Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Mentors strengthen our vision, part of Narrative Portraiture: On Location in New York with Rodney Smith.
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Rodney Smith: On a very superficial level, what makes a photograph successful, or good, for…me is a picture that I have not made before and that feels somewhat new, but…that's not what makes a photograph successful.…If I talk about other people, like Stieglitz, for me, is like, you know, I never--…obviously I was barely alive when he died, but he would have been my mentor, not…because--I mean, I love his picture-- actually, I adore pictures--but not…necessarily because of my love of his pictures, but I loved his intensity.…
I just found that just fascinating that he was able to expose this incredible…energy in this two-dimensional piece of paper.…Chris Orwig: Now that age-old question:…What makes a photograph good? And how can we get people to connect with our work…when they are bombarded with millions of images, and they have no regard for us,…or our pictures? How do we make that connection?…Well, I like Rodney's vulnerability there;…he says, superficially, what makes a photograph good is that it's new, that…
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.