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New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival - "Days n'between"

April 21, 2014

days between” means different things to different ‘fest goers’. To
most, it means the few days in b/t jazz fest weekend where you can rest,
keep pawtyin’, throw a pawty, or work. To me, “the days between” means
the week in b/t shooting French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest – and it’s
never a time of rest. With so much going on in my world right now, there
hasn’t been a moment to reflect – so that’ why i am now.

solo exhibit, “One Foot in the Swamp – Portraits and Daydreams as
Photographs” opened last weekend and we had a blast. It was great timing
to open that weekend, as we got a ton of press! Here’s a bit Eric
Paulsen and WWLtv did;


Here’s a snap of me, Eric, and Luke Winslow-King…in front of one of my photos of LWK…

French Quarter Fest went by so fast this year and it was a blur – i had a great team of volunteer photographers working w/ me to capture the festival and we covered so much ground. I really enjoy photographing French Quarter Fest as I am at task to “capture the spirit and magic moments” of the festival. Just picture the beautiful backgrounds of the historic French Quarter as your pallet and the dancing, music, and New Orleans light as your actors. You can’t beat it! After 5 days photographing this festival I really do feel connected to the French Quarter, the light, and the music. Peter and Tamara worked with me all weekend, helping me edit each days images, tag and organize in Photoshop and Bridge as well as help with lighting.

My “days between” the festival have been slammed with studio work for Krewe du Optic, prepping for my classes, and editing French Quarter Fest. I am almost relieved i will be running around at the fairgrounds this FRIDAY!

And as always, one of my favorite shows to shoot is The New Orleans, BINGO! show…who’s isn’t?

Life. It's about doing what you love, being with who you love, and living in a city that loves you back.

April 4, 2014

I have always felt that spring in New Orleans is when this city shines..and if what you do has something to do w/ what makes this city so wonderful..shouldn’t you shine? I always have felt it right when the weather changes, at the times i am ramping up to shoot French Quarter Festival into — Jazz Fest–into new personal work –> playing ALOT of music at these festivals at the same time…with the occasional night show – that this is what life is about. It’s about doing what you love, being with who you love, and living in a city that loves you back.

I felt it big tonight, loading in my new drumset in my bands new practice space, on the verge of promoting and releasing a new album we recently finished. Playing it, felt right – hearing instruments, felt right.

And for some reason, like the smell of cut grass brings in childhood nostalgia, i remembered a Pink Floyd record i used to listen to…ALOT. “The Division Bell” – came out in 1994, as i was entering my sophomore year in college, learning alot about myself, where i fit in the world, and what made things work. And even now, I feel like i am JUST figuring out how things work and knowing enough how to work the things. 20 years ago, it seems just like yesterday – and although the time is gone, the feeling is not.

I have always felt you need to know where you come from to know where you are going. On so many levels this has always rung true. From discovering, learning, and celebrating my heritage, to remembering a time when i was growing, the seeds planted then are growing as i keep on going.

One Foot in the Swamp - opens April 12th at Scott Edwards Gallery!

March 31, 2014

One Foot in the Swamp: Portraits and Daydreams as Photographs

Opening Reception: April 12, 6pm-12am
On Display:
Front Gallery: April 12 – June 7
Back Gallery: June 14 – August 2, 2014

Scott Edwards Gallery is pleased to present Zack Smith -“One Foot in the Swamp – Portraits and Daydreams as Photographs.” This exhibition includes a collection of 16 large photographs culled from creative and commercial projects of portraits of musicians, showcasing his approach to creative visual storytelling, or “environmental portraits” as Smith likes to call it.

Smith, in conjunction with Scott Edwards Gallery will be offering a limited edition, two color 14” x 22” HATCH SHOW PRINT.  Opened in 1879, Hatch Show Print is one of oldest continuously running letterpress print shops in America. Included with every Hatch Show Print will be a limited edition, signed and numbered, 8” x 12” pigment print of the exhibitions figurehead shot – “Seth Walker, 2014.”

Press releases are fancy. I love reading about myself in 3rd person sometimes, reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where they had that friend who always talked in 3rd person. Confusion and comedy ensued. I hope there’s no confusion here..i am very proud of my new gallery show opening next week at Scott Edwards Gallery.  I am extremely honored to have Scott working with me on this show, his drive and unique ideas (such as the limited edition Hatch Show Print, cmon!) make me feel like my work will be celebrated and shown the right way. I am also very excited to see my work in the 32″x48″ realm..printed by the best…Cameron Wood. It feels like a team, cause it is.

