I had a client recently want some photos we took that spanned an entire decade. How do I locate photographs I did that aren’t currently connected to my computer? This question and more are answered as we deep dive into HARD DRIVE TRUTHS.
Ok, I am kidding a little but this is a real situation that is happening now and I thought I would make a video to share with you. Enjoy!
2018 was a very special year in photography for me. As my business grew so did the new experiences both up and down. Every photo shoot I did this year was met with a new outlook as I challenged myself to find the good in each moment and learn from each experience. I met countless realtors, lawyers, artists, business owners, families, models, and entrepreneurs. My goal this year was to be able to grow my business and studio on Magazine Street and at the same time, keep my creative impulses satiated and continue to make new artistic collaborations. At the same time my New Orleans photography workshop offerings continued to fill and bring in new curious minds wanting to know how to photograph their world with creative confidence. I am grateful for all those who have helped me keep my businesses going as a photographer, teacher, and consultant. I want to thank all of my family, friends, and assistants for supporting me on long days on the job, out of town, and on the hustle. These photos are for you. Enjoy my favorite people, places, and moments of 2018.
Storytelling 2018: A year of portraits in New Orleans
Focus on the eyes and you can see the soul…I feel that capturing the best version of someone can’t be done without some background knowledge of who they are, what their dreams are, and what they want to achieve. Any portrait I do involves some homework to produce an image that works for my client and that I feel proud out.
Selling the Brand 2018: A year of Commercial Photography in New Orleans
“Using photography to help a brand sell a product or service”. That’s how I like to define commercial and brand photography. I have enjoyed meeting so many driven and inspired business owners while helping them create their visual identity. Here are some of my favorite commercial photo shoots from 2018.
Singing for your Supper 2018: Music and Festival photography
I was truly blessed to be able to be around such amazing music, musicians, and culture bearers in 2018. As my business steered towards headshots and branding, I never lost the focus and connections that got me to where I am today. Being able to photograph Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest and continue to be involved in the creative energy of New Orleans humbles me to the bone.
Year of the New Orleans Headshot 2018: Face is the place!
Since opening my headshot studio at 4514 Magazine Street in New Orleans I haven’t spent this much time uptown since I lived on Jefferson in 2003! I love making the commute to work and meet the movers, shakers, and creators of this city!
These are a few of my favorite things 2018: Behind the Scenes!
As much as the portraits and branding have kept me busy this year, I still have time to photograph the things I love. My family, nature, and those random moments are always in my sight as I try to keep the balance between work and life. Here’s to pursuing YOUR dreams and making what you love be what you do in 2019!
I don’t’ do as much editorial photography these days as it’s not as much on my radar as it used to be. My world is full of commercial and brand story telling which is half real and half created to sell a product or service. Editorial photography tells the real story, no bells or whistles. I was honored to work on a project with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ 64 Parishes magazine that reported on a story I had no idea existed. The camera has introduced me to people and stories I would have otherwise never been involved in, and this instance is no different. I hope you visit the site to read more!
I am very blessed to work with so many New Orleans artists who not only excel at their craft but offer their gifts. I have been working with Nick Pino of Dumbsmart Industries for the last 2 years to help create my marketing videos and I am very proud of our latest collaboration for my New Orleans headshot business. We filmed my clients both in my studio on Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans and on location to show viewers a small glimpse into my brand. Please share this post if you like, it would mean alot to me!
This one-of-a-kind night and art photography course can only take place one time of year: The Arts Council of New Orleans’ Luna Fete: a celebration of art, light, and technology.
Join me as I guide you through the artistically illuminated night sky of Fulton Street and Lafayette Square, as we photograph the light based projection mapping and intricate digital sculptures made by artists around the country.
I have photographed this amazing night of lights in New Orleans, and I have actually led a free photo walk when the event was new. The high quality and interaction of art has come so far in the last few years and I can’t wait to photograph it with you!
In New Orleans it is truly evident that so many life passions and careers are influenced and inspired by the power and talent of one man: Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. If you don’t know what I am talking about, listen to Louis more than you are now or come down during Satchmo Fest during the first weekend of August. Every panel talk, solo, and song is in some way inspired by and driven with the spirit of Satchmo.
