Tuesday, July 1, 2008

So, why don’t you sell shoes”? says my mother as I complained about business during a dip on this roller coaster ride we call a career. Why do I always want to get back on this ride? It comes down to one glorious, indefinable phenomenon - passion.

I am still in awe of the ability of a two dimensional object to contain, fixed within its borders, pieces of the elusive mystery we call life.

Now, I have been at this for a while. At first it was all about being an “Artist”. Then the babies came. Suddenly it’s more about bringing in the money. I did what I thought the market wanted or what my clients could tell me they wanted. I could make a colostomy bag look beautiful or a paint brush look sexy. Those days my photography was all about being “perfect” and well lit. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but there was no “me” in those images.

Passion. For a long time I didn’t believe there was a place for it in a commercial photography studio. How wrong I was. I got by until I gave myself permission to let my personal passions enter my professional work. Once this occurred, my career truly blossomed.

A few years ago, with the help of a few guides and a stubborn studio manager, I reclaimed my personal vision. I remembered why I got into photography in the first place. I re-learned how to create photographs that captured the fleeting spirit of living.

What do I mean by the fleeting spirit? For me living is full of energy, love, fun, pathos, silence, longing, exhaustion, amazement and awe. It amazes me how a subtle change of gesture totally changes what a photograph communicates. Through my photography I seek to convey how these simple moments can communicate the ageless wonder and wisdom inside of us. The beauty of the everyday connects us to the infinite. This is what gets me jazzed each day on the way to a shoot.

Often on a shoot I try so hard to hear what my client is saying that I lose sight of why I was hired in the first place. Clients call me to use my visual sense to express their concept, not to dictate every detail. I am hired for what my aesthetic can bring to project. My most successful shoots are those where I listen to myself as much as I listen to the client. A true collaboration.

I like to dazzle my viewer by showing them something they have seen a hundred times, but never like this before. I love to bring a laugh or a smile of recognition to their face.

Mother long ago stopped making career suggestions to me. Instead she listens in wonder at the stories from my photo shoots. She understands that for me photography is not just a living but also a way of life…

Summer has been a busy one for the studio. We have recently completed projects for Nickelodeon, Blue Cross of Illinois, Parade, Family Fun and Shire Pharmaceutica.

Zave Smith

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