostly use natural light to document a festival but there are times I need strobes to fill in shadows and equalize the overall exposure of an image. In the image above, and most from the Cajun/Zydeco stage, I utilize two mounted Paul C. Buff 1600 Alien Bees with reflectors. I am able to secure them with grip mounts to the poles on the stage truss. Using a Pocketwizard PlusX system I am fire them off on stage, and even when I am far from the performer giving me a great backlight!

 Sweet Crude pose for a quick group shot backstage after their performance. ©ZSP Sweet Crude pose for a quick group shot backstage after their performance. ©ZSP  Alexis Marceaux of Sweet Crude perform on opening day of French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP Alexis Marceaux of Sweet Crude perform on opening day of French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP  Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Cha Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Cha’s at FQF 2018. ©Zack Smith Photography  Lost Bayou Ramblers perform at French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP Lost Bayou Ramblers perform at French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP  Lost Bayou Ramblers pose for our annual family photo with crowd at FQF2018. ©ZSP Lost Bayou Ramblers pose for our annual family photo with crowd at FQF2018. ©ZSP  Grammy Winning Louisiana artists: Andre Michot, Chubby Carrier, Louis Michot. ©ZSP2018 Grammy Winning Louisiana artists: Andre Michot, Chubby Carrier, Louis Michot. ©ZSP2018

 A MUST SEE set at French Quarter Fest each year: Mario Abney at Royal Sonesta. A MUST SEE set at French Quarter Fest each year: Mario Abney at Royal Sonesta.  John John “Spidey 504” Sanpietro performs with the Red Hot Brass Band at French Quarter Fest 2018.  Big Queen Laurie and Wild Man Smoke of the Red Cheyenne, FQF 2018. ©Zack Smith Big Queen Laurie and Wild Man Smoke of the Red Cheyenne, FQF 2018. ©Zack Smith  Corey Mack puts down a mean show on Decatur St. - this blew my MIND! http://coreymack.us/ Corey Mack puts down a mean show on Decatur St. – this blew my MIND! http://coreymack.us/  Sean Ardoin putting on another high energy positive Zydeco show! Sean Ardoin putting on another high energy positive Zydeco show!  Garden District Jazz Band and French Quarter Fest 2018. ©Zack Smith Photography Garden District Jazz Band and French Quarter Fest 2018. ©Zack Smith Photography

So you might see alot of light that appears “not” natural and you are right, it isn’t. At festivals I usually have an assistant with me holding a Paul C. Buff strobe with a battery pack attached. This year my assistant, photographer/musician Chet Overall, had a 1600 White Lightning, Vagabond Battery, and a Beauty Dish on a stand and we used this when I shot street work. Having the added light to fill in shadows and create contrast really help solidify my style and vision.

 Storyville String Band with Seva Venet at Preservation Hall. ©ZSP Storyville String Band with Seva Venet at Preservation Hall. ©ZSP  NOCCA Jazz Ensemble bassist at French Quarter Fest 2018. ©Zack Smith Photography NOCCA Jazz Ensemble bassist at French Quarter Fest 2018. ©Zack Smith Photography  NOCCA student musicians David and Diji after their French Quarter Fest 2018 performance. NOCCA student musicians David and Diji after their French Quarter Fest 2018 performance.  Paul Sanchez poses with the Film Fest poster promoting his film; Nine Lives. Paul Sanchez poses with the Film Fest poster promoting his film; Nine Lives.  I would definitely buy life insurance from Kevin, but maybe not a tattoo... I would definitely buy life insurance from Kevin, but maybe not a tattoo…  A young fan holds sheet music for Charlie Halloran that was blowing in the wind. ©Zack Smith Photography A young fan holds sheet music for Charlie Halloran that was blowing in the wind. ©Zack Smith Photography  My assistant Chet Overall says My assistant Chet Overall says “dude look at that light” – and he was right. Soft sun reflections from the Federal Courthouse struck this fest goer just right…  Dancing in the Dusk at French Quarter always saves the last dance...for you. Dancing in the Dusk at French Quarter always saves the last dance…for you.

