MICHAEL A. SMITH

Brief Bio

Michael A. Smith, born in Philadelphia in 1942, has been working in photography since 1966. Less than a year later, in 1967, he began photographing exclusively with an 8x10-inch view camera, committing himself to the contact print. Later he added both an 8x20 and an 18x22-inch view camera.

During his second year as a photographer, he began teaching his own seminars and workshops, but after seven and a half years, he stopped teaching to dedicate himself solely to the making of his photographs.
His photographic journeys during the past 36 years have taken him to every state in the continental United States, western Canada, and Europe. The results of these remarkable odysseys are included in the permanent collections of over 100 museums in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Art Institute of Chicago, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

His commitment to the medium has resulted in over 200 exhibitions. In addition, he has twice received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and he has been the recipient of major commissions to photograph four American cities. In 1981, Smith’s first book, the two-volume monograph, Landscapes 1975–1979, was awarded Le Grand Prix du Livre at the Rencontres Internationale de la Photographie in Arles, France. At that time, the Swiss publication Print Letter commented that “For the first time in the 11 years of the Rencontres, a deserving book has won the book prize.” 

In 1992, Smith was honored with a 25-year retrospective exhibition at the International Museum of Photography at the Eastman House in Rochester, New York. To mark the occasion, Michael A Smith: A Visual Journey—Photographs from Twenty-Five Years was published. His first book of portraits, The Students of Deep Springs College, was published in the fall of 2000. His next book was published in the fall of 2004: Tuscany: Wandering the Back Roads—Volume II.

He is currently working on a series of landscape photographs from Iceland and a series of portraits made in Phoenix Arizona.

Artist Statement

I have always believed that it is how one sees rather than what one sees that makes any photograph interesting. Whether I photograph in the natural or the urban landscape, the challenge always is to balance the allure of the subject matter with my own visual concerns and sense of abstraction.

My photographs are really records—records of the interaction between myself and the things recorded. It is my hope that the end result of this interaction
—the photograph—will provide an exciting new interaction between itself and the viewer.

Visit the Michael and Paula website for more complete information