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

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.

Thanksgiving 2011

I originally posted this last Thanksgiving and feel it still represents what I am most thankful for. The only addition for this year is that I am thankful to have a healthy wife who is pregnant with our first child. I can't wait to meet him! Originally posted on November 23, 2010 Give thanks this week and focus on what's truly important in your life. I am thankful to have a loving and caring family, an abundance of fun and creativity in my life, a challenging and successful business and a community of inspiring and motivated people.

What are you thankful for this year?

Trying to Simplify

In an effort to simplify this blog (and hopefully post more regularly) I have changed the theme/design to be a little cleaner. I'm getting rid of the clutter and hope you like it. If you have any suggestions for things you'd like to see, let me know and I'll see if it's within my measly design capabilities. Cheers, Ryan

Happy Thanksgiving!

Give thanks this week and focus on what's truly important in your life. I am thankful to have a loving and caring family, an abundance of fun and creativity in my life, a challenging and successful business and a community of inspiring and motivated people. What are you thankful for this year?

Blog Hiatus

I've been on a blog hiatus as of late because of a severe lack of time . . . which is awesome because that means I'm working! There has been a host of projects pop up recently that I've been thrilled to work on. One surprising thing is that more video projects are already starting to roll in. I hadn't expected to start expanding this part of my business so quickly but it seems people are responding well to what I'm putting out there. I say bring it on!

Anyway, I'm off to shoot in DC and Kentucky this week, but I wanted to get something up here so you don't think I've abandoned ship. I have quite a few blog posts in mind including one about the photography class I taught this summer. I'll be writing that one once I return so stay tuned.

For now, here are some fun shots of my good friend Aaron ripping it in the Fayetteville, WV skatepark on his 30th birthday. Who says you can't still shred when your 30?

Chace + Smith Photography Senior Portrait Special

It's that time of year for us to start shooting portraits for this years class of seniors. I always enjoy senior portraits because it gives me a chance to interact with my portrait subjects one on one. There are so many creative possibilities when working with just one person. Individual portrait sessions give me time to talk and interact with my subject, allowing room for improvisation.

If you or anyone you know is interested in taking advantage of this seasons special, give us a call or email to reserve your date and brainstorm creative ideas. Please spread the word and check out the Chace + Smith Photography website.

Make a left . . .

Directions have been on my mind a lot lately. As much as I might wish the path to be as clear as the photo above, there is never an easy way to success as an entrepreneur. I am forced to take chances, compromise, stand firm, solve impossible problems and do it with a smile. I often find myself wondering what direction to go and I'm forced to pick one or the other. This can be an extremely stressful and difficult choice, but that's just it . . . I have a choice.

We all have a choice. What's yours?

Fear, Creativity and Portfolios

I try to consistently update my print portfolio with new photographs, but it is easy to get comfortable with what I already have in there. While I am always excited to add new images to show where my style is going, there is also a subtle fear in the back of my mind about how the new images fit in with my overall creative vision. It's silly I know, because after all it's my portfolio. It's my eye and it's how I see the world. It's pointless to let fear of other people's rejection influence what I put in my book.

We work in a creative industry that frequently ignores creativity. How is that possible you ask? Well, for the same reason I hesitate when adding new images to my portfolio. It's the fear of change . . . fear of doing something different and unproven.

I feel the photography profession is at a point where if you try to follow the old map you will quickly run into a dead end. The NY Times reported on this the other week. The map is old and doesn't account for new roads, tolls, roadblocks and wilderness. This leaves us with two alternatives . . . follow the old road until you run out of gas, or make your own map. I am working on my own map as we speak. It changes frequently, has many roadblocks and countless areas of uncharted terrain, but it's all mine. I'm the only one who can get to where I want to go.

So I'm going to add new images to my portfolio and the only requirement is that I like them and they represent my creative vision. They must be visually striking, intelligent and cohesive yet unpredictable. And maybe, just maybe someone will like them enough to hire me.

What do you fear and what are you going to do about it?

Moving Toward Motion

Lately, I have been experimenting with video production and have been working hard to learn new technology and workflow. The above video was pieced together as a way to learn Final Cut Pro. It took me much longer than it should have, but I learned a lot about editing along the way.

The original footage was shot back in February and was not planned. I used this day as an opportunity to play and experiment with the Canon 5D Mark II. This video is by no means perfect, but it was a hell of a lot of fun to make.

In the spirit of learning, please give me your feedback. What do you like about the video, what do you dislike? I am open to all comments and suggestions.

Happy Spring!

NY Photo Walk

Last week, after 2 days working on a video production in New York I had a couple free hours to explore the city and shoot pictures for myself. It sounds odd, but as a professional photographer I don't shoot that many pictures for me. It's a sad truth that I am working to change by allotting more time for personal work.

Personal work is the whole reason I became a photographer. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my job! I enjoy all types of photography and am blessed by having the opportunity to shoot a wide variety of subject matter, but it has become a rare occasion that I make time to shoot without any preconceived intention. It seems silly, but this has become difficult for me. I'm constantly thinking, can I use this in my portfolio, for an epromo, etc? By thinking this way I allow myself to control my creativity instead of simply allowing it to flow freely.

The idea of a photo walk was originally introduced to me by a good friend, Ian Summers. For useful advice and inspiration check out his blog and artwork. Ian has been helping me define myself as a photographer and encouraging me to unleash my creativity. Ian defines a photo walk as "a photographic sketchbook – an exercise in seeing." A photo walk is to be without attachment to how the photographs will be used.

So, with that in mind I set out last Saturday with camera in hand and open eyes. After dropping my friend off in the meat packing district, I made my way toward the High Line based on his recommendation. It was a gorgeous day to be in NY and I found myself wandering around, looking at whatever interested me. I was walking for almost 3 hours and probably only covered about 1 mile. Slow and steady.

I found myself being drawn to textures and graphic compositions. I shot a total of 48 images or the equivalent of 2 rolls of film. I took my time, allowing subjects to present themselves. I didn't try to control the situation but rather waited for what Cartier-Bresson called the decisive moment.

This photo walk was therapeutic in the sense that I allowed myself to see whatever I wanted to see. There was no one but me deciding what to shoot. It felt great and after going back through what I shot I realized I had some images that I wanted to share. I'm not sure what they say about me as a photographer, but that's not the point. I think the point is that they represent one of the many ways in which I see the world. Below are three photos from this photo walk. If you want to see my 15 favorite, click HERE.