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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

See more food and product photography from New Orleans photographer Zack Smith http://zacksmit.wwwmi3-tr1.supercp.com/new-orleans-food-product-photography/


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

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

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Explore Zack's Jazz Museum Exhibit


New Orleans photographer Zack Smith’s portraits of Louisiana musicians, artists, and fans are currently on display at the New Orleans Jazz Museum.

Discover the captivating world of jazz through Zack’s lens. 

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