During the photo shoots from all of these images, i rely upon the collaboration and communication from my subjects, my assistance from my, well, assistants –  Mandy, Peter, and Tamara, to get the job done. Now it’s on to the next phase of photography; presentation. As i have said to everyone who has ever taken a photography class from me in the 12 years i have been teaching at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art…”shoot for the wall” – has never meant so much. It is here that the process of creativity is finalized. It is on the gallery wall, or the brick wall, or grandma’s wood panel hallway – the proof, being in the print.

I hope to see you all at the gallery on April 12th..i’ll be there around 9p – coming in from shooting French Quarter Festival. whew…

Knights of Nemesis Parade 2014 - St. Bernard Parish

February 22, 2014

2014 is a great year – new opportunities, great change and i now live 1 block off the parade route in Chalmette….i traded up. Even though writer Michael Patrick Welch moved to the West Bank, he found his way in the parade.

January 2014 - Me? I just make pictures - "Circle Comes Around"

January 25, 2014

As i said in an earlier post, this year has taken off. I was even more psyched to have a visit from my friend and yours Jeff Treffinger a musician, producer/engineer and contractor who recorded  1st album at the Mermaid Lounge of all places. He was at my studio to shed some ideas and whatnot on what i got going – he then sent over NY/NO gator-hunter-photographer Dwight Marshall to draw plans up for my shed. It’s always a testament to where i live when the folks helping me w/ my shed on the construction end are musicians, artists, photographers, and creative folks….why would i pay some one i don’t know, who ONLY does this kind of shit for their pay instead of friends who can give me real life advice, having had studios in NY and London, and created recording spaces out of nothing?

I feel like the circle comes around again – happy to have these guys on board. It’s also nice to have my live-in designer, Shez Crafty, to advise w/ the finer things and feel of my new studio. Also our friend Jensen Killen is helping w/ design and layout. Me? I just make pictures.

Joseph Makkos story

(for Columbia Journalism Review)

Staff at Harriet Tubman Charter School

BB King at The CIVIC

Michelle and Joseph Wedding Party

Joseph and Michelle

All images ©Zack Smith Photography 2013 and 2014. These images may not be used in any way other than for your enjoyment, right here, on this blog. Thank you.

2014 - Spicy Start - New Ways to Turnaround

January 18, 2014

New Work with Tabasco, Seth Walker and Time Warner-Cable…but I see turnaround times shrinking fast!

This year is gotten off to a pretty good start: a nice new round of client proposals and my first product shoot of the year for the McIlhenny Company and a new spice Tabasco is launching..I got to use my new studio out in the Parish as Tamara and I knocked it out in a half day on our way to a 24 hour turnaround on edits..not bad. I’ll send some photos when the ads are in..

I have seen a reoccurring trend happening in the last few years with corporate clients as it pertains to turnaround times. It used to be at least a 1-2 week turnaround time if we were dealing with film, since we had to process, scan, edit and send actual proof “sheets”. In the last 10 years i was getting an average of 5-7 days turnaround with digital for large clients (most working w/ a creative team, and/or Marketing Department). This is ok if you have your digital editing workflow down and you can pump out some selects and low-res proofs to the client immediately after a shoot. Normally if the shoot entails 1 or 2 setups and the edits are not too intense, then 24 hour turnarounds are not too bad but communication should be at an all time high since timing is crucial – and re-edits are often needed.

In this case, I had a great time setting up the product shot in trying to achieve my goal of in-camera editing and leaving not much for me to do in post, and it worked. The only big issue was that the one configuration of bottles I did not shoot was what they wanted …so I had to hire my good friend Saki w/ Lumos Retouching to do some fancy post editing and she killed it in a short amount of time.

Next time I will photograph each and every configuration humanly possible so that I don’t have to hire out for editing, it’s just easier that way. It only takes a few more minutes and you don’t to re-set the lights!

Later on this month I have a job with Time Warner Cable, Jensen Tuna Company, Seth Walker-musician, and starting to gear up for marching in some Mardi Gras parades. 2014 doesn’t stop…Rotary Downs album release March 22nd, playing Jazz Fest 1st Friday, also – my solo photography show at

Scott Edwards Gallery

opening April 12th! More details….

Be on the lookout: i will be announcing my RAW Workflow Workshop at the Propeller March 27th


I just got back from a deer hunt in Luverne, Alabama, and waking up before the sun was a great opportunity for some sunrise photography! Enjoy!

Student Photography at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art

December 17, 2013

Little known fact – my very first job in New Orleans (almost the week i landed from life on the road) was lab technician for the darkroom at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art. Local photo-hero Victoria Ryan was a guest darkroom instructor while i was learning at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in MT, and she was the head of the photo dept at NOAFA.

