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Event and Conference Photography in these COVID times

March 22, 2021

Photographing conferences and conventions safely in the Covid landscape

Last year the COVID-19 pandemic took us all by surprise, leading to a widespread shutdown on very short notice. For me it meant creating more of an online presence with weekly photography tutorials, Instagram live sessions, and trying to create a closer relationship with my community. I am grateful to have had this avenue as it gave my business some revenue when all was in lockdown. I have always had my eggs in different baskets…my diverse revenue streams and client list have always been that way ever since I started doing more headshots in 2016. 

Photography for the French Market showing masked tourists and event participants can be creative.

Large-scale in person events were cancelled across the board; all the way from the 2020 Olympics to Louisiana’s own Festival International, Jazz Fest, and countless conferences and conventions. I know I lost a ton of business already on the books, more than half of my yearly income, and more that were pending or in the proposal and planning phase. This year, while public health and safety is still a major concern, we have the ability to prepare this time around. If you are planning on attending a conference or convention this year, there are ways to do so while still following public health guidelines. Also, if I am going to be photographing upcoming permitted events, I need to make sure me and my crew are safe as well..it works both ways!


First and foremost, try and maintain social distancing while shooting as much as possible. This goes for event goes and photo crews. Limit group photos to ten or fewer people at a time (based on current city/sate guidelines at the time), and sanitize high touch areas between clients. If you allow mask-free shoots, remember that the CDC guidelines say that being within six feet for fifteen minutes (cumulatively) or more is enough to spread a viral load, so keep those moving as efficiently as possible. New Orleans is known for our welcoming “southern hospitality” culture, so if you are attending a New Orleans convention, be prepared for a lot of warm elbow-daps with extra sanitizer on hand before and after! (Weird, but these ARE weird times)

As I write this, millions have been vaccinated and some have even had their second round of COVID shots. This has resulted in a higher number of conference photography phone calls and email inquiries. I think that companies and event planners sense the growing health confidence and are testing the waters.

I think it will be a while until we photograph an event like this in New Orleans but I am hopeful


Many conferences include a headshot booth for their guests at the event in addition to a roaming photographer documenting groups and speakers. The goal here is usually to photograph as many people well as quickly as possible, so efficiency is key in these situations. Photographers, try to do as much prep-work beforehand as possible to avoid wasting time on changing batteries and memory cards during the shoot. Not to mention the aim to cut down on exposure time mentioned above. If the convention you are attending allows group photos, try to avoid the “grip and grin” pose people usually go for when shooting those. These will quickly get repetitive and forgettable. If you let people get used to you, or better yet, forget you’re there, you are much more likely to be rewarded with fun and playful shots.  This may or may not work for all event photographers, but I think we have to be open to changing up the way we shoot large groups for the time being. Keep the group shots small, and try to refrain from bringing people too close together if you can handle it.


Much like conference photography in The Before Times, I recommend packing heavy but traveling light. Bring extra gear with you on the trip, but only carry the essentials on your person. These days, that should definitely include hand sanitizer, some alcohol wipes, extra N95 and cloth masks and maybe a bottle of Advil. If you relied on renting gear locally in the past, you may need to rethink that plan; a lot of businesses are nixing rental options to prevent high-touch spread. Normally, I would advise you to opt for a wide angle lens to capture the breadth of the crowd, but that will likely look far more barren than it used to. Due to COVID 19 safety guidelines, most in person gatherings have tighter limits on attendance, and require guests to be sufficiently spaced out. Instead, you might get more mileage out of prioritizing clean, crisp shots of individuals in the crowds reacting to and engaging with the various presentations.  


My go-to attire for events these days…special ops or just, 2021?

Last but not least, as photographers, we are going to be all over these conferences, even smaller ones. Like you, I welcome the work and really need the additional income I so sorely missed in 2020 – but it has be done the right way. So it is important that we take responsibility to protect ourselves beforehand and protect others at in person gatherings. We also have to be vocal to our client on what we expect from them and the safety of their crowd and our crew. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and try to limit your potential exposure time for a week or two before and after each event to avoid being an asymptomatic spreader. If you want to know more about what I’ve learned working during a global pandemic, email me now or go

The listening photographer is a client's best friend

October 15, 2020

The amount of trust that a stranger puts in a photographer is paramount to sometimes falling back blindfolded – Our pictures do speak for them selves, but it’s the story that happens during the client-photographer relationship that really makes the photos shine.

