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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.
Hey welcome! Here we are, in the print room, and it's fascinating to see all of these different prints, different sizes, different promotional materials. This is Rodney's most recent book that he has been working on. And then also we have some prints from a recent shoot, a stack of prints. And there's something that's kind of just magic about the actual artifact, something that was crafted. I once heard someone say that an image is complete once it's been printed, and it's really fun just to be in this space. One of the things that fascinate me about space is that the space that we create really affects the final product.
You walk into a context like this and you just say, okay, it's all about quality; it's about creating something that is just completely one of a kind. So one of the things I encourage you to think about in regards to your own space is, what can you do in order to make your space more of a greenhouse for quality, more of a space that will enable you and empower you and excite you about creating prints that are even more compelling?
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