Rodney Smith was an American photographer known for his distinctive and whimsical style of photography. Born on December 24, 1947, in New York City, Smith's work often featured surreal and dreamlike scenes, characterized by their elegance, precision, and a touch of whimsy.
Smith graduated from the University of Virginia in 1970 and attended Yale University to obtain a master's degree in theology, while minoring in photography. However, it was through photography that he was ultimately able to share a vision of a world full of humor, grace, and optimism.
He was known for using classical and timeless elements in his compositions, often including subjects dressed in formal attire, juxtaposed with surreal or unexpected elements in the frame. His images were meticulously planned and executed, and he used film photography to achieve the rich and detailed look of his work.
In 1993 Smith co-authored The Hat with creative director Leslie Smolan, A whimsical photo-essay on hats, contrasted the workers in an 18th century hat factory with hats as expressions of identity and fashion.
Smith and Smolan married, building a lifelong creative partnership that was instrumental in helping Smith find his own unique vision.
As his style developed, he became interested in creating fashion images in a high style, including work for Ralph Lauren and for magazines including Vanity Fair.
He often employed accessories in these pictures, with which he might play elegant tricks with earnestness: butterfly nets, umbrellas – as well as bowlers – became nods towards earlier decades of fun.
Smith's photography has been widely exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, and he published several books showcasing his work. His photographs have been featured in numerous publications and are highly regarded in the world of fine art photography.