Today we’d like to introduce you to Bodhi Smith.
Hi Bodhi, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today.
Up until 2011, like almost everyone, I had taken photos to help preserve memories of moments in time I have experienced. For the most part, these pictures were not art, just snapshots of my life. However, on June 14th, 2011, everything changed. I was cut off and stranded by a summer storm in a remote part of Death Valley for three days.
Something magical happened to me during that time that cannot be fully explained… for when the storm cleared, the roads were fixed, and I had again reconnected with civilization, I had a newfound talent for sharing dramatic scenes which I have witnessed in nature. Since that date, I have been blessed & fortunate to take dozens of images that people find to be dazzling and beautiful and wish to make part of their lives.
I am a self-taught photographer. I have no formal training other than being a teacher of the visual and performing arts. In my earlier days, some famous photographers had placed the label on me as being a “natural” because of my talent for understanding the science of the camera and mixing it with the artistry of composition… but I believe it’s really just my loving all the “natural” beauty surrounding me combined with my desire to express my feelings and emotions through my lens.
And I have always been a student of nature–I love to be out and about in nature as an explorer and adventurist. I want to experience as much of my surroundings as I can during my brief stay on this planet. I also study weather patterns and love clouds and storms… I am truly a weather geek and this gives me a better understanding of the best times to visit certain places so as to maximize the most possible beauty a place has to offer me while I am there.
I have a strong desire to constantly experience the scenery around me with all my senses to their fullest potential—thus, my photographic impressions are very emotional and have strong clarity and meaning for me–they have become expressions of my fond memories and highlights of my experiences.
Photography is magical and unique because it is like no other art form… just think about it: when you take a picture, you are seeing something in a way only you can see it, it’s very personal, a part of what is inside of you, and it is your vision and yours alone… the camera is just a mechanism that is reflecting back that vision, creating something tangible, a permanent memory of one of your experiences, something seen through your own eyes in your own unique way, something you can reflect back upon yourself… and if you chose, let others see as well for themselves, so they too can experience your vision, but in their own personal way…
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Of course, there are always setbacks and periods of creative drought… mostly problems brought on by issues in my personal life that cross into my artistic world with thoughts and obsessions that bounce around in my head, creating useless noise that interferes with my creative flow and inner peace.
Obviously, my work keeps progressively getting better as I learn more and more about my art. Each time I go out into the field to shoot, I keep gaining knowledge that I can apply the next time I am shooting. I make mistakes that set me back temporarily at the time, but these really help me to get immensely better at my craft over the long term. I also continually update my camera gear, and this helps to make my photography stay better than most of my peers by giving me access to the best possible equipment.
But life along my path of photography was going along swimmingly… until March of 2020 when COVID19 hit the world, I’d been improving constantly through the years with my skills and experiences, and as I got to travel to exciting new places and re-explore revisiting favorite places all over the world. Covid shut down the world and stalled the art scene. Venues closed, and Galleries locked their doors. Making a living as an artist became really difficult.
2020-2021 was extremely difficult with COVID19… my photography as a business was hit very hard with all the closures of galleries and places where I display my work, plus the cancellation of all art/craft shows everywhere. The state of affairs was making things nearly impossible to keep my business afloat and viable.
All my international clients have had to cancel their reservations and I’ve had to refund deposits because they cannot travel internationally here to the United States or elsewhere to hire my services to guide them to any locations. Income-wise with my photography was a huge total loss for those two years. But I am luckier than many other photographers because I still had my income from teaching digital photography at a high school in northern San Diego County.
But there is a flipside positive to every negative… for some reason in 2020 and 2021 I had the two most creative years photographically for me. and 2022 has been just amazing as well, With all that I have been able to see and capture with my camera lens these past couple of years, I have created some of the best photographic impressions of my life (by far I believe).
Maybe the reason is that I could focus entirely on creating art rather than a business with going to shows, maintaining the gallery, and making sales… still, I am not entirely sure of the reason for the rise in the quality of my photography, but I am thoroughly enjoying it nonetheless. And the climb upward is still far from over for me as the rest of the world re-opens up and I can travel the globe freely again!
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I consider myself an impressionist landscape photographer. And although I am exclusively a photographer, I frequently hear the comments that my photos often look like paintings–comments I take pride in hearing. I use specific focal points, long exposures, and follow the paths of light to capture an image with my camera… I embrace motion, blur, and reflections to create a composition that has the emotions of an impressionist painting.
I truly love to follow the light in composing a landscape image. The light tells me where and how to look at a scene… and honestly, I do not find and chose the photos I am going to take—the photos find and chose me. I never go out looking for a specific image. I just go hiking, camping, skiing, or 4×4-ing with my pup… it is the light, timing, and nature which grab at me and tell me what I should capture with my camera’s eye.
What sets my work apart from others is my use of colors and attention to the light in my impressions, and the way the metal prints really bring this out beautifully, plus my choice of uniquely designed thematic frames… combined with the fact I stay true to myself and never veer away from my own artistic style, which created photographic works that are often perceived as being very similar to impressionist paintings
I specialize in prints sublimated (fused) directly into the metal, a process that makes my compositions snap out with color and jump into life. Metal prints are always my suggestion and first choice as a medium for my work. It best represents me as an artist and my style of photography.
However, I also dabble in other mediums such as placing extra acrylic on large photographic images printed on archival paper to create an impression of paint-brush strokes on a photo that already has impressionistic characteristics. I also use “thematic” framing with many of my metal images to make the frame become part of the artwork and to further create more of a holistic effect of the entire piece and thus more of the impression of “being there.”
Also, I always offer my personal services to deliver my artwork to the home of my clients, sign my artwork in front of them personally (on the front and/or the back of the piece), and professionally hang them for them wherever they wish. All free of charge. Sort of an old-school house call that adds a very nice personal touch from me as the artist
Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
Growing up I was an only child with very little family life, my parent seemed to always be too busy or off doing something else in their lives. I did most of my activities alone with the occasional close friend… and I was almost always outside somewhere, pretty much from dawn to dusk. And even on some warm nights, I’d be outside all night laying on a blanket on my back stargazing.
School was always really easy for me, so It was great growing up without a care in the world except for what fun I was going to have next. I was restless, and could not stay put inside a house or room for long. I loved to ride my bicycle everywhere I could. Then when I got my driver’s license, I did the same thing with my car, only I could travel farther distances before I had to be at home in bed.
I never watched TV or played video games, I just loved to be outside every chance I got. Mother nature and her animals were my true family and my focus. Funny as an adult, I really have not changed a whole lot, still do much the same as I did as a kid… and the little kid inside me loves to keep having the same carefree fun.
- Photographic metal prints (priced by size)
- Guided tours to photographic locations in California and beautiful locations in the southwestern United States, as well as internationally to locations where I have become more of an expert such as Rapa Nui (Easter Island)… $2000/5 days
- Personal On-location Workshops catered to the needs of my clients. Instruction in planning photo locations and trips, creative processes, and previsualization, compositional techniques, using equipment (such as filters), styles of photography, such as long exposures and nightscapes, and editing skills with photos created during the workshop… $50/hr
- Webinars and Video-based tutorials covering a large scope of popular various photographic topics such as: how to create better artistic works through a better understanding of artistic composition in photography, night photography and capturing the milky way, long exposures, and some of my unique and personal editing techniques such as color management, blending of multiple images, and luminosity layers… $50/hr
- Website: http://www.bodhismith.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bodhismith/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bodhismithphotography
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/bodhismith1