Category: Ecommerce

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

August 21, 2020

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 https://zacksmith.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! 

See what others are saying!


Tips for E-Commerce Product Photography/My Dog Tonka makes his debut on Amazon.com / Special Promo Code Inside!

December 18, 2015

My dog is famous. Your dog may be on the internet via Instagram, Facebook, or the many photos you took of them on your cell phone. I’m not bashing, I’m just saying my dog is famous. My 10 month old Old English Bulldog is indeed internet famous by way of our many Facebook posts and Tweets, but he has also met Santa. You heard me, the man in Red. Jolly Saint Nick. Mr. Claus if you’re not nasty. Here’s how…

I was recently hired to help a company advertise their new product, a Christmas pet bundle that includes a stocking filled with 4 dog toys and a holiday themed collar. The stocking included some fun toys for a dog and I wanted to find a way to set their product apart from the rest of the pack in this busy holiday season. The first suggestion I made was to make their photography the best for that category. After doing research on the subject, I found that this wouldn’t be too hard since most of the toy bundles for dogs I was finding were shot with poor lighting, bad composition, and were not reflective of how much FUN a dog stocking bundle could be to give to your dog!

I started surfing around for some Santa pics and found so many great ones. I then brought my Paul C Buff 1600 watt light kit n the kitchen and began doing mockups of our dog Tonka staring off into space and playing with the toys in the bundle. Before crafting some photomerges in Photoshop I sent the best photos I did of Tonka to my favorite cut out artists at Misterclipping. I have been using them for clients such as Krewe du Optic, King James and the Special Men, and Lebardo Scrubs.

I designed a few more funny action shots of Tonka with Santa that highlighted the clients product in the best way possible. I also did some product shots in my studio that I also sent to Misterclippings and they turned out great, as usual. In conclusion, finding out as much as you can about your clients product and how they want to represent it is the first step you need to take in formulating a good plan of attack. Next, you will want to research as many competitor products in the similar category as possible. Knowing how the rest of the field is photographing, listing, and marketing their products will give you some guidelines on how you can make yours stand out from the crowd. Consistent and colorful lighting will drive more viewers to your product and increase their conversion rate.

As a big THANK YOU for taking part in this post and reading it, I am giving you a PROMO CODE coupon for this very same Christmas Pet Bundle!

Click the photos below or THIS LINK & enter TOPDOG15 at checkout for %15 off! Order today and get before Christmas with 2-day Free Shipping!

Merry Christmas from TONKA and Zack Smith Photography.

Photography in the Lost and Found: Photographers..get a system now! How proper categorization of your work can lead to quicker dollars!

December 1, 2015

As a working professional photographer, proper organization of my digital files could make or break my next opportunity for income. I have learned this the hard way as I do most valuable lessons I hold dear!

SCENARIO A – Editor emails photographer (in this case, me) and asks if they have a certain file of Musician “A” performing at Music Festival “A” for a feature photo in an upcoming article. Job pays $$.

If you know anything about the current state of the editorial world where “we need this photo YESTERDAY” has quickly become “Can you REPLY to this email with SAID PHOTO?”, and we think nothing of it. Photography acquisition has always been and still is the LAST segment to be put into editorial content, so when someone is looking for a photo, that means the deadline is looming and the copy editor has left for the day. As a freelance photographer you really have no time to spare in locating the image, checking the file names and rights, and sending the image over (if all checks out of course). BUT WHERE DID THE IMAGE GO!!! (that was me screaming)

Back in the film days finding an image (if you remembered to file it away) was easy. Walk over to the binder of Festival “A” from the year in question and by alphabetical order (or by day) find Musician “A”, scan and send over. Well, yesteryears “yesterday” is now, RIGHT NOW!

Whatever post production software you use (Lightroom, Photoshop Suite, etc.) you must get with a program you can stick with and create a NEW HABIT OF ORDER. 

Above is my sample filing for any of my hard drives or cloud based storage. Most of my client work revolves around:


You have one of my main folders being PORTRAITS, and inside of it you have the person I photographed. Inside of that is a RAW folder where all of the RAW files go with their sidecars (.XMP files / metadata etc.), and along side of it are the different OUTPUT file types that are associated with any job. Sometime we’ll have folders like PSD, RAW Select, or even TIFF. I like to keep my RAW folders separate so that I can always go back to the source files and edit out a different file at any time while my other folders remain untouched.

Whatever your system is, get one and stick with it!

Good Habits Create Good Muscle Memory!

While you are here..take a peek at my new E-COMMERCE Gallery where you can purchase prints and take some of my work home with you for the holidays. Order by December 15th and get your order in by December 24th!


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