Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating photographs that ask questions, part of Narrative Portraiture: On Location in New York with Rodney Smith.
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Chris Orwig: How would you describe your style in regards to directing people?…So if it is spontaneous, and let's say in that picture or other pictures, how are…you communicating with the model or the subject?…Rodney Smith: Well, the best thing for me with the models is to have some time with them,…which obviously you don't.…As the days go on--if it's a two-day shoot or a three-day shoot…that's particularly great--…the first few hours maybe they don't understand what I want, but they quickly get it.…They actually quickly get it.…
I mean, my first comment to them would be, don't model.…I am not interested in you as being a model.…I am interested in you as just being a person, being yourself.…So don't do any of that stuff. I don't like it.…So they get that, and they sort of like that, and then they slowly get what I am…sort of looking for, and they really get into it.…I think it's kind of ironic, because the lifestyle pictures which seem…so spontaneous and so, like, capturing this moment seem to me to be quite…
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.