The work of legendary photographer Rodney Smith looks as if it where born out of an earlier era, which makes sense because it is created with the techniques of the past. Forgoing the ease of modern digital methods, Smith uses only real film to create his subtly surreal images, full of classic gentlemen in suits and fedoras, women in long gowns… and a distinct lack of stable physics. He uses black and white for most of his moody pictures, which have the unique quality of being at once romantic and at the same time slightly un-nerving. Often captured spur of the moment, the images lack much of the preparation or post-processing associated with works by similar artists. Instead, he relies upon his keen eye for bold shapes and subject placement, creating images that are captivating in their simplicity.
Smith was raised in an affluent family and traveled extensively as a child. His first exposure to photography was when at an early age he was cared for by a German couple with a passion for the art form. There, in a small bathroom converted into a darkroom, he watched as photographs developed. Later in his college years he had his second important exposure to photography:
“I remember this day very well. I went to The Museum of Modern Art to the permanent collection. Edward Steichen was still the curator there and I remember looking at the permanent collection of photography which included Gene Smith, Minor White, Dorothea Lange – and I just looked at these pictures and I said, ‘I can do this.’ It was pretty arrogant when I look back.”