Category: Uncategorized

How to use presets in Lightroom

March 16, 2020

How to use preset filters in Lightroom – a video tutorial

One of my favorite ways to spark creativity in the photography editing process is to use preset filters in Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom is an essential tool in my photography editing workflow and the more I can streamline my creative process more efficiently I am able to get out and shoot. It has always been my philosophy that the reason I got into photography is to use my camera to tell stories and the more I am out shooting, the happier I am. As editing my photos is an essential part of my trade and the finishing touch of my photographic process, it’s nice to have some help here and there.

I made this Lightroom video at my photography studio on Magazine Street and I hope it helps you understand a little more about Lightroom preset filters and how to make your own.

Get the Most in Post! How to use presets in Lightroom! from Zack Smith Photography on Vimeo.

Ancestral portraits and how we can see the past with a present through our lens

January 31, 2020


Here are my favorite shots from the November session with Askia Bennett – the talented, humble, laid back creative cat I met at Jazz Fest last year. He was marching w/ the Ole & Nu Style Fellas and it was there i got some of my favorite 2nd line photos.

After photographing him and talking with him during our follow up conversations I am again stuck with the powerful message that we, right now, are our own selves but forever tied to the family, lineage, and ancestors of our past. Our community makes us whole, feeds our inspiration, and helps put soulful strikes and bold fonts in our continuing storyline.

Askia was gracious enough to take some time and bring some of his new pieces to my studio for a session. He came by my Magazine Street studio and for an hour, we made some photos. I wanted to use a combo of red and white backgrounds and some gelled Paul C. Buff, Inc. #einstein lights. It’s nice to have some drama attached to a story such as his…soft light from a large octabox is nice but augment that with some specular colored strobes and you have deeper meanings…that’s just my opinion.

“I have been a member of Ole and Nu for 23 years, since the beginning,” says Askia, which really shows me that each bead and color put into his suit is a long rich story.

“What made me want to join the club, was that, my mother pretty much put me in it. While most kids would want to be held doing a secondline I want to be in the streets dancing to the music../Family is all I know and why wouldn’t I want to be in the best social aid & pleasure club in New Orleans?” answered Asia when I asked what made him want to join the Social Aid club.

Does creativity run in your family? Where does your inspiration come from?
“Creativity definitely runs in the family, my grandmother was very creative. She was a member of the original Baby Doll’s and she also created customs for other clubs during that time. All the inspiration comes from my brother “Trouble” everything you see have come because of his influence and inspiration…all credit is due to him”

At our shoot, Askia kept unloading gear and props..beaded typewriters, golden microphones and red gel binoculars. But one piece caught my interest – a 3 foot tall very lifelike but cartoonish older woman on a stand…
Emelda Lewis-Frank, Askia’s grandmother.

“The statue of her comes from all the years she couldn’t see the family. She started come out the door on secondline day so that was made so she could finally have the opportunity to see us come out the door and see everything from our point of view” says Askia.



How to cull and tag your photographs in Lightroom: A Photography Video Tutorial

January 14, 2020


How to select, rate, and prioritize your photos in Lightroom

Finding the winning photograph to start your editing workflow can be a chore, especially sifting through hundreds, sometimes thousands of losers! I love photographing people, culture, and telling the visual stories of the moments around me. I don’t like sitting in front of a computer trying to find the best ones. Granted, there are those magical times when you are on a portrait shoot or shooting some documentary street photography when you just KNOW the one image that trumps all the others. If you are wise in the field and can get yourself out of the ‘moment’ to tag that shot, then you are winning the culling game.

Learn from me how to cull and tag your BEST images in the video above!

