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Meet Ken Smith

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ken Smith.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
My photography career was inspired by my love for nature as well as my affection (of all things) for model railroading. The late John Allen was a photographer based in California who did product photography for Varney Trains. Much of his early work incorporated still life models with actual photographic backdrops. This was light years ahead of its time back in the 1960s.

Eventually, John built a legendary grand model railroad that virtually every magazine wanted to cover. Johns work, as well as Ansel Adam’s work, got me hooked into building both a model railroad and a darkroom at the same time.

My work career brought me down a different path, but I continued to shoot every chance I had. In 2000, I began building model railroad scenes and photographing them in actual outdoor settings. This was a rather new concept for magazine work, and I continued to produce articles for several different magazines through 2005.

I continued shooting landscapes and real-life trains while still working for corporate America until 2012 when I eventually became a layoff statistic. At that juncture, I came to the crossroads of doing what I loved to do or sit in another cubical. The decision was easy, and I became a full-time fine art photographer.

Please tell us about your art.
I photograph US landscapes as well as Americana images and still lifes. I believe our country is so diverse that it would be impossible to photograph it all in anyone’s lifetime. While I may photograph areas that everyone may know, I try to look for compositions that are unique or look for the epic moment where light and shadow produce that emotional wow factor.

I like to create images that spark an emotional response from the viewer. Often times, the goal of my Americana imagery is to bring someone back to a point in time that history becomes the connective tool for the viewer. By finding these images in real life situations or by creating them in my home studio, I produce images that end up being unique to me.

In my studio, I produce light painting still life images using period correct props. I wanted a specific look to these images and spent hundreds of hours working with different lighting techniques until I came up with a style that was different than other light paintings I reviewed. Instead of being a copycat of sorts, I ended up producing a body of work that had not been produced before.

My most recent body of work affectionately dubbed “American Peddlers” was a collection of 23 vintage bikes dating from the late 1930s to early 1970s that I acquired. I traveled all over the US, bring these bikes to specific locations, set up, then photographed them. It was quite the undertaking, to say the least!

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
First, study your competition! Artists who have created a successful path usually just didn’t happen upon it. Most worked their tail off. Look for those game changers!

Second, look inward at your work and how it resonates within the market place. While creating artwork is important to feed your soul, it is just as equally important to create artwork that feeds your family. I constantly review my work, my website, my marketing techniques, and an ever-changing art buying demographic so that I can best plant my business in front of potential collectors.

Lastly, surround yourself with successful people, not just artists. Success breeds success, Conversely, misery loves company.

Fortunately, my wife supported our family for the three years I needed to successfully build a business that now supports her and my family. Without my bride and her support, there would be no Ken Smith Photography. She was a key element to my success both as a business person and as a human being.

For those artists that are not sure just where to start, I wrote a digital download book called “Selling Your Fine Art Photography and Two Dimensional Artwork.” It is a digital download book available on my website.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I exhibit my artwork at many prestigious art festivals annually across the nation. My work is also available online at my website at www.krsmithphotography.com. On my website, you can see my ever changing events schedule.

Also on my website is a page called Visual Art Solutions. Here, you can see exactly what you need to do to “see” what one of my pieces might look like in your home or office with just a few easy steps.

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Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition, please let us know here.

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