Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video The early years and photography today, part of Narrative Portraiture: On Location in New York with Rodney Smith.
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Chris Orwig: Take us back to those early years, where we have talked a little bit about…some of the work you do now, but what about some of the work that you did in the beginning?…Rodney Smith: Well, that's when, you know, I was much more journalistic. When I was really,…really very young, in graduate school,…every single person around me was shooting large format 8x10.…But for whatever reason, I was not at all interested in that.…I mean, I liked 4x5, and Photography 1 class was taught with a 4x5 camera.…You had to shoot 4x5.…
They taught this system, and it was very rigorous, and that was…great, really great!…But when I came to making my own pictures, I was really interested, like, in 35mm.…I was much more journalistic in my approach.…And I was very, very serious, both in my intent and in the pictures I made.…I was my own client for fifteen years.…I would travel around the world. I used to find people. I had no money.…
I used to find people who had houses in these countries who would only be…there like six months of the year, and I would trade them, if they would let me…
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.