ASMP — American Society of Media Photographers

Connecting All of the Moving Parts on Assignment

[by Zack Smith]

Before I even start to post images, I have to preface that most festival photography I do is a two way street of collaboration, happenstance, timing, and planning. The more I photograph a festival, the more I get in touch with how the many moving parts operate as individual creative cogs in the system, and how they work as a whole. French Quarter Fest is one of my favorite events to photograph because there are so many passionate players that make up this system. The second liners, the brass bands, the costuming revelers, the musicians in each band, the food vendors, painters, and let’s not forget the festival organizers. Without EACH and EVERY one of those players acting, doing, performing to the BEST of their abilities for the time they are on stage, street, or on the schedule – none of my photographs get made. None of my photographs can be what they are here without the blood, sweat, and tears each person puts into doing their Best at the Fest. So – thank you to all who came out, showed up, and left it ALL out on the streets of New Orleans during French Quarter Fest 2017.

Amidst all the music, food, and culture of a New Orleans music festival, I still need to remember I am there for my client.

Throughout the year my clients and subjects are as diverse as the fish in the sea. I am constantly rotating between event photography, commercial portraiture, corporate and author head shots, and four glorious times of the year: festival photography in New Orleans. Each photographic genre and client are equally different, have different needs, and I must be help them communicate their visual goals so I can be of value to their mission to their business and clients. But as with working with any client I need to be aware of the moving parts that make up the story so I can document it properly, while being true to my clients needs and true to my creative vision. During a music festival, all of these things often culminate into each and every image, as I walk from stage to stage the story changes, the light changes my backgrounds evolve and my subjects continue to dodge and move.

The hardest part about photographing a music festival is that when you tap into a particular festival’s energy and story it’s hard to pay attention to anything else. Sometimes that means you miss a lot of the wonderful music. It is crazy to think that the number one reason so many thousands of people attend a festival is for the music, and through the many hours walking around each stage in front of the horns, the drums and voices galore I hear little. But in a wonderful way I see the music.

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Zack Smith is photographer in New Orleans, Louisiana. Zack blogs about photography and teaches photography workshops in the Gulf Coast. He can be found at

IG – @zacksmith_photography  Tw – @zacksmithphoto   FB – /zacksmithphotography



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