I feel that is why this small New Orleans music festival that is put on by French Quarter Festivals Inc. sets the stage for some of the most passioned playing you’ll ever see in this city. French Quarter Festival, Jazz Fest, and all the other “fests” are a great way to see some of the best New Orleans and Louisiana music in the world in one place. But no other festival comes close to creating a community mindset and mood such as Satchmo Fest. Just think about it. Your artistic goal is to invoke and thank the spirit and talent of a man so influential to the world of jazz as Louis Armstrong…you KNOW the music will be unique, powerful, and moving. I hope these photos do it justice….
Please spread this gallery around so all can enjoy! Tag and Share with your friends!I know I am missing some names so if you see someone not credited LET ME KNOW! I am sending the gallery out to the musicians I know that are featured but please post-away! I am so forever grateful for the opportunity to create and document the heart of such a wonderful city, much less be trusted to show the spirit of SATCHMO Fest. This gallery features in order: Edna Karr Band, Matt Rhody, Charlie Halloran, Doyle Cooper, AJ Gaulton (drying out SATCHMO), Yoshio Toyama, The Big Cheezy, Plum St. Snowballs, James Williams (band), Brice Miller of Mohogany Brass Band, Yolanda Windsay, Fans of Sacthmo Fest, Topsy Chapman and Solid Harmony, Torrence Taylor w/ Joe Lastie’s, Will Smith, Joe Lastie, Peter Harris, Calvin Johnson, AJ Gaulton (smoking), Cory Henry, TBC Brass Band, Hassan “Too” Goffner, Cedric Wiley, Oswald Jones, aka Boe Monkey, Bday Boy Jon Gross, Cinnamon Black and Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, Shannon of TBC Brass Band, Sudan Social Aid and Pleasure Club, Undefeated Divas and Gents SAPC, Big 6 and TBC Brass Band, Shotgun Jazz Band, Storyville Stompers, Robin Barnes, Irma Thomas, Jeremy Davenport with Nicholas Payton, Trumpet Mafia, Donald Harrison Jr., Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown with son, Ashlin Parker.
Tyla and David on the streets of New Orleans where environment, style, and fashion meet.
Surrounded by the riches of scene and comforted by the periphery of environment we are spoiled photographers in New Orleans. Walk anywhere with a shallow depth of field mind and keen eye for focus and you will find an abundance of your best photographs yet to be taken. Bring a pen or bring a pad, you’re gonna be jotting down intersections, street names, and GPS coordinates until you run out of room or time. There are so many. Too many.
I have a few images to share from a recent fashion branding shoot with Canal Place in New Orleans where I got to work with some top tier talent in front and behind the camera. Over an 8 hour period we shuffled our crew to 5 locations and created some of my favorite location portraits yet. I brought with me my trusty Paul C. Buff Alien Bees mostly for their light weight and ease of “run and gun” mode. I was using a single softbox and reflector on most images and balancing the sun with my Variable Neutral Density Filter set. As you can see I am not a big fan of “LOOK AT MY STROBES” when I shoot portraits. I think using a subtle lighting approach to environmental portraits for branding is the key to make the clients product shine and the city do it’s thing. Here are a few I can share, but first the credits:
Client: Canal Place
Design Agency: Deep Fried Advertising
Talent Agency: FiftyTwo45 / Talent: Tyla, David, and Megan
Why Use Lightroom and Photoshop to Improve Your Editing and Workflow? Here’s Why!
We spend so much time on our intuitive creative eye to capture our best photographic moments. In order to be the best photographs we can be, we need to take seriously our post production workflow with whatever applications we use. At this point in my career I am loving my Lightroom and Photoshop combination.
Photography editing used to be very difficult. Ask me, I know! I remember buying and downloading Photoshop 1 and each following app to help push pixels around. Do you remember that? The process was slow, your tools were limited, and the interface was truly old school! Now, powerful photo editing capabilities are available at the tip of our fingers from our phone to our desktops and laptops. Editing is useful and very much needed to help adjust the tone and color correct, as well as crop and straighten photos.
Lightroom and Photoshop are both Adobe programs that allow you to manipulate a photo and improve it. In this blog post, I will share a little about each program and why they are great to use and I will talk a little bit about metadata and why it is important!
Why Is Adobe Lightroom Important for Photographers?
