In this pixeLess Thursday I want to drive your attention to Rodney Smith, a photographer with a career spanning almost half a century.
I learned about New York based Rodney Smith (born December 24, 1947) in a newsletter from Hasselblad ]and was stunned – he just has an amazing eye for composition. His career spans forty-five years in commercial photography, always featuring a remarkable and unique style.
His style can be described as quirky and individualistic and is probably not what you’d expect to see in commercial productions. Yet he can be named together with Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and Margaret Bourke-White and attracted clients attached to his style.
The all-knowing Wikipedia adds that „he prefers natural light to illuminate his subjects, but occasionally will use continuous lighting. Smith shot predominantly in black and white, until 2002, when he first began to experiment with color film. His work is commonly referred to as classic, minimalistic, and whimsical.“
Now, we all learn from time to time that professional or good images have to be taken with the latest and greatest of what the camera manufacturers deliver. Rodney Smith shows that this is not the case at at all – Smith primarily photographed with a 35mm Leica M4 before he started shooting with a medium format Hasselblad. Even today he still shoots with the camera he basically started out with: a Hasselblad 501. When his original camera got stolen, he replaced it with the same model. Even more so, he also shows that you don’t need a huge mass of expensive lenses, as Hasselblad quotes him:
“I would say that probably around 99% of my pictures have all been produced using a Hasselblad,” he states, “and the vast majority of these were shot using the standard 80mm lens. For me certain things just do a job perfectly, and I’ve never found a reason to change my system. For the same reason I’ve always found film to be the perfect medium: sometimes with digital photography it’s the retoucher who should be getting the credit.”
The header image is called „Alan leaping from 515 Madison Avenue“, New York City, 1999; © Rodney Smith, taken from http://www.hasselblad.com/our-world/gallery-2/a-life-in-pictures