Rodney Smith was a prominent photographer whose whimsical work invited comparisons to that of the Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte.
On style, Rodney Smith only took his photographs on film, in real locations, strictly with available light only, and no digital post-production.
Excerpt from B&W Magazine - Leslie Smolan, Rodney Smith's wife, on his working process, it “was one of spontaneity and discovery. When scouting a location, he spent very little time there. He didn’t take Polaroids. On the day of the shoot, he’d just start moving and suddenly stop when he’d found the right spot; using the environment as a studio, editing with light. He’d use his intuition about proportion and scale to feel ‘it’ when things were in sync. The pressure of the shoot actually made Rodney relax; no matter how many people were on the set, or how big the production, he was calm behind the camera and totally in control.”
Rodney Smith graduated from the University of Virginia in 1970 and earned a Master of Divinity in Theology from Yale University in 1973. At Yale he studied photography under photographer Walker Evans, where his mentors were Cartier-Bresson, Kertész, W. Eugene Smith, Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange and Irving Penn. He philosophised about existential questions and photography gave him a way in which to express his thoughts. From Rodney Smith's official biography "He wrestled with Big Ideas and referenced Wittgenstein and Plato as if he saw them yesterday."
His client commissions included The New York Stock Exchange, American Express, The New York City Ballet, Morgan Stanley, Ritz Carlton and Visa; his editorial clients The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair and New York Magazine; and fashion clients Ralph Lauren, Neiman Marcus, Ellen Tracy and Bergdorf Goodman. Rodney Smith's images were used on the covers of TIME Magazine’s ‘Where the Jobs Are’ in 2011 and ‘Rethinking Heaven’ in 2012. His work has been exhibited internationally and he received over 75 awards.