It is almost an act of murder. In order to grow you often have to kill off the very things that have made you successful, in the first place.
At first I tried to understand and follow the marketplace. This was reasonably successful. But I was not after being reasonable. Besides, who was willing to pay for a cheaper imitation of the latest trend?
After ten years of some success at being a generic photographer, I started to become bored. I then started to put my craziness back into my work. I let go of the food and the products that had made my pay and started photographing shadows, kids, old people and even twenty-something cute girls. My only criterion was to make pictures that made me smile.
I used to get a lot of assignments that started with a layout. “Here, photographer, create a photograph that looks like this.” That is what I was paid for. Now I get assignments like, “Come down to Mardi Gras for a week and see what happens.” Or when Capital One called and asked me to spend some time photographing several small business clients of theirs in Dallas and in New York. No layouts, few directions, “Go see what’s there and bring us home something wonderful that captures the real life of our clients.”
I have learned that my best work, the work that makes my client’s smile is the work that happens when I let go. When I forget all the preconceived notions of what they want or what an “advertising” photograph should look like and I just react to what I see, I create photographs that sell.
Kill the concept and create a killer photograph.
Exuberant and poignant, philosophical and passionate, Zave Smith’s photographs capture the tangible pleasures and tactile experiences of life in close-up.