So many people as me “how do I find the best photographs from my shoot and not waste time doing it”? My number one suggestion would be to get familiar with the shortcuts given to you by Lightroom using the numbers 1 through 5 and color code numbers 6-9. If you don’t remember anything from this photo tutorial blog and video, remember that! You can determine what number, or color, means what in how you tag your images. On food photography shoots I like to first number my photos on the first pass, but then give certain photos a color code to differentiate a theme or composition I like/

Using metadata to win the editing game

If your camera allows you to rate your photographs in the field, meaning the ability to rate while shooting, then I feel that is a great way to get a jump start on your photography culling and editing. There are times when I am on a conference photoshoot, or especially on a corporate or business headshot, where I have some downtime to hit the review button and start looking at my image. Anything that you rate on the camera, gets stored in the metadata of the image file. This data is built into the image that will then show up in your Lightroom catalogue. You have the ability to give you images a 1-5 star rating in the camera, which stays with the photo upon importing. This tactic has saved me so much time!

I am going to be posting more helpful photography editing video tutorials on my website and blog in the coming year to help give you 2020 VISION and creative freedom with your photography. If you have any suggestions as to what kind of topics you’d like me to cover, please message me here or email!

Find more helpful editing and tagging blogs posts in my archive!






New Tech Update: New gear and portrait photography during Halloween in New Orleans

November 5, 2019

Me….using my Canon Camera Connect before family portraits on Halloween. I am agreeing with the app.

Me….using my Canon Camera Connect before family portraits on Halloween. I am agreeing with the app.

What better time to try out some new gear than at the greatest portrait holiday ever? Yes you guessed it, Halloween. I don’t know about anywhere else, but in New Orleans we take Halloween seriously. Wether you are going to the store at 6am or picking up your trashcans at 6pm, if it’s October 31st you better be in costume.

Halloween is a feast for the senses, especially for a portrait photographer in New Orleans. Everywhere you go there are some of the most amazing costumes and everyone is acting out their favorite superhero, or not so super super hero right in front of you. What better time to try out some new gear!

Hands on with new gear at Photo Plus and Sony

I recently got back from a trip to Photo Plus in New York where I go to try out many new products from some of the leading photography brands in the world. I had always wanted to attend a photography trade show but my schedule wouldn’t allow. When I found out that Sony was having their Creative Space right across the street, I could’t say no.


I got to try out the new Sony cameras and shoot at a few of their setups and scenes as well as hear first hand from Sony photographers Miguel Quiles and Brooke Shaden about their creative workflow. I also got to visit the Lensbaby booth at Photo Plus and get some hands on shooting with the Omni Creative Filter System. I liked this pack so much, I bought one and had to try it out for Halloween!

Creative portrait photography and storytelling made easy

I love how easily the lens filter system fits my lens, and the magnetic holders allow you to adjust your selected filter to go hands-free so you can create! Trust me I love my prisms and Get Fractal filters (see more on How To Shoot With Prisms) but I do like how you don’t have to constantly hold them in front of you. Kudos to Lens Baby for thinking of this magnet system.



After getting used to the prism filter and the other two (you can see which one I like more..) I decided it was time to unleash them on haunted streets of New Orleans.


New Orleans Headshot story of the month: Reve Realtors

May 20, 2019

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Professional Business Headshots in New Orleans the way YOU want them done.

Reve Realtors is a force to be reckoned with in the New Orleans realtor market. I have enjoyed working with Reve and Clint LaCour to produce professional headshots for their entire staff in New Orleans. Through meetings early on, we established a location and lighting theme for their realtor headshots as they would show online and in social media.

Want a New Orleans photographer that understands your brand?

So many businesses in New Orleans have a clear idea of how they want their brand represented, and I am happy to work with them to create their headshots in the way they want. Sometimes a phone call or meeting is required to talk about your brand identity, lighting style, and overall approach to your companies business headshots and lifestyle branding.


Magazine Street Headshots and Portraits at Zack Smith Photography Studio!

April 24, 2019


Saturday, May 11th from 5p-9p come to my New Orleans photography studio at 4514 Magazine Street for your FREE fast, furious, fantastic headshot while you sip on complimentary champagne. It’s the Magazine Street Champagne Stroll and you’ll want to be where the bottles, lights, and popcorn is POPPIN’. (seriously I am buying a damn popcorn machine right now…). Since 2001, I have made the streets, sidewalks, and neighborhoods of New Orleans into impromptu and creative portrait shoots, and this will be my most creative yet! I will have multiple backgrounds, lighting schemes, and many many new ways to MAKE YOU SAY CHEESE. ok? Don’t believe me? GO HERE…

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 50th Anniversary Museum Exhibit!

