We recently connected with Rich Smukler and have shared our conversation below.
Rich, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Can you talk to us about how you learned to do what you do?
The best and quickest way to learn your craft as a photographer is to attend a top-notch school. I was fortunate to have attended Toscsna Photographic Workshop in Tuscany, Italy for seven fabulous summers, learning from the best the world of photography had to offer in a magical country. Then, living in south Florida, The Palm Beach Photo Center was in my back yard, so to speak, also stocked with fine teachers and resources. I can recommend joining or starting a local photo group where your work can be critiqued, techniques shared and passion exchanged.
Rich, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I feel quite strongly about how an artist searches for and achieves their personal identity. Millions of young, aspiring artists will robotically emulate and seek to copy the masters of their particular genre. I can appreciate that and applaud the gleaning of historical context necessary to move forward. It fine-tunes the artists point of view and sharpens the ability to communicate using the language of the trade, not just the simplistic employment of empty superlatives.
Once a technical mastery of the trade is achieved, it becomes critical for the artist to seek a niche that will set them apart from all others, a task not easily reached. It requires a dedication to experimentation and hard work. The trail should be littered with failed projects, huge missteps, and tons of tossed paper and ink.
Once that sense of self and style is developed, it challenges you what to do with it. The ultimate goal is to attain a style that is clearly identified as your own, along with a willingness to continue personal growth without losing that identity. Some artists attain success and get frozen in that spot for a variety of reasons; an unwillingness to lose their identity, financial disincentives, etc. For these folks I have no pity. You must continue to grow, experiment and evolve.
What do you find most rewarding about being a creative?
My personal love affair with photography provides me with the avenue through which I can seek an inner peace through my craft. With camera in hand, I can travel anywhere and find a meditative space that I am otherwise unable to achieve. Perhaps that shows a personal inner weakness, but it is the method that works for me. I look and see differently when I am seeking a new image to capture. Typically when I frame a piece in my lens I do so by deconstructing the scene or object into a canvas of shapes, designs and colors, not the way I usually look at life on a day-to-day basis.
Is there something you think non-creatives will struggle to understand about your journey as a creative? Maybe you can provide some insight – you never know who might benefit from the enlightenment.
This is like proving a negative, very difficult. Perhaps the love of an art form can be likened to the passion of a sports fanatic, no real logic, just a heartfelt drive.
- Website: www.richsmuklerphoto.com
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