Featured Artist at PictureFrames.com

by Todd Smith on April 2, 2008

My work will be featured for a month this summer at PictureFrames.com.

In preparation for the show, I was interviewed last month. You can read below:

PF: Have you always been a photographer? How long have you been a
photographer? What inspired you to become a photographer? Is it your full time job?

T: I have been a full time photographer for the past five years.  Before that I was living a monastic life practicing long hours of meditation.  Meditation is a preparation for my photography.  A clear, rested mind can see subtle beauty everywhere, just as a calm pond clearly reflects the trees around it.

PF: What are your methods of visualization? How does the process of creating or capturing a photograph begin?

T: When consciousness is awake it sees the subtlety of nature.  No visualization can happen when the windows of perception are clouded.  Cultivating wakefulness forms the basis of my life and every photograph I create.  Seeing and recording the beautiful moments I experience is spontaneous on that basis. 

PF: You post weekly newsletters on your Web site. In many of them, you are simply digesting the every day world and showing us how you see it. How important is this to you and your photography?

T: My newsletter is a journal of my experience.  I love to show the subtle beauty that is always around, but which often lies covered from view.  Life is found in layers.  The joy of photography for me lies in transcending the common experience of an object and uncovering its essence.

PF: What kind of photography do you prefer to shoot? Who are your customers
and why do they choose you?

T: My task of showing the essence of things is easiest with subjects that display openness, simplicity and naturalness.  Landscapes, flowers, and nature in general; children, artists and anyone passionate about their work–each of these can draw me into its subtle world where creation is taking place.

The base of my greeting card, calendar and framed print customers is individuals ordering directly through my website.  I do commercial work–mainly products and architecture.  Wedding clients hear about me through word of mouth.  People choose me because they recognize something of their own experience in my work.

PF: After looking at your work, I noticed that you make new things familiar
and familiar things new. Talk about this. Is that a conscious goal?

T: Thank you very much.  Subtlety and familiarity go hand in hand.  That which is most subtle, consciousness itself, is also the most familiar.  There are so many layers of life from gross to subtle. For this reason, if I draw your attention to something subtle through photography, it will seem familiar even though you’ve never seen it before.  Likewise, if you’ve seen a thing a thousand times, it may seem fresh and new because you may have never noticed a subtle quality I am pointing out.

PF: What are your goals as a photographer?

T: I plan to photograph the unusual mountains and rice paddies of China, and spend time photographing the spiritual traditions of India.  I wish to expand my newsletter list to 10,000 readers.  I plan to publish a book on artists at work.

PF: In what ways do you stretch yourself to make your work grow?

T: My newsletter is my biggest stimulus for growth.  Every week I challenge myself to create new photos and show something the readers have not seen from me before.  There’s no resting on my laurels with my newsletter.

PF: How would you describe your photography? What do you want people to feel when seeing your work? What is your favorite thing about photography?

T: My photography is simply an appreciation of the beauty in my world.  What is beautiful to me is the essence of an object.  In my photography I wish to remind myself, and those who see my images, of the quiet inspiration below the surface of life.

I love the fact that I have to be constantly learning in photography.  There is a balance and communication between technical skills and subjective vision; both the mind and the heart are involved and must work together for a common goal.

PF: What’s the most memorable thing you’ve ever experienced as a

T: Notwithstanding the time I was stuck in traffic for four hours trying to get to a wedding in DC, the most memorable thing I’ve ever experienced as a photographer happened just last Fall.  I was driving along a lake not too far from where I live admiring the light and deciding whether to pull over to photograph when a few drops of rain began to fall.  The surface was smooth as glass, with reeds poking up through the water.  The raindrops made little splashes on the water’s surface.  I pulled over quickly, grabbed my camera, and took two or three shots before the rain stopped and the wind came up.  I continued photographing, but really the first one or two images were the keepers.  I literally had one minute to stop the car, set up my tripod, check exposure, and compose the shot.  I can still feel that elation in having captured that moment.

PF: What’s the single greatest thing that inspires your photography and
propels it forward?

T: The desire to know myself inspires my photography.  With every layer of subtlety that I uncover in my world, I uncover a corresponding layer of myself.

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