If there’s one photographer I relate with stylistically, it’s Brian Smith. He’s done all kinds of photography over his career, and he spoke with me about his beginnings in this podcast. He is simply one of the best living portraitists and ranks high in the all-time category, as well. His photographs are made with people, not just of people. It’s clear that he connects with his subjects and helps them present an image that it is true. That’s kinda deep, but it’s accurate. I wanna be Brian Smith when I grow up.
When Brian photographs a person, it’s clear that the person is the subject. His portraits lack complex finishing techniques and they aren’t always made in cool places, and they don’t have a billion lights balanced to perfection. What they do have is soul. Study his work and you’ll see simple poses, simple lighting and backdrops, and no discernible post production. It’s clear to me that Brian is aware that the person is the most important thing in a photograph.
His book, Art & Soul, is a perfect example of his simple work depicting real character. He dialed up a lot of celebrities and asked them to make a picture with him and write in a few words what Art means to their lives. It’s a moving and character-rich book, and I highly recommend you study it.
Brian Smith will be teaching at Photoshop World a few days after Labor Day, and I hope to see you there. You’ll find me in Brian’s classes trying to soak up some awesomeness.