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Rodney Smith: A Leap of Faith, A Discussion with David Fahey, Leslie Smolan, Rebecca Snef, and Paul Martineau


Rodney Smith: A Leap of Faith

A Discussion with David Fahey, Leslie Smolan, Rebecca Snef, and Paul Martineau

Getty Museum

March 21, 2023

Known for his stunning, whimsical, and surreal images, Rodney Smith (1947–2016) believed that photography was his way of communicating with the world, reconciling the mundane with the ideal, and shifting from anxious loner to participant. Smith started out as a photo-essayist, turned to portrait photography, and found his niche, and greatest success, in fashion photography. Inspired by W. Eugene Smith, taught by Walker Evans, and devoted to the techniques of Ansel Adams, he was driven by the dual ideals of technical mastery and pure beauty. On the occasion of the new Getty publication Rodney Smith: A Leap of Faith,, this conversation features a distinguished panel and will examine some of Smith’s most iconic images, as well as never-before-seen photographs that illustrate his creative process, unwavering commitment to his craft, and evolution as an artist.

Participants: David Fahey (moderator) is owner and founder of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles.

Paul Martineau is curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum and author of Rodney Smith: A Leap of Faith.

Rebecca A. Senf is chief curator at the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona.

Leslie Smolan is the executive director of the Estate of Rodney Smith and founding partner of Carbone Smolan, a design firm in New York, New York.

This program was presented at the Getty Center and Online on Sunday, May 21, 2023.