The Art of Honoring Another Artists Work

One of the blessings I have in my life is my mother, Camille, who is staying with me right now. She is a 90-year old wonder. We have a fun time of it when we're not thinking of killing each other. At the point in her life she is divesting herself of her collections, belongings, and memorabilia. Her birthday was last week and it was hard to think of what gift I could give her. I decided an arrangement of flowers would be the best choice. So I called the Green Cottage in High Falls NY and ordered flowers.

I'll let you in on a little secret. If you come across a talented artist, there is nothing more silly, then telling him or her what to do. Why hire a great chef and tell him or her what spices to use? Why ask for a bouquet of flowers from a talented florist (The Green Cottage is one of the best) and then tell them what to do?

Of course people do this all the time. From some self-centered place, they'll tell the painter he's not using the roller correctly, tell the gardener the plants won't thrive in that light. Some people will probably even tell the toll person, "that's not the best way to take the money!" 

I am blessed with the ability to make beautiful images. For me, that is all. I believe in stepping back and letting other artists do their work without presuming, "I can add something to their magic, their vision." 

I picked up the flowers from the Green Cottage, they took my breath away. I asked Camille's permission, "I have a lovely gift for your 90th birthday, but may I photograph it first?" She asked what it was and I told her it was a pet boa constrictor!

Myself and my assistants set up the studio using one light source and created images that will always be known now as Camille's Bouquet. These images will appear shortly at Jim Smith Photo Arts. Here's a sneak peek.

Unveiling Soon to Come

It's amazing to me how disposable our world is. A new cell phone every 6 months, A new shirt, time to buy a new car; we always want the newest, brightest items the second they roll off the assembly line or arrive in the stores.

There's certain things that we acquire that, for whatever reason, truly reflects some aspect of ourselves. Often we are hard-pressed to explain why they resonate so well with us, but we know we cherish them.

If we move to a new place we might leave behind a bedspread, or decide to give away our chairs. We "get rid of our stuff", but we take certain treasured pieces. It's the things we love. No matter where we are, if we don't have these things, it does not feel like home.


Let me speak a minute about the "Museum Collection". The items found in museums are cherished bits and pieces that are years, decades, even centuries old, loved things that have transcended generations. Obviously we can't take a piece from the museum displays, but we can take a photo. Then the piece can sit above our fireplace, or in the dining room, or over our office desk. I think that's the beauty of the museum collection. The best part of shooting the museum artifacts was the idea that we were just like Alice, tumbling down the rabbit hole, and stepping back in time to an entirely new realm.

We get used to seeing reproductions of things, be it a Roman world or some other ancient time in a summer blockbuster. It's so thrilling to see a cup or a book that really was in existence 200 years ago, and now you're the one holding it and photographing it. It's not a prop, or a fake, some plastic thing made by Hollywood, it's the real deal.

Sometimes I feel the soul of the owner (the person in the daguerrotype, or the reader of the prayer book) is retained in these artifacts, even after all these years. Without sounding mystical or superstitious, I could almost hear them walking through the hallways of time as I take the pictures, and this really touches me.

The Collection is to be unveiled soon.

Beauty Grows With Time

Jim Smith Photo Arts is off to a great start. Recently, we've been rethinking our "Museum Collection". The beautiful art we created for the Bevier House in the Hudson Valley would be an excellent addition to our galleries. When I began to revisit the collection I was amazed to find some hidden gems. I think if we take some time the study and work on these pieces, an extraordinary collection will emerge.

The appeal of this collection is that these artifacts mean a great deal to many people. As long as they are sitting in one place, perhaps the audience is too small to discover the innate, rustic beauty of these pieces. If they're included in a gallery that is open 24 hours a day to countless people around the world, then their elegance can truly be discovered.

The other thing that resonates with me about these images is that they're small things in a big space. If you use the right lighting with the right viewpoint and you put your artistic eye and talents to look at things in a unique and beautiful way, that's what makes a piece speak to the world.


My favorite example of my "Museum Collection" is of this delicate image of a very small Bible that the director of the museum, Suzanne Hauspurg, handed to me. It dates back hundreds of years. We paired it with a pair of eyeglasses that could have been worn by the very person reading the Bible. The two are such powerful symbols in and of themselves, and I created an image that just transports you to a time and place not of your own. The magic comes when you feel like you're in that room, stepping across the sea of time to this place, meeting the person who wore those glasses and read that Bible. 

Mohonk Shows

Recently, we have been selling our photo art prints in a number of art shows here in the Hudson Valley. We have been particularly excited to be displaying our art at Mohonk Mountain House. A number of guests have purchased our original prints. This has encouraged us to showcase our work and we are excited to introduce The Spring Gallery. We hope you enjoy our latest efforts. We will continue to share our photographic adventures here in the studio and on location. 

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