There are a few reasons why Lightroom is important for photographers. To begin, it is important to know the primary purpose of Lightroom. The program is a photo processor and image organizer that allows a photographer to view, organize and retouch a large number of digital images…sometimes all at once in batch processing!
One very good thing about Lightroom is that it is very easy to use. You don’t have to learn a whole lot of tips and tricks to use it properly. Here are a few of the things you can do with your photos in Lightroom:
· Import your photos into Lightroom: This process is basic. Just tell Lightroom where it can find your photos and allow it to import them. You can do this with individual photo files or with a large batch of photos.
· Make basic adjustments: Use Lightroom to touch up the color and tone of your photo. You can also crop or straighten your photo and correct perspectives and lens distortions. If you’ve ever edited photos at a Kodak kiosk inside of a drug store, you’ll find that many of the capabilities are the same.
· Isolate and edit certain areas of your photo: You can use a brush tool to go over areas that need specific color adjustments, need to look sharper or blurrier, and more.
· Group your photos with keywords: Keywords are photographer-added tags that describe the contents of a photo. After you group your photo, you can export your file. When the keyword you’ve added to your photo is searched on any application that supports XMP metadata, it will come up as a search hit. So i’ll tell you a little bit about metadata later. Lightroom keywords are very important! Not only can they help you find photos you’ve saved, it is a great tool for organizing your images in based on theme, location, and any other metric that you deem important to the subject! These are just a few of the many things Lightroom has to offer photographers.
Why Is Photoshop Important for Photographers?
Photoshop is an extremely powerful application that can handle pretty much any kind of editing you need to do. This program does take a bit longer to learn, but you will be able to do so much more, as far as editing goes, with it. I usually make the statement: Lightroom is for heaving lifting editing, and Photoshop is for your razor sharp fine tuning. Here are a few of the program’s capabilities:
· Basic photo editing: Much like Lightroom, you can use Photoshop to touch up the colors and tones in your images. You can also crop and straighten your images as well.
· Beyond basic photo editing: This is where Lightroom and Photoshop diverge. In Photoshop, you can alter images by changing the colors within the image, modifying its size and scale, cut out the background of an image using layers and so much more. The capabilities that Photoshop offers are usually harnessed by graphic designers to make stunning works of art. I enjoy being about to select certain images and differentiate them based on an instrument, color of clothes, and being able to separate food, portraits, and panoramic views at a festival!
· Save in several different formats: You can save photos you edit in Photoshop in different file formats that will work best for your project. Some websites only accept JPEG or PNG images, while some people may want an EPS or TIF file. PSD files aren’t great for uploading outside of Adobe-friendly programs, but the great thing about them is that they open up in the program and you could continue editing where you left off instead of starting from scratch with an original image. As you can see, Photoshop has a lot to offer any photographer. Now, how to choose?
Why Not Choose Both Lightroom and Photoshop?
Lightroom and Photoshop are both awesome programs. You can easily use them both in tandem and are available in a VERY affordable subscription package from Adobe using the Creative Cloud. I think it’s only around $11 a month! But if you are looking to choose, here are some things to think about:
· What editing capabilities do you need? If you’re looking for editing basics like the ability to crop, straighten, and adjust the tone or color of a photo, Lightroom is a great option for you. However, if you want to further manipulate and enhance your photos, Photoshop offers what Lightroom does and then some.
· What type of photography are you doing? A lot of the answer from the previous question may help you answer this one too. If you’re mainly taking photos for assignments or freelance, and have the need to create proofing galleries, separate categories and more, Lightroom may be the best option for you. If you want to get a little more in depth with the editing process, Photoshop may be best for you. Most people who use Photoshop are creative photographers who use the program to enhance their photos for creative purposes.
· What do you have time to learn? Everyone is busy these days. If you don’t have a lot of time to learn a program, Lightroom is going to be the easiest to master. If you have some time, Photoshop is better…maybe even both! You get to use tools that you don’t normally find in other editing programs. These tools take time to learn and understand. If you have the time and patience, Photoshop is best for you.
· Do you need workflow solutions? If you’re looking for an end-to-end workflow solution (which many photographers need), Lightroom is superior to Photoshop. In the program, you can important, edit, organize, share, and even print your photos. Photoshop allows a photographer to edit photos individually, but organizing them just isn’t the same outside of Lightroom. Lightroom uses those keywords I was talking about earlier
What Is Metadata And Why Is It Important For Photographers?
