Dear Mr. Smith!
Take it from me - it was a bit early for you to leave this party, but I am sure glad what you left us with!
This is how I would have started my letter and did I have more paper with me (I only use a rather special one) I would have probably written Rodney Smith one yesterday. I’ve written many letters in the past two years, not really paying a lot of attention to the fact that some of the recipients weren’t alive anymore. What they did, what they expressed meant something for my life and therefore lived on. I made many pen pals and they’ve been enormously generous in helping me to understand what it is that I could be doing with the time I am given.
I wish it hadn’t been for Rodney Smith's death to read up on him and his work process, yet although I’ve admired his wonderful photographic work for a few years and even spent some time considering buying a print just a few months ago (Note to self: Should have done so and will hopefully now soon), I always looked at his images thinking they came from another photographic world than mine. Another place, another time.
They are perfect, as great pictures tend to be: A snippet of world, a stage. In the best of cases, just like with Mr. Smith’s, noone can see what lies behind them. How much work is put into them, how much risk was taken. How long he was searching for the right place, how many frames he shot to get this one that satisfied him. Maybe I was most surprised to read how much chance he took. That finding the right location was the most important ingredient for him - the stage on which everything unfolds, in a wondrous natural way.
It seems hard to believe his images weren’t precisely planned and laid out in his head before. Yet, to know what you have to bring to a place and then leave the door open a slight bit to let magic slip in: This requires the confidence of a true artist.
So thank you, Mr. Smith, for inspiring us and taking us with you into your magical world. There’s so much more to say about you & your photographs and I will do so, I make this a promise. I am very grateful you helped me understand that there is an importance to think, to speak and to write about photographs, as there is just so much more than we can see.