When Anthony Smith was younger, he found himself seeing things that others didn’t.
Specifically, he noticed subtleties that only seasoned photographers would pick up on: tilts of the head, posture, and other details that most people would overlook.
By high school, he was snapping thousands of pictures of classmates, friends, and more, and it became even clearer that photography was Smith’s true calling.
This calling was on full display at his recent gallery exhibit, Freedom Images. The sold-out exhibit, a collaboration with fellow local artist Kandice Miller, featured Smith’s shots of a series of models posing nude in nature scenes. The exhibit took place at DeLO Studio, an art gallery and studio in LaVilla.
Smith found himself drawn to the idea of a nude shoot because of the raw realism involved in depicting nudity, as well as the opportunity to desexualize the very concept of nudity.
“I don’t want people to think nudity has to be hand-in-hand with sex,” says Smith.
The photoshoot took place in a few different remote, wooded areas around Jacksonville – as well as one similar spot in Atlanta. It was composed around a Garden of Eden theme, aiming to take us back to a more natural time before materialism.
All but one participant in Smith’s diverse group of models had never actually done nudity before. This meant quickly building trust was key to the success of the shoot. Smith’s focus throughout the process, he says, was on making his subjects feel comfortable. In the end, his efforts paid off.
“Once they let that [nervousness] go, they let out that nervous sigh, it was magic,” Smith recalls.
A Photography Background
The exhibit was Smith’s artistic debut – but it was far from his first experience behind the camera.
While he had always had an eye for composition, Smith’s passion truly took off after his grandmother bought him a Polaroid camera in high school. Smith had moved to Jacksonville from Miami at the end of seventh grade, and was struggling to find his artistic voice here in Jax.
That camera turned out to be the perfect creative outlet, as Smith proceeded to take thousands of shots of his classmates and friends over the next few years. His photography was even featured on the jumbo screen during graduation, and some classmates liked to refer to him as the “class historian”.
“I burned a hole in that camera,” Smith recalls. “There wasn’t one thing I didn’t take a picture of.”
From there, Smith set out to launch a photography career through his company, Unspoken Memories Photography. He’s done photography for weddings, anniversaries, and other big events as well as doing shoots for several local companies.
But with this new exhibit, Smith took a huge step into exploring the artistry of his craft.
What the Future Holds
While it was Smith’s first gallery exhibit, it’s clear when speaking to him that photography is his true passion – and that he’s just getting started.
He already has a couple of exciting projects planned for the near future. He’s planning a “garbage couture” shoot, featuring models wearing ballgowns made out of trash positioned alongside other, decadently-dressed models.
His next shoot, Shadows and Silhouettes, has already drawn interest from the models featured in the Freedom Images shoot who wish to keep working with Smith.
And it’s no surprise that they do. Smith’s charming personality and empathetic nature are a perfect match for the type of bold pictures he aims to capture. His emphasis throughout the process is always on making his subjects comfortable.
“Once your comfort is gone, my comfort is gone,” Smith says.
Smith also indicates that he’d like to branch out into nature photography, capturing animals in their natural habitats. He’d also like to travel the world and capture scenery in lavish locations such as Fiji.
If the reaction to Smith’s first shoot is any indication, it looks like he’s at the launching point of an extremely promising artistic career.