I love photography

I use this blogspace to share my work with the world, but here I would like to talk about my philosophy and the machinations that I employ to create a final piece. To quote one of my favorite artists, Jeff Alu, “Photoshop is my second camera.” Print images I scan into my cheap HP DeskJet 2622 printer/scanner/photocopier. Some photos look fine as is. Perhaps all I’ll do to it is crop it down a bit. In other cases I create a new image from the one that I captured from a brief moment in time and space. An extreme example might be the digital painting of the Metro Building that I published on this blog on June 13, 2013.

© Russell Smith

The cat is out of the bag. Digital art is here to stay. Some bemoan the loss of the exclusivity of 35mm cameras, dark rooms with their magic potions and mystical transference of images from film to print. I think that the popularization of photography can only lead to new and exciting experimentation with it from the abstract to the figurative.
I have several iterations on the Internet:

Since I showed you an example of a figurative piece of work that I created using Photoshop, let me show you something a bit more abstract that I published in Beautiful Photographs back on March 30th, 2013.

Far out, man!

Now the final example is of a photo that I took with a throwaway and then scanned into the HP to create a jpeg file. This was posted on Beautiful Photographs on August 27, 2010.

© Russell Smith, 2011

I love videography too

I am really in the beginning phase of learning how to manipulated video files. But to quote the demon from the movie, The Exorcist, “Give us time.”


For those of you who groaned and smacked your forehead when I mentioned my iPhone, I would like you to see this photo essay that appeared in the news magazine Foreign Policy on July 25, 2011. All of the photos were taken with an iPhone and manipulated with a new app called Hipstamatic. In their own words,

 […in this unique collection of photographs, largely taken on iPhones using an app called Hipstamatic that allows users to digitally manipulate “lenses,” “flashes,” and “film stock,” we found something exceptionally powerful: a record of the lives of U.S. Marines in Helmand province in 2010 and 2011 and of the Afghans they interacted with.

Take a look at “The War in Hipstamatic,” as the photo essay is called. It proves several points that I am trying to make. First of all, these little iPhones are capable of capturing and delivering high quality, powerfully moving images. Also, there is a place for subjective interpretation if one is a photojournalist. If this is true of journalism, you can imagine how I think it applies to art. If you start imposing rules on art, it loses its ability to illicit an aesthetic experience. –Russell Smith, August 26, 2011

And Another Thing!

I was recently exposed to the work of Vivian Maier and I am totally blown away. A friend of mine says that the photographs that I take are only interesting when they are street scenes. He may be influenced by the fact that he grew up in the city and doesn’t much care to see the beauty in a spiderweb the way I see a beauty in a yucca plant. Anyway, I plan to concentrate on street scenes for a while and see where that takes me. (September 12, 2011)

Below is an example of my street photography (even though it was taken on the Los Angeles subway.)

© Russell Smith, 2011

Fast forward to the year 2019. I now live in Annapolis, Maryland. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since I wrote the above words. Tragically, my beloved wife Robin died in February 2013. I left Hollywood, California and moved to rural Pennsylvania to live with my mother. That ill-fated, brief sojourn ended after about eighteen months, and I moved to Baltimore, Maryland. There I lived for about six months in a one-bedroom apartment with all the luxury and spaciousness of a monk’s cell. This gypsy lifestyle ended on November 17, 2015.

Followers of my photoblog have already noticed a major reduction of activity over the past two years (2017-2019.) This summer marks an end to that hiatus. While the amount of street photographs that I’ve been posting over recent months is much smaller than years past, there has been a broadening of scope. Followers of Beautiful Photographs will note that I am posting more floral, architectural and still life images. More than ever, I am exploring the abstract and the experimental. This last trend affords me the opportunity to continue utilizing Photoshop, an amazingly user friendly program. Additionally, my work has grown more personal, with portraiture of family, friends and myself. In fact, I’ve been exploring the art of selfies with a vengeance. Also, I am letting my hair down and incorporating my faith with my work.

From an artistic point of view, this change of focus has born fruit. My work has grown more accessible to a wider audience. Nothing could make me happier. It is my life’s work to leave the world in a more beautiful state than I found it. Capturing beauty is not enough anymore. While I think it is important to point out beauty in places that may be nontraditional, I feel that it is also critical to take cold, harsh reality, tweek it and through imaginative editing, create new visions that are both pleasing and aesthetic.

10 thoughts on “Manifesto!

  1. The best camera is the one you have with you at the time. Nothing wrong with using your iPone – I do and love the images I’m able to capture with it. Looking forward to seeing more of your work now that I’ve found you – although (yes) you found me 🙂

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