Rodney Smith is a superb talented American photographer, who captures the simplicity and elegance of another era. Rodney studied photography under Walker Evans at Yale. In 1975 he received a fellowhip, which enabled him to live in Jerusalem for three months. The world he photographed while there resulted in the book The Land of Light, published by Houghton Mifflin. (White sandwashed walls, lean-faced men with hypnotic eyes, glossy brown-eyed women and children with brilliant smiles. This collection achieves an even more powerful effect today.) After its publication, Rodney was asked to lecture at Columbia University, the University of Mexico, University of Madrid, Harvard University, and Goethe University. Adding to his mystery, Rodney declined all invitations, instead riding slow trains in India, bicycling through the Camarque, strolling the streets in Paris (where at a flea market he buys the Duke of Windsor’s luggage tags). Eventually he returns to Yale to earn a degree in Divinity and become an adjunct professor. And finds time to photograph landscapes and portraits throughout the Sea Islands of South Carolina and the Mississippi Delta. Followed, of course by a mid-life crisis at age 28. (He still watches nothing but movies made before 1947.)
Today, Rodney is a celebrated photographer with a wonderful breadth of subject matter and feeling. He’s had dozens of shows. Won 75 awards. Is collected by Carnegies, Whitneys, and Rockefellers, plus, scads of orchestra and museum patrons and a few enlightened rock stars. Nan A. Talese/Doubleday published his second book, The Hat Book, in 1995 (in-between working with Norman Mailer and Jimmy Carter). His work is represented in every important gallery across the globe; in some very exotic (and not so exotic) places.