July 25, 2011

Mr. S Meets Mr. Smith: Part Two

As my beautiful green, abundant lawn turns to toast, and the turkey’s and peacocks are all running for cover from the heat, I thought it only appropriate that I open myself up for further dissection. It is time once again to take the heat and travel not to Washington, where the frigid air of inhospitable, mean spirited people abide, but rather to the warmth of my desk, where Mr. S meets Mr. Smith once again.

Mr.S: Before we begin, I noticed that you are a mixture of formality and informality. Is that correct?

Mr. Smith: You’re a Genius! How did you know? You’re wise beyond your years. I have always loved things in their right place. I also enjoy a certain civility and elegance to life. One of the great treats I provide myself and family is to have my sheets changed 3 times a week. The feel of newly pressed sheets is one of the great luxuries of the world. I would hope my pictures are a mixture of great style, formality, and elegance, with a tinge of whimsy and spontaneity. This is the perfect cocktail.

Mr. S: Obviously you believe that your early family travails and antidotes provide an insight into your pictures today, but why?

Mr. Smith: Good questions Mr. S. I like your line of inquiry. The simple answer to your question is that I most definitely do. As Socrates, most eloquently put it over two thousand years ago, only to be reaffirmed by Augustine, Hegel, Kant, and host of the greatest minds leading to my all time favorite on the hit parade, Master Freud, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” It is my belief that everything has a purpose, from my choosing photography, to working in Black and White, from my compositional sense, to the subject matter, to the perspective, and distance from the subject, and the subject themselves, are ALL a reflection of who I am, which is based on where I have been physically and emotionally in my life. To truly understand one’s expression (in my case photographs) there is no better way to know me than to know the life behind the pictures.


Mr. S: You seem to be talking to two different audiences; those who are interested in photography, and those simply looking for a good life story. Is that your intention?

Mr. Smith: I have heard this distinction before, and it is definitely not my intention. It is my purpose, perhaps I should say, my passion, to speak to everyone who struggles to bring forth something noble or special that resides within them. I know photographers are always attached to the nitty gritty, the how of things. How you made that show, what film, what lens, what process, and I am more than willing (as Ansel Adams and others were very willing with me) to tell them the life of a particular picture. There is no question that this is interesting, but I tell you, Mr S, for the most part although interesting and revealing, the truly interesting and revealing part of the picture is what lies beneath it, reaching way back to it’s source, my life.


Mr. S: This is almost like a Zen Koan. Are you saying what many people feel to be the most important aspect to photography is really not that important? Is the path that most people take the wrong road? So for you what is the most important thing that has manifested itself in how you work?

Mr. Smith: Now you are really getting there Mr. S. Probably one of the greatest photographic gifts that I have been given through years of therapy, is the ability to let go, and to trust my instincts. This has been no easy task, but it has served me extremely well. On a purely simple note, often I will scout a location on a sunny day and the day of the shoot it is raining, the model does not feel well, something is not working. There is always something outside of my control. For this reason I have learned to focus and trust on what is in front of me and what is given at the time, not what I had expected or what I had envisioned. I let it all happen spontaneously, and I am a far better photographer because of this.

Mr. S: Is there a perpetual theme that is in your work that is not immediately transparent?

Mr. Smith: I could discourse on many themes in my work, but there is one I have rarely talked about, that is prominent and prevalent in my work and in my life. This is the question of time. I have always been intrigued with this idea. What is it? How can one person occupy the same space as another with only the factor of time being varied? Is time understood as memories and feelings? What is good time verses bad time? Ironically by looking backwards into our memories, can we effect present time. Is history real or simply peoples perception? These and many other questions have lingered with me since college.



Mr. S: Last question on this go around, Do you personally believe in God or any organized religion? Does this affect your work?

Mr. Smith: Firstly, I would never join any group that would have me as a member. I am not a member of any group and I am quite reclusive, and although it may not appear this way, I am quite private in my thoughts and deeds. Oh, how I would love to believe. Take Jesus Christ as an example. If in fact I believe he existed, not simply as an extraordinary man, but rather as the son of God, who died for our sins, how much simpler my life would be. I would know life’s purpose and most importantly my role, the meaning of life would be defined and one could face death with confidence, ease and even joy. But, and this is truly the biggest BUT, I do not believe. I stand on a precipice and watch. I am alone, defiant, making my own way, co-creating my life, and facing death, not with a sense of utopia, but with resignation and acceptance. It is my belief that one achieves greatness not because, but despite. Thank you. Until we meet again.



  1. How I wish I could afford your pictures! The last one on this blog entry gives me shivers, I wish I could see it every day.

    Thanks a lot for making them and showing them to us.

    Comment by foo — August 7, 2011 @ 7:37 pm

  2. [...] текст интервью — части первой, второй и третьей, а также много другой интересной информации [...]

    Pingback by Родни Смит. Интервью с самим собой «Мистер С. и мистер Смит». Часть вторая и третья « Leica Camera Russia Blog — December 25, 2012 @ 12:56 am

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