The ability to capture a moment and turn it into a memory is a skill. I mean, sure, we all have phones in our pockets now, so in theory, we all have the potential to be photographers. But there's something to be said for the professionals out there, those who buy the expensive equipment and know how to use it. Those who have honed their craft over thousands of snaps on both digital and film. Those who carve out a voice in a medium that is sometimes voiceless.
And that brings us to one local photographer who has talent in spades. Say hello to Daniel Smyth, a 34-year-old Cincinnatian who is married with three beautiful daughters and calls Price Hill home. And while aligning the triangle of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO might be his forte, he has other strengths too. According to Smyth, he's a budding pizzaiolo and curry enthusiast.
We recently met up with Daniel to find out more about his background, inspiration, and then some. Take it away, Daniel!
Cincinnati Refined: What got you hooked on photography?
Daniel Smyth: Human connection. In the summer of 2006, after I graduated from CCM, I moved to Chennai, India for two months. Pay phones were hard to come by and very limiting. Sharing images with my friends and family back home allowed me to maintain my relationship with them while halfway around the world. It was also the first time I had ever picked up a camera. Since then, photography has been an amazing way to get to know other people and to help preserve memories.
CR: Favorite subject to shoot?
Smyth: People. Most people tell me that they hate having their picture taken, but it doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable experience! Pictures should be natural. As a wedding photographer, I believe it’s my job to put people at ease, to help them enjoy the process, and to build a relationship with them. I feel like I get to give people a gift by handing them photos that embody who they truly are.
CR: How would you describe your editorial style?
Smyth: Intimate and raw. My goal in photography is to preserve stories. I don’t want to create something artificial and super polished that isn’t real. Fairly often, I’ve had people tell me that I somehow captured who they really are. It’s not an editing trick. It’s my goal to get to know someone and show their authentic self through my photographs.
CR: Camera of choice?
Smyth: Fuji X-T2 for digital. My Yashica 635 or Zenit ET for film. The Fuji gives me a much smaller camera than I used to shoot with, which helps remove a barrier between myself and the people I’m working with, while maintaining image quality. My film cameras are a fun experiment, and they help me to be intentional with every frame.
CR: The ones lens you can’t live without is ______.
Smyth: My 85 1.2 and my 27 2.8 pancake. The 85 is—hands down—my favorite portrait lens. It’s crazy sharp and beautiful. The 27 hits the sweet spot of wide and natural for casual photos of my family and street photography. It’s the perfect walk-around lens.
CR: What’s at the top of your photography bucket list?
Smyth: Photographs are about memories for me, so anywhere with my family is a good start. We just took a trip to Red River Gorge and the photos are so valuable because they show who my wife and daughters are at this specific moment in time—their silly grins, love for the outdoors, and fascination with exploring. I’ve traveled over most of the continental U.S. already. I’d love to be able to take my family to India. Greece and Morocco are super high up on my travel list as well, so if anyone reading this needs a destination wedding photographer, call me!
CR: Any advice for aspiring photographers?
Smyth: Know who you are and what you value before you start making photographs. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of social media and the expectations of others. Pursuing a life of making art will require a vast amount of intentional choices. Learn to value and honor others as you make photographs.
CR: What’s an interesting fact or anecdote about you?
Smyth: I’m an Eagle Scout and used to be able to tie over one hundred knots.
CR: Motto to live by?
Smyth: Be persistent. Figure it out. If you need something, ask.
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To find out more about Daniel, head to his website. And don't forget to scroll back to the top to peruse some of his photos.