Photography for me is a meditation tool—a process by which I learn about my life and the lives of my subject matter. It allows for words when words fail me and encourages stillness when time overwhelms me – quieting my mind in an otherwise frantic outer and inner world. To me the photographic process is a deep inhalation.
From the moment a photographic idea is conceived, my mind begins to quiet and the creative process reveals an entirely new external and internal world. Minute details come to life; subtle sounds, reflections (both inner and outer), light play, movement, subtle tones, composition, structure, and form. The process of making the photographic print gives this visual emotion or expression its grammar and punctuation.
My subject matter evolves as inspiration guides. Whether it be the solitude of pristine landscapes that exist in abundance in the western U.S., the beauty, grace, and power of a horse and rider, or the geometry of man’s mechanical existence, there are lessons to be learned in both craft and presence.
I am primarily self-taught—a college course in traditional Black and White photography and my first 35mm SLR camera in the summer of 2003 being the impetus for my exploration. Untold rolls of exposed film, countless hours studying the work of generations of photographic masters, the appropriate and vigorous use of what John Sexton so aptly spoke of as the most important tool in his darkroom, “…my trash can”, and one of my greatest teachers, the question, “what if I…?”, have fed my passion for the photographic arts. On-going peer review, mentorship, and encouragement is constantly found with my involvement in The ImageMakers of Monterey.
The meditation tools I currently use consist of a 4×5 Zone VI Field Camera and a Hasselblad Medium Format camera. My work is film based and printed in the darkroom.
My work is held in private collections and printed in commercial publications. I am a featured photographer in the September 2007 issue of Magna–Chrom magazine.
It is my hope that the viewer experiences a deep inhalation or inspiration – perhaps a moment of peace, contemplation, and wonderment. If that communication transpires, then for that moment alone I have blossomed from my infancy as a photographer to express mastery of my chosen craft and the meditation is complete.
Roger Aguirre Smith
Carmel Valley, California