April 23, 2019


I am honored to have seven photographs in this unique museum exhibit celebrating “50 years of New Orleans Music and Culture” as Jazz Fest turns 50. Starting in the early 2000’s I enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Relix Magazine and most notably Jambase.com, as they provided a wide outlet to showcase my early editorial photography. My New Orleans photography was able to be featured in both magazines as I was getting my start in the city documenting just about everything. I covered Jazz Fest for Jambase.com from around 2004-2008, and soon after was offered a staff photography position by Jazz Fest in 2009. From 2009-2016 I photographed Jazz Fest with a creative reckless abandon both night and day, going through rolls of film and digital cameras day in day out. As a New Orleans photographer I made precious contacts and kindled long term relationships with so many wonderful people and culture bearers that I keep to this date.

Here’s the press release from Relix.com

This year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will mark the 50th annual iteration of the legendary gathering, and Relix is heading down to Crescent City for a celebration of all things Jazz Fest. Our “50 Years of New Orleans Music & Culture” exhibit at The New Orleans Jazz Museum will feature art and photography from an array of NOLA staples and will host a series of special conversations and events featuring some of our favorite New Orleans-based musicians.

The exhibit will open on April 26, the first Friday of Jazz Fest, and remain at the museum throughout May. The afternoon conversations will kick off on Monday, April 29, with a chat on New Orleans history and music with Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s Ben Jaffe, who also serves as the Creative Director for the band’s namesake building, and writer Walter Isaacson, professor of history at Tulane University and former Chairman/CEO of CNN and Managing Editor of Time Magazine. The following day will feature a presentation from renowned keyboardist/singer-songwriter and longtime New Orleans transplant Jon Cleary, who will offer a musical trip through the history of piano in New Orleans. The series will then wrap up on May 1 with a conversation between two funk icons, Galactic drummer Stanton Moore and legendary Meters bassist George Porter Jr. Relix editors Dean Budnick and Mike Greenhaus will serve as moderators at the events.

Included in the Jazz Museum exhibit will be art and photography from the likes of Michael P. Smith, Sydney Byrd, Danny Clinch, Frenchy, Eric Waters, Clayton Call, Jay Blakesberg, Zack Smith, Scott Saltzman, Dino Perrucci, Marc Millman and Michael Weintrob, along with memorabilia from past Jazz Fests, including a chronological presentation of every official poster from the festival’s five decades.

Relix will also be hosting nighttime events at the museum during Jazz Fest featuring live interviews and panels with iconic members of the New Orleans music and Jazz Fest scene—followed by intimate performances—along with local chefs and mixologists helping to highlight the legendary food and drink culture of the Big Easy.

Read more:https://relix.com/news/detail/announcing-relix-celebrates-50-years-of-new-orleans-music-culture-at-jazz-fest-2019/#ixzz5lvcnYg3U

Mardi Gras 2019 through the eyes of a child, the City is anew...

March 6, 2019


Being able to enjoy New Orleans and Mardi Gras through the eyes of my daughter has been an amazing and humbling experience. With an unbounded curiosity, fearless joy, and child-like surprise – I am able to enjoy a celebration I once felt I was done with. I thought I was done and had experienced it all: the long late nights turned morning, Mardi Gras Indians in backstreets of the city, pre-dawn Skull and Bones, and the revelry and abandonment of cares and responsibility. As that chapter closed in my life, a new one has begun, and the wonder was back just like that.


We caught the beginning of the Krewes of Saint Anne and Saint Cecelia and a truly magical moment when heading home.

Mardi Gras has become to mean so many different things to me over the years, but this year a very special moment happened that I was so happy to have my camera for. .

As Big Chief Alphonse “Dowee” Robair and the 9th Ward Black Hatchett Hunters pose for a big group shot over the 9th Ward canal, I could see my friend and legendary photographer Eric Waters directing through the colors and mayhem. People were shouting, car horn’s were honking, boats were waiting to get through as the Indians made time to sit still for an epic photo be made.

