Friday, June 1, 2007
Matthew Jordan Smith - Beauty & Light
Matthew Jordan Smith takes inspiration from a wide range of visual sources and creates lasting images that define beauty.
"I use beauty dishes in many of my shoots," Smith adds. "But I only use white light, almost exclusively." He also has a tendency to experiment with HMIs because they give him the freedom to play with effects that mimic natural sunlight, but in a controlled studio environment. When it comes to his day-to-day, go-to lights, however, he's an exclusive Profoto user.
"I use Profoto lights and strobe lights all the time," says Smith. "I love their durability and reliability. So much can go wrong on the set, but I've never had a Profoto light fail me or cause me more problems. I use them all over the world— I never travel for a shoot without them. They work. It's hard enough for every thing to come together on a photo shoot; you want something dependable."
Smith's interest in lighting dates back to his early days as an assistant in New York City, where he studied under fashion photographer Neil Bar. Recalls Smith, "I learned the most from Neil. He was the single person I learned the most from about beauty and lighting. In my mind, he's a lighting master."
Although Smith received some formal education when he studied at the Art Institute of Atlanta, he moved to New York against advice to study photography on his own. "There were many naysayers," says Smith. "My parents would tell me, 'There are hundreds of starving photographers on the streets!' They just didn't want me to be penniless."
But Smith's drive to succeed in the world of photography was unyielding and unrelenting. "It was a slow evolution breaking into the beauty and advertising world," he says. "Mostly, it came from assisting, but I had a love for it, a vision. You can tell a story through it."
Smith's choice to focus on beauty photography certainly isn't unexpected, and his interest in all things French comes as no surprise. "I love Paris—it's beautiful and romantic," says Smith. "I love the food, the music, the sunlight." He's equally inspired by French movies: "They're very romantic. They touch your heart; they touch your soul."
But it's not only France that moves this artist's soul. Smith is a world traveler. "I draw inspiration from everywhere," he says, "from traveling to other parts of the world and experiencing different cultures. It stays with you. It becomes a part of who you are."
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