The Dirt

Zack Smith

How has your photography evolved over time as you have been living here in New Orleans?

When I first moved to New Orleans in the Fall of 2000 my photography was a healthy mix of street documentary and live music. I hustled non stop to make the right connections with music venues to shoot there freely. What happened was that I forged very strong relationships with the local musicians and music community and ended up more interested in telling their story away from the stage. Over the past 10 years almost all of my business in the music community comes from creative collaborations with artists, management, and editorial outlets to produce portraits.

Tell us about shooting at night?

Photographing during twilight and night is visually stimulating to compose and to look at. I am able to use so many different light sources and color temperatures to tell a more striking and vivid story of the city we love.

What makes for a great portrait?

I feel the most important goal with a portrait is to find the best version of one's self and capture that in a relaxed and fun manner. A great portrait explores a soul's truth no matter the outcome.

What should someone add to their bucket list for experiencing New Orleans and the surrounding Parishes?

I think any adventurous soul should get in the car, load some film in the cameras, and get lost. Find your way around creating new experiences so that your geographical markers to New Orleans are not places, but adventures.

What does it mean to be a New Orleanian? 

To truly miss it.

What neighborhood do you live in? What is great about your street and block? 

I live in the "Heart of Chalmette" and the best thing about my street and block is that my wife and I live here to fulfill our dreams.

Who do you respect as creators of culture and great community members and why?

I am in no position to gauge who is actually creating culture, but I feel that anyone who is a perpetual student of their craft is a worthy purveyor of culture in my books.

Snowball flavor:

Root Beer w/ Condensed Milk.

Who would be your ultimate festival headliner? 

Rush.

How do you do Mardi Gras Day? 

The last few years I have stepped aside to let the kids play and focus on my world and it's been a perfect time of reflection for me.

Your favorite Dirty Coast shirt design?

If I had to pick one - Acadiana Self-Reliance. Duh.

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