Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Brian Smith: Art & Soul
Brian Smith crafts a series of celebrity portraits for a cause that’s close to home
As a Sony Artisan of Imagery, Smith has worked with Sony’s α900 camera since its introduction in late 2008. He tested it extensively prior to the project and knew he could count on the camera to produce detailed image files, even under tricky conditions.
“We covered every wall in black so that we had this little dark cubicle,” Smith continues. “It didn’t really matter how big the space was, and actually, when we’ve gone to shoot in studios after that, we’ve replicated the same thing so we’re able to get that same look. Instead of being in a 9x14 room, we could be in a 2,500-square-foot, all-white, all-cyced studio, and we sort of darken everything down so it becomes this very quiet, small, intimate space.”
Smith’s technical approach to Art & Soul may have stemmed from necessity, but the motivation was deliberate—to provide an unobtrusive platform for each subject’s personality to come through loud and clear.
“We gave people a lot of space in terms of my direction,” he continues. “A lot of times, actors are so used to an agenda from the magazine or the studio or their publicists or whatever, and I just felt I didn’t need to have an agenda myself. So when they would come up and go, ‘What do you want me to do?’ my direction was basically the same thing: ‘You can do whatever you want—this is a book about the arts; it affects everyone differently. One of the keys about the arts is improvisation and being yourself, so this is whatever you feel comfortable doing.’ I think sometimes people took that like, ‘Well, gee, I’ve wanted to do that for 10 years.’ When my hands weren’t tied, I didn’t want to force myself into a corner. I wanted the subjects to feel like they had the freedom to do what they wanted.”
To maintain the effortless feel with each new session, Smith kept the lighting setup fairly streamlined and unpretentious, too.
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