September 14, 2009

Man with Magnifying Glass

I’m going to go out on a limb, and say this: In order to say something outward, something universal, you must first look inward. I’m sure there are many people who would not agree with me, and that’s fine.  This picture conjures up for me the idea of self-reflection. When I was very young, in my early twenties, I had this tremendous amount of anxiety, emotional intensity that needed an outlet.  I didn’t know how to do it.  Photography became a means to the end of allowing me to express myself.  But I also knew at the same time that it was an incomplete expression—there was much more inside me that needed to get out.  So I began the process of psychotherapy. To me, therapy isn’t just the art of healing—although there is a lot of that included in it—but perhaps more important is the way it allows you to follow Socrates’ declaration: Know thyself. Therapy, and the resulting introspection, allowed me to become sensitive to the parts of me that were hidden, or repressed, or unavailable to me consciously.  It was an incredibly wonderful gift that the twentieth century gave to me.  Many of these pictures in this book are a direct result of that.

To say a photographer has a vision is to say the photographer has something unique to say to about the world.  Why do some photographers have something unique to say, when so many others just shoot pictures that are general and lacking vision? Most people would say it has to do with talent. Maybe. But maybe not.  Maybe it has nothing to do with talent.  Maybe it has to do with the ability to express one’s feelings. The person who presents a strong vision has figured out a way to express his or her feelings, while others are struggling to do that. Talent, then, becomes not so much artistic talent, though that may be a good part of it, but rather emotional talent.

This applies to music as well: much of music, obviously, is a technical skill, as is photography.  However, the difference between a good musician and a great musician is, I think quite obvious: emotion. When I was in Israel right after graduate school, I sat in on master classes with Arthur Rubinstein, Isaac Stern, Alexander Schneider, and Gina Bachauer.  I remember a particular class with Isaac Stern.  They had some of Israel’s greatest prodigies on the violin.  They would play in a technically perfect way.  But then Isaac Stern would play the same thing.  It was like night and day.  The difference was not so much that Isaac Stern knew the notes any better; rather, he could feel it better. He knew himself and his emotions better.



  1. Dear Mr. S.,

    Thank you for presenting yourself in this fashion so that those of us who have been sighing over your photographs ever since seeing the first one, have a place to “hear” some of what goes on in your mind and in your world.

    I’ve enjoyed all your postings, especially this one – about your mention of “emotional talent”. I really agree.

    So Bravo to Knowing Thyself and having the materials/skill at the ready to share those insights and visions with the rest of us. You inspire greatly.

    My very best to you,

    Comment by Cia — September 15, 2009 @ 11:29 am

  2. [...] via Rodney Smith- The End Starts Here. [...]

    Pingback by A Photo Editor - In order to say something outward, something universal, you must first look inward. — September 16, 2009 @ 7:05 am

  3. [...] Rodney Smiths blog..via A Photo [...]

    Pingback by Emotional Talent — September 16, 2009 @ 7:47 am

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bradley Spitzer and Ryan Stone. Ryan Stone said: Talent, then, becomes not so much artistic talent, though that may be a good part of it, but rather emotional talent. [...]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention The End Starts Here -- — September 16, 2009 @ 9:39 am

  5. So glad to find your blog, sir. Huge fan here. And this post is simply sublime in its understated insight. Vision / passion / expression.


    Comment by Donald Giannatti — September 16, 2009 @ 10:10 am

  6. Intriguing post, gorgeous photograph, and beautiful typography. I look forward to future entries.

    Comment by Jim Newberry — September 16, 2009 @ 9:33 pm

  7. [...] Rodney Smith 17/09/2009 ———————————————————————- [...]

    Pingback by blog : luis díaz díaz » cita — September 17, 2009 @ 1:24 am

  8. Rodney, thank you so much for this post. The book looks amazing, bravo. Will you be at Paris Photo in November, by chance?

    Comment by Dani — September 18, 2009 @ 1:33 am

  9. Your book seems unique. After visiting the book site, I think perhaps it should be titled ‘The “High” End’ ?

    I’d like to hear more about your thoughts on marketing strategies.

    Creative writing, great thoughts. I just wish your book was more accessible to me, but I am obviously not your market.

    Comment by Edward Bussa — September 18, 2009 @ 10:31 am

  10. I completely agree with you!

    I think that the ‘ability to express oneself’ is definitely a sign of ‘intelligence’, and when the expression is done well, it is a sign of ‘talent’ that can only stem from ‘self- knowledge’ and ‘-love’.

    Being able to ‘feel the art’ is a sign of completion – the element and the artist are one.

    It is a rare thing that you clearly master – just as Isaac Stern and his violin..


    Comment by Charlotta Ward — October 5, 2009 @ 4:08 am

  11. Hello, and thank you for reading. The price of the book is not meant to alienate anyone. The book was made without any expenses spared. The paper, Mohawk Superfine 80# cover, is the finest available. The printing, masterfully done by Kim Blanchette of Blanchette Press in Vancouver, is perfect. It was printed and bound in the USA (and Canada), as opposed to overseas, where the costs ( and the quality in turn) are less. The End is a special tome, and is made so by the content and the value of its production. To anyone who buys it, it is really one-of-a-kind. For information on purchasing the book in installments, please call the studio at 845.359.3814.



    Comment by admin — January 25, 2010 @ 10:42 am

  12. fabuloso a encia si veler coreis con trico. eirento rento se agnada son estipo mi peuco potesse y trosadico fulhos caramamo.

    Comment by Online um Geld spielen — October 4, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

  13. [...] essere seguite. Tra esse, in questi mesi circa, ho scoperto ad esempio il blog di Doug Menuez e di Rodney Smith. Blog di fotografi che trasmettono sensazioni personali, non solo fotografie ma pensieri. [...]

    Pingback by To Blog, To Twit, To Tumblr | Massimo Cristaldi — February 3, 2018 @ 5:31 pm

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