What starts as a call out in an email, or an inquiry from the website, ends up with an image that someone is proud of that represents who they are in the best way possible. In between is some of my favorite moments where I can learn from that person their hopes, dreams, and vision for the future of their brand and identity.

I’m grateful for the opportunity every day to meet new people and hear new stories and create new images to help so many small businesses in New Orleans – in the last few weeks I have felt a different positivity and the voices in the words of our people and it feels good.

Posting my five star reviews is only easy for me as it illustrates a point. My photos aren’t worth the shutter click if the client’s vision is not achieved – and it’s sometimes worth it to me as a headshot photographer in New Orleans to show you the end result. I could show you all of these business headshots and studio photography final photos, but all you would see is MY perspective of my client. I want you to see my clients perspective of their experience, and thus themselves.

A great review from a client means that I listened, and with each person that puts their trust in me I get better at figuring out the vision inside their head so that I may make it a reality.

Five star review of Zack Smith Photography's New Orleans business headshots.
Zack Smith Photographer actor and model photography services, five star review.

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!


One on One with Zack Smith: Filmmaker Crista Rock

June 20, 2020

One on One with Zack Smith: New Orleans filmmaker, photojournalist, and muralist Crista Rock! I have been knowing Crista for long time and it was only up until the last few years that I have seen her talent truly shine…where have I been! Well – consider yourself SERVED with creative angles, powerful stories and damn those Converging Lines! Look, Like, and Share!

I have always thought that storytelling through photography is the most powerful medium available to create change and connect with people. In the growing culture of Insgrammers, Twitter-photogs, and Facebook image makers we now have a shortened road from story capture to the audience ingest. The monetary barrier to entry in the digital photography space is getting lower and lower while the quality and resolution of the cameras are increasing. This momentum has leveled off in the last 3 years or so, but camera manufactures keep evolving camera ergonomics, internal image editing feature, wifi abilities and more things that don’t really make us “better” photographers.

As I see this trend continuing, what you don’t see is an exponential increase in talented, seasoned, and humble storytellers. And that’s just how the world works…it takes time to hone your skills, it take hours and hours (Malcom Gladwell says 10,000 hours) to create confidence and become an expert. I think what you have in Crista Rock is an expert in fields of listening, capturing, and delivering the truth. She’s been at it 20+ years and her work is one of a seasoned antennae collecting and delivering stories that help us see ourselves as we are. More please….

One on One with Zack Smith: Photographer Lucius Fontenot

June 20, 2020

One on One with Zack Smith Photography Episode #1 is in the books…thanks to my buddy and all around one of my favorite photographers Lucius Fontenot. When I say favorite – I mean that – I always look forward to what Lucius is photographing as he is always telling the stories I am interested in and want to hear.

I am doing ZOOM interviews with photographers I want to catch up with and check in on. I hope you enjoy this, share, and visit Lucius’ website (see video!)

One on One with Zack Smith: Macro Photography with David Scarbrough

June 20, 2020

One on One with Zack Smith Photography #2 is here – Up close (1:1 and 4:1 – haha) with photographer David Scarbrough – BokehNola Photography – and we got into some detail about is stellar macro photography. Look and share!

One on One with Zack Smith: Photographer Kathy Anderson

June 10, 2020

If you live in New Orleans, LA or Orleans, France you have seen Kathy Anderson’s photos…trust me! Kathy is a photojournalist, wedding and portrait photographer who works and creates in New Orleans but her images and stories are seen worldwide.

Her photographs were the way you saw and felt the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the streets and in our citizen’s lives. Kathy has a way of making people feel at ease, even so much that a litter of kitten’s could just lay on your lap. Her image of Zydeco great Buckwheat Zydeco (Stanley Dural Jr.) being inundated by newborn kittens is one of my favorite musician portraits ever.

It is tough to be versatile AND talented…

Kathy really does it all, does it all with an ease that makes you jealous. When you can “make space” for kings and soothe the wired nerves of a bride on her most important day AND shoot with technical perfection you know this is a recipe for greatness. In my short talks with Kathy over the last few years with the local ASMP chapter, she carries with her an elevated ease of life, and jovial sense of being.

I have always said that being a good person and having a mastery of your camera is the perfect combination for a career in photography, if you choose it. It’s not the most lucrative, it’s hard work, and it’s ups and downs but being a successful photographer is seen in the subjects one captures…and you see that in Kathy’s.

