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In the Narrative Portraiture series, photographer and teacher Chris Orwig explores the use of elements such as location and natural light to create images that tell stories about their subjects and produce a strong emotional connection. In this installment, Chris visits Rodney Smith, a photographer whose work is known for its graceful serenity and its wit. Rodney's career spans more than four decades and includes editorial, fashion, and advertising work, as well as several books.
The course begins with a wide-ranging conversation between Chris and Rodney, during which they discuss Rodney's work, his approach to photography and models, his love of film and of black and white, and the importance of creating photographs that both ask questions and tell stories. Next, Chris tours Rodney Smith's studio, including the darkroom, to get more familiar with Rodney before photographing him.
Chris then takes a series of portraits of Rodney. Along the way, he reviews his gear choices and the compositional decisions he makes, and discusses the importance of committing photographs to paper, particularly in today's digital age. Finally, Chris reviews the images and shares some insights from his conversation with Rodney.
Here we are, in another room in Rodney Smith's studio, and this is an incredibly distinguished and just exquisite room. While other spaces may be a bit more functional, say the mounting and print room where they were working on photographs, this is the place where all the final prints come to. You can see some photographs framed, being ready to be shipped out, photos in books, or prints in different sizes. And what's fascinating about this space is it just, it makes you want to take pictures. I mean, this really celebrates the art and craft of photography.
You enter into this room, it's inviting, and it's warm, and you see these pictures in different sizes, like this huge print here, or some smaller images as well--and they really draw you in. And what's so fascinating to me about this space is that as I look through different photographs, I'm fascinated by the connection between the photographs and the studio itself. There are so many parallels, and there are so many interesting connections there in regards to how we actually operate and what we surround ourselves with, and also the art that we create.
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