Today’s interview comes from Arlington, Virginia and features an inspirational and very talented landscape, street and portraiture photographer. His name is Ike Smith and he has taken what was once just a hobby and turned it into a passion to share with his viewers. The beauty of the world and Ike’s keen eye for capturing moments in time have provided the perfect formula for his evoking body of work.
Thank you, Ike, for spending the time to share your experiences with us and thank you so much for all your thoughtful responses. You are a remarkable photographer and someone whose work is definitely worth following.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I am an amateur photographer doing photography as a serious hobby. I have a full-time job that pays for my gear and I travel a lot and take photographs wherever I go.
Where is home?
Home is Arlington, VA – right outside of Washington, DC.
What inspired you to be a photographer?
I’ve always wanted to be a photographer but could never afford it until I had a couple of years of experience under my belt to actually purchase the equipment. I’ve always loved the thought of capturing those moments that makes people be inspired and capture the beauty that the world has to provide. All too often we look at the beauty that’s in front of us but doesn’t always savor the moment. I try to capture those moments so that people can take a step back and savor that moment and be inspired by nature and the world.
Are you formally-taught or self-taught?
I’m self-taught through Google searches and YouTube videos.
From looking through your portfolio on your site, I can see that you are interested in a variety of photography styles. Of the styles you have explored, which has been your favorite and why?
My favorite style is to show some type of contrast, whether through colors such as black and white photographs or in the subject. There’s something about contrasts that is striking and elicits emotion such as a black and white photo. With contrasts, you can show the duality that is present in everyday life and shows that there’s always two sides to everything in life.
What is your favorite part of heading out for a photo shoot?
The prep work and lead up to a photo shoot is my favorite part because that’s when I can unleash my imagination and picture (no pun intended) how my photographs are going to look like and visualize the outcome, whether it’s going to be in color or black and white. I try to focus artistically to be as black and white as possible but obviously, that doesn’t always happen.
What has been your most memorable shoot and why?
My most memorable shoots have been shooting for two of my very good friends’ kids. Shooting for my godson is always such a joy and shooting for one of my friends’ daughter is always a fun time because she’s such a goofball. Shooting children always makes for an interesting and fun time.
How do you keep yourself motivated and your photography fresh?
My mindset whenever I go out to shoot is as a beginner. I’m always learning and trying to perfect my craft so that I don’t get too confident in my abilities and get complacent. By having the mindset of a beginner, I’m always yearning to learn new tricks and techniques that will better my craft and make every photo shoot as fresh as possible.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer just starting out?
It may sound like a cliché but taking pictures as much as you can is key. Photography is a skill that needs to be perfected through repetition. You can read or listen about techniques as much as you want, but unless you go out there and actually apply those skills, you’ll never know how to do it.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
This is my favorite image because it combines a lot of styles that I enjoy. You have the contrast in color with the sunset and the black silhouette, the contrast between the Tidal Basin and the surrounding land, and the contrast between the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument.
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
I hope that viewers of my photographs will see and appreciate beauty the same way I see and appreciate beauty through my lens. I hope that it elicits some type of emotion within them and enable them to appreciate what life provides us every day.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What’s your favorite lens?
Currently, I am shooting with a Canon 80D. My 50mm f/1.8 prime is my favorite lens because of its versatility.
What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?
My favorite photography accessory is my camera bag. I’m sure every photographer goes through what I go through – trying to find the perfect camera bag.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
Since most of my photos are of the outdoors, I would most like to have a second camera body to alternate between different lenses. I just don’t have the money to get a second decent camera body yet.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
Lightroom is incredibly important for me because I believe that’s where you as an artist can fully show your art. Taking the picture is but one step in the process of creating your art but I would argue that editing is just as important, if not more so, to fulfilling and realizing your artistic intent.
Was there a point in your journey when you started to feel really good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that “tipping point?”
At the risk of sounding cynical, I’m never really satisfied with my final work. It’s what drives me to be better and allows me to continue to see what else can I do to perfect my craft the next time I take a picture. I do feel a sense of validation whenever I get comments from people on how they feel about my work but to me, I create art for myself and use it to continuously perfect it.
Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to pick up on that you’d like to learn?
I would like to get more into fine art photography outside and in the studio. I think there’s a lot of fine art photos that I can create in studio settings but just haven’t been able to do so yet.
Do you see yourself as a photographer many years down the road?
I see myself as a lifelong photographer.