Shannon Hoyt —
Taking a photograph is a matter of visualizing, realizing and capturing a moment in time. However, it takes more than a camera to uncover the natural beauties of the world.
Christopher Smith, local Menomonie resident whose work is currently displayed at the Raw Deal, has captured vignettes of structures, blossoms and animals that serve to tell a story and present scenes that are pleasing to the eye.
Using a unique approach in the processes, philosophies and presentations of his pictures, Smith relies on his technique to captivate his viewers and seize his photographic subjects.
“I always have a camera with me and I pay attention to my environment,” said Smith. “Which reminds me of a quote by the character ‘Michael’ played by John Travolta in the movie of the same name. When he responds to another character’s dismay that he appears to have read her mind and she asks, ‘how could you possibly know that?’ Michael replies, ‘I pay attention.’”
“In fact, that is very much the feeling I get when, during my ambling, I see an image and compose a photograph,” he added.
The process of taking pictures is a matter of attention and observation. Smith, who became interested in photography at the age of 15, has continuously cultivated his eye.
Some places hold more opportunities than Menomonie. In order to discover some of the most flourished of flowers, Smith vacationed in the United Kingdom with the purpose of visiting alluring gardens.
Smith tells a story in each of his images. “Contemplating Beauty,” a photograph taken from the Hever Castle garden in the U.K., is an impeccable mirror of Smith’s artistic eye. A statue faces a single rose, as if there was a hidden conversation among the two.
“I wanted to show beauty, though beauty is also a subject. For instance, I have started to become interested in aging blossoms, not perfect flowers.”
Smith takes create care in cultivating the nature of his work. He tends to channel the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which highlights the aesthetic beauty of impermanence and imperfection. Smith strives to show impermanent moments through his own presentation.
“Whether you use mats, metals, or some place in-between, it will make a difference on the actual way we perceive the picture.”
A variety of Smith’s photographs also have 3D prints.
“My experience-honed technique comes from years of working in 3D stereography. The photos I process and present for viewing use traditional image framing techniques modified by a 3D bias.”
Manipulating and capturing photographs through the process of technique, philosophy and presentation have rung true for Smith and his passion.
“Great imagery is the photographer, not the camera.”
Smith’s work will be on display until April 3 at the Raw Deal. His prints are available for purchase.