Zack – “hey Victoria, it’s Zack Smith, the Louisiana guy you taught in at RMSP”
Victoria – “Who?”
Zack – “the homeless hairy guy from Lafayette. We talked about NOLA”
Victoria – “Oh yea, come on by”

And so it began. i had a key to the darkroom and depending on who was printing and how busy they were, i’d fill chemicals during the day, night, and middle of the night right before or after a show at Tipitina’s….we’ll, we were Uptown. I met a host of characters there i still see from time to time – darkroom enthusiasts, and your local creative folks such as Erika Goldring, Maja Georgiou, Millie Fuller, Rachel Brennecke and many others. It was around 2002 that i begged Victoria to let me offer a class i created called New Orleans at Night,  a field class that taught folks how to shoot at night and in low light situations using ambient and artificial light. I was shooting ALOT in the clubs back then, and kind of became known for it – so, i taught it. And this year i just finished up my 11th year teaching it, sometimes 3x a year.

I met and taught (and learned with) so many people – and some even still do night photography today and are really good at it – Erika Goldring, Alen Zakem, Cathy Weeks, Scott Simon and others. As i enter the fall of my 13th year working, and 11th year teaching – want to show you some of my favorite images my students have shot – consider this a gallery, a pitch, a thank you.

©photographer cited

Joe Tighe
Elodie Chaubert
Cathy Weeks

Cathy Weeks

Matt Foster

Veronica Murphy
Natasha Srour

Natasha Srour
Alan Zakem
Meranda Caswell

Zack Smith Photography Current Shows!

December 9, 2013

Yep that’s me, I tell stories and take pictures. You can currently see a few of my ongoing collections at these fine establishments. I am excited to be showing my Voodoo Fest portraits from 2008-2012 at St. Lawrence, Chaz Fest Portraits at Three Muses, and Musician Portraits at Satsuma Cafe uptown!

Great poster design by the one and only Scott Campbell.

As Fall Comes in Fall Changes - My 1st Voodoo Fest

October 30, 2013

I am a big fan of repetition and consistency. Even in my
‘worst of times’ i strove on repetition, symmetry, and excessive
moderation. But breaking repetition, can lead to opportunity if looking
w/ new eyes.

From 2002-present during the last weekend
of April and the 1st weekend of May you will find me at the Fairgrounds
shooting Jazz Fest. From 2002-2008 for myself and Jambase.com and from 2009-present shooting as staff photographer for Jazz Fest. (11 years)

2000-2008 during the middle weekend of April you could find me walking
around at the best free festival in the land, French Quarter Fest…and
from 2009-present, as staff photographer.

This month in Zack Smith Photography - collectors corner, Ponderosa Stomp, CIVIC Theater Shows,

October 21, 2013

October has been rolling along. With the onset of some crisp autumn (do we get that here?) weather has brought new clients, new ideas, and some interesting opportunities. First i want to show you a photo that was just sent to me (upon my request) by Stephanie Loman of herself sitting w/ her two Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown framed prints. The images were shot on assignment for RELIX Magazine, i’ll tell you the story again one day…

Stephanie purchased these two at my 2007 show – “None A Stranger” at the Big Top. I can’t believe it’s been 6 years since “None a Stranger” – that was the year my camera and i finally emerged from the Katrina funk of cutting trees and trying to get my old life back and make new clients in an ever changing New Orleans. I had felt it was time to showcase my portrait work, which not many people had seen – most of it was personal work or editorial work. I had not done much work w/ music labels and musicians yet and was wanting needing the public to know that “this guy’s for hire”.

The show was a great success not only in selling prints (this was pre-economy crash mind you) but getting the word out there. After that show i soon teamed up with Blake Haney and curated and ran the CANARY Gallery on Julia for two years, showing new portraits every 6 months and working with established and up and coming artists.


I had known about the Ponderosa Stomp for a few years, possibly going to it when it was at the House of Blues one year, and i wanted to be a part of it this year. I messaged the Stomp’s director/founder Dr. Ira Padnos and asked if i could have an opportunity to shoot portraits of the musicians – and luck had it that their usual portrait person – my friend Aubrey Edwards, was out of town shooting. With the good graces of Aubrey and Ike w/ me – i set up a simple background and rented a nice Wall Light from Jose at Available Lighting – i had never rented this before but i was going to shoot 4×5 and medium format – i wanted a powerful, yet cool, consistent light. Here are some – (names at the bottom)

Baby Washington, Chris Clark, David Batiste, Eddie Daniels, SWAMP DOGG, Spencer Wiggins, Ty Segal.

This month i also continued my documentation of the Shows at the Civic w/ The Black Crowes, JJ Grey and Mofro, and Robert Cray

I also finished a great photo shoot w/ local musician Andrew Block, for his upcoming promotion and album artwork. We did alot of new and interesting looks using gels and “seasonal” locations…images coming soon.

Stay tuned, and keep visiting the blog!

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