We had the good fortune of connecting with Eric J. Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eric J., is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The most important factor in my success is a total symbiosis of my craft and who I am as a person. My camera is my constant companion and I see the world in terms of frames. I’m always scanning for the good light, a beautiful moment, or a wild surprise. I have also had the opportunity to travel extensively for assignments. My senses are always heightened in a new place and those experiences, as well as the photographs from them, have enriched my body of work.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a documentary photographer who has had the good fortune of being sent on assignment to locations around the world. I tell the stories of nonprofits and the people that benefit from them. I also have an affinity for documenting wildlife. I find it a very zen experience to hunker down in wilderness to make beautiful photos of animals. I was trained as a graphic designer and a fine artist, so I bring that skill set to my photographs. My journey to becoming a professional storyteller was a slow evolution from New York agency graphic designer to a documentarian for CBS and and now as a freelance photographer. At heart, I am an empath. I try to evoke a sense of empathy, wonder or awe to my work.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Hollywoodland, the hillside community under the Hollywood Sign. I love taking out of town guests for hikes to the top of Mount Lee. Being behind the Hollywood sign to see the view of the entire city and the San Fernando Valley is something to behold. Additionally, I like to hike to the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Reservoir, they are both magical locations and I always bring my camera. After a hike, I like to take guests to the Beachwood Cafe which is located in the Hollywoodland Village. They have a wonderful brunch.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
When I was a child, my mother was a photographer for a local newspaper in suburban Philadelphia. In the 1980s there weren’t that many female photojournalists. I occasionally accompanied her on assignments and visited the newsroom where she would develop her film in the darkroom. The magic of watching images slowly appear on paper in the trays of chemicals left a lasting impression. It was a very unique craft and the art of telling a compelling story through an image or series of images guides my life to this day. My shoutout is to my Mom. Thanks for helping to shape the man I am today.
Photo of Eric J. Smith by Jeff Honea All other photos by Eric J. Smith