So, what is metadata? Metadata is, get this, a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. In the case of photographers, metadata is data that is used to describe and give information about photos. Lightroom, as previously mentioned, allows a photographer to assign keywords to an image. The keywords are transformed into metadata that effectively tags the photo. The photographer can then search for the keyword and find what they are looking for easily.
Sorting photos with the use of metadata saves photographers a lot of time and can improve their workflow. Here is an example. If you’re a wedding photographer, you can attach a keyword to the photos of each wedding you do. You can choose, let’s say, the couple’s shared last name as the keyword. Now, when a photographer is ready, he can pull up the photo using the keyword search without any problem.
A photographer can also organize pictures they take at a zoo by using a special keyword. This keyword could be the name of the zoo or maybe something special to the photographer. Something the photographer wouldn’t forget.
The great thing about the metadata produced in Lightroom is that it is compatible with several other pieces of software. Some of the software it works with includes Photoshop, ACDSee Pro 10, Daminion 4.6, DigiKam 5.0, ExifTool 10.46, FotoStation 8, Image Relay 5.0, Portfolio 2.5.3, WPMeta 1.3, and so many more.
It is obvious that both of these Adobe photo editing programs are top notch in their own respects. Lightroom is great for photographers who are working professionally. Many of them barely touch Photoshop because they can do all of their editing, organizing, sharing, and printing in Lightroom. Photoshop, however, is great for the creative photographer and graphic designer. If you’re still unsure which of these programs may be best for you, Adobe makes it easy. The company is currently offering a “photography” package. This is an annual plan that you can pay for monthly. Get this: for only $9.99 a month, you can have access to Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC, giving you the essentials you need to organize, edit, share, and print your photos on your desktop and mobile devices. If you want access to only Photoshop, you’ll have to pay about $20 a month. For more information on these packages, visit Adobe.com.
I was honored to have been a recent guest on the acclaimed and long running podcast “It’s a Good Life Babe” where hosts Geoff and Joel sit down with New Orleans makers, movers, and shakers at their living room table to talk shop. I was more candid than I ever have been in an interview, talking opening about photography rates, social media, business headshots, and my new studio on Magazine Street. We talked openly, off the cuff, and let it all hang out on this podcast. I hope you will listen!
We even touched upon my exciting upcoming New Orleans Photography Experience Workshop and why it’s important to “credit the culture” – CLICK HERE to learn more about that…then listen below!
Being a New Orleans creative means being able to balance the business of photography and the creativity of the spirit.
What I most enjoy about what I do, solving the visual problem and creating the dream for my clients (thank you Frank Relle), has everything to with being given the opportunity to listen. I have the unique opportunity to listen to people, mostly strangers of different ilk, explain their dreams and desires of how they and their brand want to look. Only given a few context clues, I must then sleuth around their mind using contextual words and images to bring out the true vision. Sound complicated…it’s not. Business branding, lifestyle photography, fine art and even headshots can be rewarding to both sides in terms of delivery of goods (photos) and services (the actual photo shoot) when done right. I hope you’ll listen to the podcast and comment here!
What’s the big deal about babies, business headshots and and studios anyway?
2017 has been a whirlwind of a year. A year of many firsts and falls and get backups. I never thought I would be shooting so many headshots, open a studio on Magazine Street and photograph thousands of images of a baby. Well, she is my baby.
I mean really, look at that angelic face, who wouldn’t want to photograph her for, like, ever? Well I never thought I would be photographing kids, ever! In the last 6 months I have even worked with kids on New Orleans Tourism shoots, French Market Corporation shoots and photographing some friends kids. Never. Say. Never…
You can learn so much as a photographer by stepping outside of your comfort zone.
In my line of work I get hired because I can provide for my client a consistent, structured, and creative result for their visual branding needs. This type of commercial photography takes alot time and energy spent talking and emailing about ideas, aesthetic, and how images will be used ad nauseam. I talk with my clients about lighting schemes, compositions, and the exact number of images produced and where how the deliverables will be implemented into their website and marketing materials. Needless to say there is a lot of control that goes into producing and photographing the type of work I do. There is absolutely NO controlling a kid. You just. got. to. BE.
