Mar 14

Cell Phone Cameras Are Fun


Clearly I haven’t updated this blog in months. While that saddens me it’s also a good indication of how busy I’ve been, which as it happens is a good thing when it comes to business.

I’ve been enjoying working with clients new and old on a wide variety of projects over the past few months. I’ll be talking about some projects in more depth later, but for now I just want to share an image I like. I like it for two reasons. One, I think it’s interesting. Two, I shot and edited this entirely on my cell phone. This second point is interesting to me because I think it represents the future of photography. Hell, it represents the now of photography.

While I don’t think I’ll be trading in my Canon 5D mark III anytime soon, I have really been enjoying experimenting with my Galaxy S4 phone. It really is a pretty amazing device and some of the images really are quite nice.

I just got back from a personal trip to Jackson Hole, WY and shot everything on my phone and a GoPro. It was fun to use only small cameras and really allowed me to focus on the experience. To keep in line with this mobile trend I’m posting to this blog from my phone for the very first time. I don’t think I’ll do that too often because typing with my thumbs is tedious.

If you want to see more mobile photos of mine follow me on Instagram. My handle is @ryansmithphotog

Nov 13

I Don’t Know. I Just Know.

When I was younger, I remember asking my Dad how he knew how to do so many things. He said, “I don’t know. I just know.”

I’ve thought a lot about that over the years and realized that my Dad is one of the greatest problem solvers I know. He is a mechanic and has a very analytical mind. When presented with any kind of obstacle he diagnoses the problem and then starts to troubleshoot. There are times when he doesn’t know the outcome ahead of time. He figures it out as he goes and comes up with a solution.

Unknowingly, I have always applied that same logic to problems I encounter, whether it be a complex lighting situation or how to make wine. I love to learn about new things and how to do new things. I’m a hands on kind of learner so I usually jump in head first and trouble shoot later. Because after all, you can see how to do anything on YouTube, but you won’t know how to do it until you actually do it.

With that in mind, I don’t want to shoot the same thing all the time. I like diversity and I didn’t become a photographer to shoot widgets. I like new challenges and I like learning to see the world from various perspectives. That’s why I love my job. I get to work with a variety of subjects for a wide array of clients. Here’s just a few of the recent projects I’ve worked on.

Lifestyle Photographer Ryan Smith, Mercersburg PA

Oct 13

A Milestone

This week is special for me. 7 years ago my wife (Larissa) and I took out a loan from the bank in order to pursue a full time photography career. Back then our business plan was very different than it is now and in all honesty, we were a lot dumber. Despite that fact, we have made good on our debt and consistently paid down our loan total for the last 84 consecutive months. Yesterday, we made the very last payment on a debt that has been a huge financial burden for 7 years. The balance is now at $0.00.

Holy shit! Did 7 years really just pass? We have had some good times and some bad times over the last 7 years, but never once did we miss our monthly payment. It blows my mind that even during the worst business months of my life, we somehow found a way to pay back our bank loan. We did so with hard work, willpower, wise financial decisions, great clients and a lot of luck.

Thank you to all of my clients, past and present with whom I have been able to share some great times with. I am ever grateful to do work that I love with other passionate, creative people. Cheers to 7 years!

Champagne Celebration

Champagne Celebration

Sep 13

The Opportunity To Choose

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a post I wrote the other week. It was about an ethical dilemma I had in regards to a particular assignment. In short, I turned down a job because I couldn’t reconcile my feelings about the client’s product. You can see the original post HERE.

I wrote about making a decision to turn down a good paying job and how that decision was difficult for me. The thing is, I keep coming back to the idea of “choice.” I can’t stop thinking about that concept. It’s given me the opportunity to reflect on a number of aspects of my life and career that I would like to share here.

I am lucky that I have the opportunity to put my personal feelings before business from time to time. I am lucky that I even have a choice to say “no.” Not everyone has that option and there are times throughout the past several years where I would not have been in a position to turn down work. People all over the world struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis. Not everyone has a choice.

Sometimes you have to do whatever job comes along in order to buy groceries or make rent. I’ve worked all kinds of jobs over the years in order to become a photographer. I’ve been electrocuted on an assembly line. I’ve stuck my entire arm into a vat of liquid cow shit. I’ve hauled fireworks all over the northeast and mid-atlantic. I’ve worked in a coffee shop, a garden center, photo labs, ski resorts, a climbing gym, camper manufacturer, tractor dealership and all sorts of under the table landscaping and construction jobs.

I come from a middle class family of small business owners that understand hard work. You learn how to work and how to make and save money. I’ve been given all the tools necessary to succeed as a photographer and to create the lifestyle that I desire. I have a loving family who has supported me and given me the ability to take risks. I am lucky and I want to say how grateful I am for the opportunities I have had over the years. I am thankful that the opportunity to say “no” is occasionally available to me.

I hope that I continue to be fortunate and that I can make the right decisions for me, my family and my professional life. I am grateful for all that I have and hope that everyone reading this has the opportunity to say no from time to time. Be thankful for what you have, work hard and enjoy life.

Sep 13

My 9/11/01

Lifestyle Photographer, Ryan Smith, Philadelphia, PA

I was living in Moscow, Idaho at the time of the 9/11 attacks. I woke up with the excitement of living somewhere new and getting ready to start my first semester as a transfer student to the University of Idaho. I was making breakfast when I turned on NPR. That’s how my roommates and I heard about the attack. I was shocked, angry and a little scared. I was on the opposite side of the country from my family in PA and living in a place that very few people know anything about.

I carried a portable short wave radio with headphones around all day so I could listen to the news coverage while I went to school. I remember sitting in a computer lab checking email and looking at news coverage online while listening to the shortwave. I remember talking to my family back here in PA. I remember talking to my roommates and to my classmates. But, I was so far away it didn’t seem real. It still doesn’t seem like it should have been possible. My 20′s have been lived in the shadow of 9/11 and every year I think about where I was that day.

I was in Idaho. I was in a remote part of the country, about as far away from NY, PA and DC as possible. The picture above is from the Salmon River in Idaho, about 2 hours from where I lived. I actually took this picture in 2009 when I was visiting, but this same location is where I spent days before and after the events of 9/11. It’s a place that always brings me peace of mind and peace of heart. Whenever I’m sad, frustrated or overwhelmed I think of this place. It’s my safe place.

My heart goes out to all those affected by the heinous events of 9/11. To all the families and friends of those lost, to all the members of our armed forces, to all the first responders, to all Americans home and abroad and to all of humanity, I wish you peace.

Aug 13

New Work: Laura & Jon

Musician’s Laura Mae Socks and Jon Bertrand, photographed during a break from recording their new record in my basement.

Lifestyle Photographer Philadelphia, PA Ryan Smith Photography

Lifestyle Photographer Philadelphia, PA Ryan Smith Photography Lifestyle Photographer Philadelphia, PA Ryan Smith Photography Lifestyle Photographer Philadelphia, PA Ryan Smith Photography Lifestyle Photographer Philadelphia, PA Ryan Smith Photography