I hope you enjoy these photos of our adventure through the Bywater with the Krewe of Saint Anne and St. Cecelia, and our wonderful meeting with the Big Chief!

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Carlo Nuccio, Doug Garrison, and Anthony Cuccia – the greatest drumline of any parade!

 Jan Beignet Ramsey…oh boy!

Jan Beignet Ramsey…oh boy!

 Big Chief Alphonse “Dowee” Robair and the 9th Ward Hatchett Indians, formerly of CTC post at the 9th Ward Industrial Canal bridge.n n nn n n

Big Chief Alphonse “Dowee” Robair and the 9th Ward Hatchett Indians, formerly of CTC post at the 9th Ward Industrial Canal bridge.

 9th Ward Hatchett Indians,

Medical Residency headshots made easy in the Big Easy

February 26, 2019

My New Orleans Medical Residency Headshot Workflow

Having a professional headshot when working in the medical residency industry or applying for a program is vital to being chosen and accepted. At Zack Smith Photography, I get many requests for Medical Residency and Residency Application headshots and I love using the folks at Fix The Photo FixThePhoto to aid me in my editing workflow.

What to edit when working with Medical Residency headshots?

Did you know on average you are 10 times more likely to be chosen if you have a good-looking headshot image? On the example of two professional headshots taken at my studio, I did the color correction editing before I sent them to Fix the Photo for hair fly away and backgrounds. Their main purpose is to offer high-quality and affordable headshot photo editing services to all medical residency candidates to help make their chances of landing their dream residency higher.

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I have enjoyed a long-time working relationship with Fixthephoto.com, and their editor’s level of expertise is unmatched. My business is located in Uptown New Orleans, Louisiana and there is no shortage of clients that are looking for the perfect headshot to promote their brand and business. I have recently sent a lot of my Medical Residency headshots to Fixthephoto to help with hair flyaways and skin retouching. A well-crafted and professional headshot is the first impression a potential employer sees of these medical students and I need the photos to look their best.

Medical Residency Headshot Photo Editing Tips for Beginners

It’s vitally important for you to show confidence, intelligence, and approachability in your headshot. These first impressions about you are being made in 1/10th of a second, so make sure your headshot is of high quality. Usually, your headshot is shown on a large monitor in front of a group of people, so it should be saved in high resolution and without distracting flaws. Having a headshot without professional lighting and a white background can seriously make your photo of low quality.

First of all, a white background or light grey background is always an advantage for placing your headshot on websites or attaching to documents. It allows you to concentrate the attention of viewers completely on you. You should remove all unnecessary objects from the background and yourself. Another useful photo editing step is cropping. The second important step is photo color correction. Tones and hues play a vital role in headshot photo editing and you should adjust the white balance, contrast, and brightness settings to make your headshot look perfect. It also helps remove unnatural skin color and makes white color realistically white. If necessary, you can also do skin retouching: remove blemishes, reddish spots, etc. Frequency separation in Photoshop is the best method to make natural but perfect skin texture.

As you work with a portrait, you should make eyes bright, teeth white, remove flyaway hair/add volume, add digital make-up (be careful with this step), make glasses glare correction or even body/face reshaping. Another important action is to make clothes smooth. This may seem like alot to do and think about, but at Zack Smith Photography studio I

After doing headshot photo editing, don’t forget about the photo format and its specifications. Last but certainly not least, make sure your headshot conforms to the website/document specifications!

Photographing Mardi Gras in New Orleans with the Krewe of Chewbacchus

February 12, 2019

In my 5th year photographing the amazing Chewbacchus parade, I don’t think I have seen this many people in the parade and along the parade route. I can only expect that they broke records in krewe attendance and parade watchers. The streets of the Marigny and especially Frenchmen St. were packed 5 and 6 rows deep with people gawking at the sci-fi themed parade. I slimmed down my gear for this parade and only brought my Canon G7x – and here are a few of my favorite shots.


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