All images by Tim Smith. Used with permission.
“I think when I find something I’m interested in, I immerse myself totality, maybe even compulsively,” says Tim Smith as he speaks about the dedication he has when making his photographs. “I like to get out my comfort zone and to encounter the unknown”. Tim Smith is a photographer that enjoys using multiple elements from multiple genres to help create his stunning images. In his work you will notice street photography, architectural, urban geometry and minimal – all working together to provide the viewer with a visually pleasing, and somewhat comforting, final image. His work is further complemented with a clean black and white aesthetic. It’s an extra chapter to his narrative, one that makes it a timeless story to tell.
Tim is a photographer littered with an array of awards, recognition and commissions, which means we were super stoked to be able to talk to him…
Phoblographer: Hi Tim, tell us how you started your journey in photography…
TS: I sort of fell into photography by accident. I was planning a vacation trip and wanted something other than an iPhone camera. Ended up buying a Nikon D5300 with kit lens and got curious about manual settings. Immediately went to YouTube, book sources, online sources, learning what I could about the camera. As time went on, I found it to be an artistic outlet and a way to be creative by just looking at the world around me. Initially shot color and was fascinated with long exposure. At some point discovered the works of Ansel Adams, Michael Kenna, Fan Ho, Henri Cartier Bresson and was hooked with black and white images. As I progressed, I felt for me, it was easier to express myself artistically through a black and white medium.
Phoblographer: Your work uses the strengths of light and shadows. What, for you, is it about these elements that make photography so compelling?
TS: I think there are a couple of different factors. In some respects, using light and shadow almost becomes a structural element within the image. I think the geometrical patterns created can lead the viewer through the picture and there can be a contrasting element which for me is aesthetically pleasing. Light and shadow can make a black and white image look surreal. And subjectively, I think this can get lost with the distraction of color within a photo.
Phoblographer: In a good portion of the photographs that you make, they often include the streets and people – what is your relationship like with street photography? Does a lot of your inspiration come from this medium?
TS: As of late, I’ve been doing more street photography and it has really been a learning process to find a style that I’m interested in and suits me personally. Just based on my previous work, I love to use architecture and a minimalist element. It’s a way of looking at the world and combining those elements if possible.
I think a lot of the inspiration I have comes from the environment, whether it has the elements I look for (geometry, structure, contrast, texture). If those elements are present, then it becomes a matter of how or where people are fit within that space.
Phoblographer: What kind of things tend to attract your eye when you first think “there’s a shot here”?
TS: When it comes to street or architectural photography, currently it’s all about geometry, surrounding structures, contrast and texture. I think I try and incorporate a “clean” look with lines and angles. I’ll look at how light will fall at different times of the day, what patterns shadows will make and how can they be incorporated within the image. Additionally will look for leading lines or patterns. I’ve got into a habit of keeping a shot list of areas I’ve found. Sometimes I’ll study those areas for possible future shots. Or I may actually go to a site several times, actually look at different focal lengths. Just kind of depends.
Phoblographer: Let’s talk about the minimalism factor of your work. What attracts you to this approach…
TS: That’s an interesting question. Not sure if it has anything to do with my personality. I tend to be quiet and introspective. So I think I tend to gravitate towards an element that reflects this nature.
Phoblographer: Are you someone who likes to set themselves targets? How do you challenge yourself photographically?
TS: I think when I find something I’m interested in, I immerse myself totality, maybe even compulsively. I’m not really sure I set “targets” in photography, it’s really just been about shooting things I’m interested in. As for challenges, I like to get out of my comfort zone and to encounter the unknown. Typically, the unknown might involve dealing with people on the street- that unknown element of their reaction to a stranger taking photos. Or dealing with/learning how to model and pose people for portrait work.
Phoblographer: What’s your proudest photographic achievement to date?
TS: I’ve been very fortunate, I’ve had a few items displayed at shows and have won a few awards. However, I’m always excited and honored when I have people either commission me to do work or buy an image. With the number of photographers and images out there, to have someone select my work, to be displayed somewhere is always an incredible feeling.
Phoblographer: What’s in the (camera) bag? Why does this set up work for you?
TS: Currently shoot with a Nikon D810 or the Nikon D5300. Lenses vary, mainly Tamron 15-30, Nikon prime 50. Tamron 70-200 for portraits. For long exposure, use the Lee Big and Little stoppers. Currently looking for something a little different for street work.
Phoblographer: Finally, what does your photographic future look like?
TS: Personally it’s just to keep shooting what I find interesting, whether it be street, architecture, minimalism, portrait, etc,.To continue to stretch whatever artistic ability to its fullest extent. Professionally, just to continue to have the honor to have work displayed and bought.
You can follow the work of Tim by visiting his website.