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Meet Joseph Smith of JWSmithphotography in La Mesa

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

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Joseph. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
Okay, here goes. I’m retired from the U.S. Navy as both active duty and civil service. None of which relates to what I’m doing in this period of my life. I found photography like many dads, through their children. Though I’ve had a camera for much of my life, I dove much deeper when my first daughter was born. Then came the second, another girl.

Thus began a life of school plays, sports, boys (ugh!), dances, graduations, college and so on, all photographic material and all sharpening my skills for what was to come later. It’s now later, I retired and began devoting more attention to my photographic pursuits. I met a few other photographers who helped me along and gave me inspiration but for the most part photography, like many arts, is a solo pursuit.

I’m not a gear head, at least not anymore. A camera is a tool. I prefer to focus on what I can do with the tool; how does the final product appear. No viewer is concerned with how many pixels were in the camera that produced the image. I’m still more the artisan than the artist, and for now, I’m content with that role. I have trouble with the term ‘artist.’ The baggage one carries when declaring yourself an artist is difficult for me. The introvert in me cringes.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Smooth? I suppose most would consider it a smooth ride. I had a fascinating and secure career with the Navy and have been financially able to retire and pursue a post-work life in photography. My work life was very technical, and it’s been a challenge to now explore what I hope is seen as creative expression.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with JWSmithphotography – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
First, I’m not a company in the sense I think you mean. I’m an independent photographer who sells his wares in the digital realm and occasionally in brick-and-mortar galleries.

I’ve been slowly building brand recognition as JWSmithPhotography through my website and an online store called Fine Art America. I also submit my work to the gallery in Borrego Springs whenever they have a show where I feel my work will fit. I do a lot of desert landscapes, and each year I’ll visit the greater southwest, four corners region, southern Utah, etc. to find my compositions.

What sets me apart? That’s a tough one. In the age of Instagram and bright and splashy images looked at by people who only give you a second’s view; it’s hard to stand out. I’m not a bright and splashy photographer. I prefer the quiet, contemplative style. I want people to look at my imagery and consider it.

I think there is still a place for traditional photography; unencumbered by over processed, over-saturated images of iconic places that have been overwhelmed by the Instagram crowd. Much of my work is in B&W. I tend to think in monochrome while composing an image. A strong black and white can be as compelling as anything produced in color; you may just have to look a bit longer.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
The pursuit will always be in becoming better creatively. I’ve been exploring urban photography more, and I believe I’ve found an interest there that I wasn’t completely aware of. Cityscapes have a life and light of their own, and the more I work in that genre, the more I enjoy it.

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