Gary William Smith is a London-based photographer specializing in documentary and street photography. He moved to London from Merseyside in order to study Photographic Arts at the University of Westminster. Much of his personal work takes place on the street, capturing his fascination for the beauty of human interactions against the grand backdrop of urban architecture and light. In addition, he keenly documents the slowly evolving urban landscape. His project “Will you miss me?” is an exploration of our relationship with phone boxes, which are a component of our landscape that stands still, eventually falling by the wayside, as we move. Gary has been exhibited throughout the UK. His most recent public display was at held at the Richmix, London. Check out his photos on Instagram and connect with him on Twitter. To view his online portfolio, go to http://www.garywsmithphotography.co.uk/.
DOMINIQUE JAMES: How did you get started in photography?
GARY WILLIAM SMITH: I have always had an interest in photography. I’ve always had a camera. Even when I was young, I would be shooting in the street—cars, cats, dogs, friends, etc. I remember having a tiny yellow and red 110 film camera. I loved that! I wonder If I could get any decent shots with that now. So what got me really going was after I had come back from holiday about 10 years ago and a friend of a friend had said, “Aye, you know what, your good!” That person turned out to be a photographer, and that got me going. At the time, I never really knew how to make a career from photography so it took me a while but I don’t regard it as lost time. My experience in other fields definitely helps me today.
DJ: What kind of pictures do you like to take?
GWS: I’m a people person, one hundred percent! I love the street and the relations between people and space.
DJ: Who or what would you consider as influential to your photography?
GWS: Well, I would be boring and say Henri Cartier-Bresson. He really got me on the street. His ability to use light was one that really fascinated me. Obviously, his composition and subject matter also are outstanding, but I would say it was the light that got me first, I don’t know what it is but a bin can look stunning in the right light! A more contemporary working photographer is Alec Soth. I just can’t get enough of this guy. I love his style, and narrative.
DJ: What’s your favorite camera and lens?
GWS: I would say my Mamyia C220f with Sekor 80mm f2.8. I love a waist level view finder! Ask me this again in 12 months and I may have another answer as my Pentax 67 is on its way to me!
DJ: Any other particular piece of photo gear that you feel is essential or like using?
GWS: This is a little obvious maybe but you can’t have too many batteries and rolls of film!
DJ: How you edit and enhance your pictures before showing them? What is your post-production process like?
GWS: Depends really, but in general, I’m not huge over editing. It’s just white balances and levels really, sharpening sometimes, but I tend not to edit things out or crop, if it’s not right … then it’s not right.
DJ: How do you share your pictures and to whom?
GWS: I share my projects on Twitter. I like the audience and conversational aspect of it. I do have an Instagram (@from_atob) that’s for mobile phone photography only. But that’s my lot, I’ve never used Flickr or anything like that.
DJ: How do you store or archive your pictures?
GWS: With my negatives, I have folder and folder; but digitally, I use Lightroom to organize my images.
DJ: What do you think of today’s state of photography?
GWS: Interesting question! Well, there is a whole lot of photos but not really a lot of photographers. I am not a fan of HDRs or colour splash over use of filters and such, but in its own right I suppose it’s an art. In 20 years, this could be looked at as the turn, you never know.
DJ: What is that one all-important lesson you’ve learned when it comes to photography?
GWS: Shoot! Think less a home and shoot, if you’re not sure it will work, shoot it then you’ll know!
DJ: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received and can share with others?
GWS: Look at other photographers but don’t reproduce, be inspired by it, read photographers’ stories. It’s never too late to start.
Notes: All photographs on this page by Gary William Smith are used with permission. Copyright © 2016. All rights reserved. For the complete set of interviews and photographs of all the amazing photographers featured on this blog’s exclusive Q&A, please click here.