There are tricks to make kids smile, I just use patience. Or, have a kid and hang around for the magic.
With the birth of our daughter Vega, I went into full “dad mode” and have never looked back. I keep my family safe, practice unconditional love, and never ever have a camera further than 1 foot from my shutter finger. The faces and moments are far too many to record, but I am sure as hell giving it my best shot. I don’t want to miss anything, and the odds are I will get some really really bad shots and a few great ones. As a professional photographer that does NOT specialize in newborn or kids or “tween” photography, I can’t use this fatherly approach. I am totally fine with that. I have great respect for the newborn, kid, and family photographers out there who are blessed with the patience and wherewithal to coax the emotion out of a group of strangers.
There are tricks to make adults relax, and it’s not saying “act natural” during a professional headshot.
Oh, another thing I said I would never do? Professional business headshots. To me, in my up and coming days as a seeker of adventure and experience TTL (through the lens for those that know) I was dead set on letting the music and culture of my surroundings guide my creative muse as well as my business plan. What I did not realize was that I was possibly missing out on meeting passionate entrepreneurs and dedicated CEO’s of New Orleans. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees, especially stumbling through the 6th ward on a Sunday at 4:30pm, beer in one hand and camera in the other. Yeah, I was having a blast and finding my way and I wouldn’t trade it for a moment.
2017 has had more purpose infused in every shutter click and proposal sent.
I am photographing not only for me, but for my family, my daughter, and for my city. 2017 was the year I completed 10 produced day shoots with talent and 160 hours of events and festivals for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and New Orleans Tourism and Marketing. I photographed 15 new produced lifestyle photoshoots for Chase Bank’s new branding and mobile app. 2017 had me in three different cities producing original lifestyle tourism photographs for Brand USA, our country’s tourism agency. Again I was honored to be principal photographer for French Quarter Fest, Satchmo Fest, Bayou Country Superfest, three stellar music festivals in New Orleans.
In 2017 I took my business public. I opened my first photography studio on Magazine Street in New Orleans.
In my 20th year of photographing the world around me and my 13th year of photography being my sole source of income – I bit the bullet and opened my studio. My dojo, my HQ, the new home of ideas and momentum.
Hanging a shingle on Magazine Street, opening my first brick and mortar studio when the world is my studio.
Since 1997 the world has been my studio. I have always enjoyed a natural curiosity and wonder about the qualities and effects of light. I love the low winter sun in the country and the high contrasty light of noon day sun in a downtown metropolis. Light has character and depth, and when combined with telling a story of a singular person or event the possibilities are endless. For me the impetus to open a studio had to do with the increasing amount of business headshots I was getting commissioned for and the need to have more space at home with our growing baby. Having an photography studio and office space afforded me the luxury of leaving the work “at work” and having the house be where the home and family were. I love it this way. I also am thankful of the path that brought me here as for 20 years I was and still am a student of light. I have the ability to make a studio anywhere – in a field, in an office, on a hill, in a swamp. I know light, I respect light, I am nothing with out it.
My 2017 photography workshop series saw new moments and magic made. Photographers were born and snapshots were left in the dust.
This year was a year of rebirth for my photography workshop series, an ever evolving organism that I have curating since 2014. While I continue to host my staple workshops like Learn Digital Photography, Learn Lightroom and Photoshop, and Night Photography Workshop (formerly NOLA @ Night) I have added a few new ones. Workshops like Natural Light Photography Workshop held at Crescent Park and the Street Documentary Photography Worksop held in partnership with the French Market Corporation has allowed me to host new ideas that stem from my workshops. People have ideas of what they want to shoot and I figure out how to make it happen with the most impact for their knowledge and the community.
Photo by Stephen Barnes from the Street Documentary Workshop, 2017
Even though there were so many new moments made in 2017, I still keep one foot in the swamp, one foot in the music, faces, and culture I love so much. Here are some more highlights from 2017. Stay in touch friends, more exciting things happening. Here is a little reward for reading – my 2018 Photography Workshops which are open for enrollment now!
Sylvan Esso at The CIVIC Theatre in New Orleans @2017 Zack Smith Photography
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