With a background in Fine Arts and Art History, Smith engaged the film industry as an outlet for his creative drive.
First working as a camera assistant, Smith was exposed to feature filmmaking under directors Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Four Rooms) Alison Anders (Four Rooms) Gregory Hines (White Man’s Burden) and many others who helped to shape an understanding of the filmic process, as well as the many lessons learned about lighting and composition from cinematographers.
A dramatic shift from feature filmmaking to documentaries put the camera in Smith’s hands, allowing him to shoot, compose, and nurture his eye. The freedom of finding the story, of being in the moment, of understanding when to roll, and getting “it” on the first and only take built upon the foundation feature filmmaking had provided.
Always shooting stills as a companion to moving formats, Smith’s portfolio began to grow. In 2005, he shot “In Search of On the Road,” a documentary that served to develop both the screenplay and feature narrative adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” under director Walter Salles. Salles saw in the myriad of stills that accompanied their shared documentary journey an eye that was worth nurturing and made it possible for Smith to photograph the feature production of “On the Road.”
“On the Road” was a creative breakthrough for Smith’s photography as it allowed him to take advantage of all the lessons learned in his prior feature and documentary experiences and gave him latitude to dive into his own sensibilities, to trust his capacities as a photographer in a whole new arena.
The portfolio which resulted has been published in a companion piece to the feature released by the prestigious Penguin press titled, “On the Road, the official Movie Companion” and Smith’s work has also become a new title page design for Penguin’s latest Edition of Kerouac’s seminal novel.
Other features were to follow, and the role of still photographer has become a fit for Smith, allowing him to collaborate with acclaimed directors: Diego Luna, Roman Coppola, Rachid Bouchareb, and Mariana Chenillo. Smith enjoys the challenge of producing images that can tell the story of a film and its characters within single frames. His dynamic portfolios complement the core sensibilities of feature projects and help directors, producers, and distributors to find the audience for their films.