Monday, January 9, 2012

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tru: New Orleans

From Last Week's Shoot in the Wonderful City of New Orleans


Monday, November 21, 2011

What I did this summer

From one of the wonderful places I shot this past summer.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Best Work

Sometimes I feel that I do my best work when I don't give a damn. How about you?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011


view gallery: Reinterpretation

She was my first love. I found her on the pages of “Life Magazine” and hanging from the walls of the Detroit Institute of Arts. She was small, rich in the colors of black and white. She was the representation of an artist’s reaction to life. She was the etchings of Rembrandt and Brueghel and the photographs of Weston and Smith. Her images were honest, brutal and beautiful. She inspired my first black and white photographs. It was love at first sight. It became my method of interpretation of life as I felt it.

Musicians often reinterpret their work. Visual artists tend to create with the sprit of one and done. While visual artists might work on a theme or style for a series we seldom go back to the single original and rework it.

Recently I have had occasion to revisit some recent photographs. A client had asked me to convert a couple images into black and white. I did not simply do an image>mode>grayscale in Photoshop but I went back to the original raw file and completely reworked it. It was like bumping into my first love all over again. Seeing these images anew in Black and White rekindled a passion that had been left behind.


Zave Smith

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

34 Portraits

We just posted a new project to our website: 34 Portraits. These are 34 B&W portraits of New York's creative community.

Showing Off

It is hard to find the time to sit down with art buyers and show off the new portfolio in person.
But it is such a blast when we do it. The reaction is just so positive.

Zave Smith

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

It is almost an act of murder. In order to grow you often have to kill off the very things that have made you successful, in the first place.

At first I tried to understand and follow the marketplace. This was reasonably successful. But I was not after being reasonable. Besides, who was willing to pay for a cheaper imitation of the latest trend?

After ten years of some success at being a generic photographer, I started to become bored. I then started to put my craziness back into my work. I let go of the food and the products that had made my pay and started photographing shadows, kids, old people and even twenty-something cute girls. My only criterion was to make pictures that made me smile.

I used to get a lot of assignments that started with a layout. “Here, photographer, create a photograph that looks like this.” That is what I was paid for. Now I get assignments like, “Come down to Mardi Gras for a week and see what happens.” Or when Capital One called and ask me to spend some time photographing several small business clients of theirs in Dallas and in New York. No layouts, few directions, “Go see what’s there and bring us home something wonderful that captures the real life of our clients.”

I have learned that my best work, the work that makes my client’s smile is the work that happens when I let go. When I forget all the preconceived notions of what they want or what an “advertising” photograph should look like and I just react to what I see, I create photographs that sell.

Kill the concept and create a killer photograph.


Zave Smith

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advice to a New Photographer

News Flash! The Photography Industry is not dead. It is not even dying. Good photographers, with good business and marketing skills are earning good money every day in every niche of this industry.

It is not easy. It is not fair. If you want to be a fashion photographer and you live in Montana, forget it. But if you can match your skills to the needs of your area and if you know how to market yourself, you can make it.

I have been working full time as a photographer since 1982. I can honestly tell you that each year, in fact almost every month, some photographer laments that the gig is up. They are right it was up for them but not for others.

I will say that starting out in this industry is not for the faint of heart or those who need lots of cash flow right away. Like the music industry or being a professional athlete few, very few will make it and even fewer will rise to the top.

So how to start? I would suggest that you make a list of photographers whose work and career you admire. Then I would camp out at their doors. When they say go away, I would go away for a week and camp out again. I would do this over and over again until somebody gives me a break and lets me in. I would not ask for money. I would fine a way to support myself during the night or better yet, on weekends. I would just hang out and learn as much as possible. Do this long enough, a year or so, and you will know what your next step is.

It is a very hard road and it might not be for you. That's ok. In twenty years of running my own studio. I have seen assistants’ come and go. Only one as made it to the ranks of being a true professional photographer and supporting himself well. You might be better off with a career in web design or information technology and just enjoying photographing for its pure pleasure. If a professional career is what you seek then follow the road to the brightest doors.

People like to blame the demise of Photographic Profession on digital cameras. They say it makes it to easy to take a decent picture. Has anyone noticed how word processors have made a dent in the book business? Has anyone noticed that having the latest version of Word makes people better writers?

I am not saying it’s easy, it never was. But, it is still doable if you have the talent, the discipline, the ambition and the people skills.

A little luck also helps.


Zave Smith

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

CEO portrait

One of the most difficult assignments is the CEO portrait. Many CEOs are shy, not exactly handsome and usually very stiff in front of a camera. Here is one from a recent shoot. I guess I got lucky.


Zave Smith

Children with Cancer

Once or twice
a year I do a shoot for a amazing organization called: Flashes of Hope. What we do is go into the cancer wards of Children’s Hospital and create portraits of the kids and their families. As a poet or a writer my ability to express the multitude of emotions that flow through me when doing this work is surly lacking. All I can say is that all the families and all the medical personal who fight on the front lines of Childhood cancer are true humanitarians and true heros.

Zave Smith

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

For a nation
of immigrants we seem to get a bit crazy whenever new people come to our shores to seek a better life. Last week I had the privilege of flying to Atlanta to photograph the hard working people of AMS. These workers were busy restoring foreclosed homes in order to get them ready for re-sale. While in my mind, each foreclosed home represents a personal tragedy for the families who used to live him them, there is no question in my mind that the workers who where cleaning them up were working very hard and represented the ideal, the best of what all immigrates have always brought to America.

Zave Smith

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Give yourself a smile. Stop in a visit: "Playworld"


Zave Smith

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Wisconsin Farm Project

Back in 1982 I did a series of photographs on the Fecter Family Farm in West Bend, Wisconsin. Today I had to revisit these images for a client. I had not looked at them in twenty years but they still bring a smile to my face.

Zave Smith

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I am a fan of David Simon and the crew that did the "Wire" and now has "Treme" on HBO. Here is a collection of images from the part of New Orleans:

Also check out the excellent site about the show:


New Work

Monday, April 5, 2010


While walking down the path of life it is a good idea to keep your eyes on the road every once in a while.

Charlestown at Night

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Story Like No Other

GMc Advertising of New Orleans announced today the update of the new African American Heritage Trail website. Great story, great site, great photography by me.



Zave Smith

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


from yesterday's fun & games

Zave Smith

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dancing in the Streets

From this week's fun and games:


Zave Smith