Want to see More Festival Photography?

GO HERE for my 2017 BEST OF FRENCH QUARTER FEST

GO HERE for Best of SATCHMO FEST 2016

INTERVIEW: Talking social media, photography, the "full buyout" and branding in the 'new' New Orleans

March 27, 2018

I was honored to have been a recent guest on the acclaimed and long running podcast “It’s a Good Life Babe” where hosts Geoff and Joel sit down with New Orleans makers, movers, and shakers at their living room table to talk shop. I was more candid than I ever have been in an interview, talking opening about photography rates, social media, business headshots, and my new studio on Magazine Street. We talked openly, off the cuff, and let it all hang out on this podcast. I hope you will listen! 

We even touched upon my exciting upcoming New Orleans Photography Experience Workshop and why it’s important to “credit the culture” – CLICK HERE to learn more about that…then listen below!

Being a New Orleans creative means being able to balance the business of photography and the creativity of the spirit.

What I most enjoy about what I do, solving the visual problem and creating the dream for my clients (thank you Frank Relle), has everything to with being given the opportunity to listen. I have the unique opportunity to listen to people, mostly strangers of different ilk, explain their dreams and desires of how they and their brand want to look. Only given a few context clues, I must then sleuth around their mind using contextual words and images to bring out the true vision. Sound complicated…it’s not. Business branding, lifestyle photography, fine art and even headshots can be rewarding to both sides in terms of delivery of goods (photos) and services (the actual photo shoot) when done right. I hope you’ll listen to the podcast and comment here!

Product Review: Stellar Phoenix Recovery Software

March 1, 2018

Recovery begins with admitting we were wrong

As professional photographers we don’t like to admit it. We don’t talk about it much, but it happens. It happens to all of us. It’s the “Oops I Formatted Again” or the “Where did my file go” moment that we all dread. If you are in this business long enough you will accidentally delete or format files at one point in your life but luckily there’s Stellar Phoenix Recovery to the rescue. Before I tell you how great this product is, let me tell you how NOT great my day was last week.

As a busy commercial photographer and studio owner in New Orleans I maintain a healthy mix of active shooting, studio management, and self-promotion. I am constantly trying to update my online presence and social media with new videos and photography that tell the story of my business.  

Staying competitive on Magazine Street means keeping it clean, and documenting your work.

This weekend I took the time to paint the floor of my studio windows and gave them a coat of fresh white paint. My studio is located on Magazine Street, a very busy and competitive commercial area and I need my brand to be seen in the right way. After the paint dried I put my old Rollieflex on a tripod and arranged a window display to be proud of. This was a perfect moment to snap some high res photos of the display for a new social media post. The sun was perfectly shining behind my logo and the often busy Magazine Street was void of cars and people! I couldn’t believe it, finally a moment of peace and clarity to showcase my studio in the best way!

After I took some photos of the front of the shop I got a call from a client, and then the day took over. Later on in the day my first headshot client came in and was in a rush so before I started shooting, I formatted the card that was in the camera, forgetting about my window box photo shoot from earlier! I have never seen my studio look so good, and the conditions were PERFECT! Damn!

Stellar Phoenix Recovery Software to the rescue!

Never fear, I had Stellar Phoenix Recovery loaded on my Mac and went to work recovering the files. The interface for Stellar Phoenix is so easy to use, and when I launched the application I pressed the big blue button to start scanning my Secure Digital card for the lost files. Stellar Phoenix begins the scan, trying to find my files, and although I only shot about 10 files, it began finding images I had deleted from previous shoots! I was impressed at how fast the process took and how easy it was to recover my important files.

After the scan, the application showed me files from my formatted card and I easily navigated to the exact date I shot my window display. The software is very easy to read and I immediately was able to select the files I wanted and recover!

My business is run successfully on the security and safety of my photographs. My files are a direct investment into my business and my future and I feel more confident about my future when I have Stellar Phoenix Recovery on hand for the times I need them! What are you waiting for…here they are! https://www.stellarinfo.com/mac-photo-recovery.php

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