2015-10-14 With a career spanning almost half a century Rodney Smith and his Hasselblad have made their mark with some unforgettable imagery, which is about to be showcased in a sumptuous self-published book.
Self-portrait of Rodney with his wife Leslie, Sienna, Italy 1990
New York based Rodney Smith is one of those rare creative minds, a photographer that has enjoyed a remarkably successful forty-five year commercial career while shooting imagery throughout in his own inimitable and unique style. Not only that, but he’s remained resolutely wedded to silver halide throughout and, but for an unfortunate robbery that saw him lose his original Hasselblad 501, he would still be using the same camera that he started out with. As it is, the replacement 501 he bought for his precious original is still doing sterling service today.
Viktoria and Rainer in Car, Snedens Landing, NY 2011
“I would say that probably around 99% of my pictures have all been produced using a Hasselblad,” he states, “and the vast majority of these were shot using the standard 80mm lens. For me certain things just do a job perfectly, and I’ve never found a reason to change my system. For the same reason I’ve always found film to be the perfect medium: sometimes with digital photography it’s the retoucher who should be getting the credit.”
Alan leaping from 515 Madison Avenue, New York City, 1999
Rodney’s hallmark imagery is quirky and individualistic and, to all intents and purposes, not the kind of thing that would immediately spring to mind when you think of commercial work. However, he discovered that, like a select handful of other highly individual practitioners, such as Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and Margaret Bourke-White, he attracted clients who loved what he did and built their requirements around his style. It meant that, for Rodney, there was no such thing as ‘commercial’ and ‘personal’ work: rather it was indivisible, and everything is tinged with his trademark look and feel.
Bernadette in Red Hat with Book, New York Public Library, NYC, 2003
Reed with Megaphone on Rooftop, New York, New York, 2011
Don jumping over hay roll no. 1, Monkton, Maryland, 1999
Woman with Hat Between Hedges, Parc de Sceaux, France, 2004
Now Rodney is looking to mark his long career with a kickstarter-funded sumptuous coffee table book, and by self-publishing he’s looking not only to ensure that the quality will be top notch but also to give those that admire his style an affordable way to have a collection of his greatest work.