Zack Smith Photography Reopening Plan

May 16, 2020

As New Orleans, Louisiana begins the reopening phases of business in this COVID19 virus landscape, Zack Smith Photography Studio at 4514 Magazine Street is dedicated to providing a safe, creative, and socially conscious shooting environment for all clients.

Headshot Studio Reopening

These last few weeks have been hard for everyone economically and emotionally all over the world. The most important people I can think of right now are the ones in my family and yours. That’s why I want you to know that I have your family and your business at the center of the reopening strategy of Zack Smith Photography studio. As you plan your next headshot or branding photography project you will know that your safety is #1.

Photo Studio Reopening Checklist

Zack Smith Photography Studio at 4514 Magazine Street Reopening

  1. All photo shoots discussed in full prior to entering studio

    All photo shoots will be discussed in full before meeting at my studio or on location to ensure we know who will be there and how the shoot will go. We want to ensure that any rooms don’t get too crowded or unsafe to be in together.

  2. All shoots are prepay so no money or cards are needed

    In an effort to reduce contact, all photo shoots will be prepaid by invoice prior to entering the studio.

  3. Safe Distancing in the studio

    In order to be compliant with CDC infection control regulations and maintain a safe yet collaborative environment I will have enough room to maintain at least 6ft of distance. All chairs and tables are put up and my computer and work station are pushed to the opposite corner.

  4. One person per shoot at a time

    Due to the size of my studio, it’s safe to shoot only one person per session. If you have a team of people, we will stagger each shot and give enough time in between so I can disinfect between each person.

  5. Studio setup prior to entering

    Your background and lighting scheme will be setup prior to your arrival. This will help us limit the amount of time at the studio and give us the ability to start shooting right away.

  6. Studio disinfected after each client and through the day

    The front door, seat, bathroom and all touched up on items will be cleaned after each client and throughout the day.

  7. Front door hand sanitizing station

    I have a touchless hand sanitizing dispenser inside the front door for your convenience up on entering and leaving the studio.

  8. Client mask rack

    Near your posing stool have a mask rack for you to hang your mask. This rack is disinfected after each client, and throughout the day.

  9. 60″ viewing monitor for your convenience

    Instead of showing you images on my camera as we shoot, I will be shooting (tethering) directly to a large monitor so you can see what we shoot immediately.

From business headshots, portraits, product photography and more – you can trust  I have you and your families health and safety in mind just as I do mine.

Thank you for being patient. I value your trust and loyalty as I look forward to welcoming back regular clients and new ones. I am happy to answer any questions you have about these reopening steps in place to keep you healthy and your business marketing needs running smoothly. Being a New Orleans photographer means more about being creative AND safe in this new environment, and I intend to keep it that way.

Humility in the time of COVID

April 5, 2020

How is it going for you? How does it feel right now? How does having this new global perspective effect the way you view your world, much less THE world in a way you never have?

My thoughts could turn to how bad it is in one country vs my own. I can be thinking of how one city’s COVID19 response differs from my own. I could agree, or disagree, as to how one population isolates and performs its social distance vs another. One thing we can agree on is that we are connected, and we are experiencing a big broad brick wall in our face called humility. So, how does it feel?

April 2020 Smith Family Portrait
April 2020 Smith Family Portrait. ©Zack Smith Photography

Every hour that goes by, we are further pulled from that first day of realizing that this unwanted evolving virus was in our backyard. Every day we wake up no closer to the future of when it will end, but right in the middle of yesterday and tomorrow we have right now.

All we have is right now. Right now is the only time you can call your loved ones, ZOOM with a group of like minds, hold and cherish the ones that can benefit from inside your 6ft zone of comfort.

April 2020 Smith Family Portrait. ©Zack Smith Photography

We have a new reality out here in the USA, Louisiana, St. Bernard Parish, our home. We are grateful one of us still works, while the other spends the day with our daughter. We do what we have to in our own home to get through each day, closer to the day that we can slightly tweak our current reality. There’s hope in knowing soon we’ll meet our new family member, and that’s hopeful. There’s peace in knowing we’ll be even more connected to those around us and when we can finally let them in our little 6ft zone of comfort. That’s comforting.

Easy Exposure Trick for Photographers!

March 18, 2020

Try this easy exposure trick for opening up or stopping down your light without losing the connecting to your subject and camera! It’s so important to remain connected to your subject at all times – directing, observing, and then photographing with your adjustments. The best photographers can observe and direct at the same time, with ease. This easy exposure rule will help you create new habits and improve your photography!

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