Photography: Rodney Smith
“Since my photographic beginnings, I have always photographed people with hats, Welsh farmers with their tweed caps, French farmers with their berets, Americans with their fedoras, etc. It was always a small gesture to distinguish one region from another.
As time went on and my subjects became different I never abandoned the love of the hat. It is not that I grew up with people wearing them. My adolescence was during the Kennedy years when the hat was being discarded for youthful vigor, and a display of as much hair as possible. The Beatles seemed to begin the end of the hat.”
We’re talking about Rodney Smith , a simple man in a very complicated world, in which is so hard to remain human. We’re talking about a photographer, but not a simple one.
The proof are his photographs – bold and gentle, real and surreal, charming and questionable, provoking, calming, direct, funny, velvety as the voice of the old gentleman, secretive as a precious trinket from the bottom of the drawer.
Rodney Smith graduated from the University of Virginia in 1970. He went on to earn a Master of Divinity in Theology from Yale University in 1973. While at Yale, Rodney also studied photography under Walker Evans. Mr. Smith is a photographer based in New York with years of teaching experience, including a adjunct professorship at Yale University. He regularly teaches a workshop at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshop in New Mexico.
Along with his personal work, Mr. Smith has been commissioned to do assignment work for clients such as American Express, I.B.M., H.J Heinz, Merrill Lynch, the New York Stock Exchange, B.M.W., Starbucks Coffee, and House Beautiful Magazine, MCI Worldcom, VISA, and The New York City Ballet. In addition to this corporate and advertising work, his fashion include Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Ralph Lauren, Ellen Tracy, The New York Times Magazine and W Magazine.
In 1975 he received a Jerusalem Foundation Fellowship which enabled him to live in Jerusalem for three months. This work resulted in his first book, In the Land of Light, published by Houghton-Mifflin Company in 1983. His second book, entitled The Hat Book was published by Doubleday in the Fall of 1993. Currently, Mr. Smith is working on his third book. He lives with his wife and daughter in Snedens Landing, a small community on the Hudson near New York City.