Paul Smith Lecture – 150 MC

When I came to the universities open day, I was briefly introduced to Paul and his work, with the only pictures being shown were from his project “impact” which I found really inspirational seeing as I have an interest into forensic photography, so those pictures really caught my eye.

However, since being at the uni, we were given a talk by him which went into more detail about all the work he has done and how he has progressed from early life to his degree, to where he is now.
He started off by talking about how he joined the army at very young age because he wanted to follow in his brother’s footsteps, who had joined the army earlier. He was initially placed as an explosive artist, but after going through periods of doing nothing at all, he was assigned to be a medic because the army was lacking in one.
But during that time, he picked up a camera and take pictures here and there, leading to the army giving him a 6 week training course in photography.

But he began to get bored with being in the army, so he left to take an art foundation course, so he came to Coventry to do the course. During that time, he became interested in the work of Jimmy Pike, so he went on an extended trip of around 5 months to travel to Australia to meet him and others that did paintings as well. He then decided that he wanted to take more time out as a photographer. He decided to work for a year with the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme photographing those that were trekking over mountains.

So after this year, he went on to complete his degree before he went to the Royal College of Art in which he saw various Turner Prize nominees, yet at this point he didn’t have a focus onto his work at all, so it was suggested to him to look at why he took the pictures from when he was in the army. And by doing this he discovered he took pictures to show the truth of the army, with all the suspicion that surrounded this. He had discovered Photoshop at this point, he went about taking various self portraits for his final show. It was at this point Charles Saatchi found his work and was so interested in it, he bought 13 of his pieces.

So after this success, Smith was encouraged to carry on with work and create another series. SO he ventured into the area of “Ladism” where he was looking at the snap moment of when a picture would be taken from the night, which meant some of his pictures were over exposed or blurred even. This proved to be a great success as well, as Saatchi bought 12 of these pictures, as well as Elton John buying one as well.

So from then onwards Smith began to show more and more of his work, being shown in various galleries and being called up to help out with various pieces, with the most extravagant being helping out Robbie Williams with an album cover, that had a time period that was so short there wasn’t the room for error at all. This proved to be a great success, and Smith carried doing various other projects, such as superhero, disguising himself as other celebrities to the point where he was just recognisable and pushing the boundaries of pornography to the point where it really wasn’t pornographic in nature any more.

Looking at all the work Paul did, it was surprising how one lucky break can be all that you need to get yourself out there in the photographic community really. But even though you may get this lucky break, there has to be a lot of dedication to your photos and time to get everything done in the end. I realise that I won’t be able to get the right photo’s straight away, but it takes time and patience to get it all done in the end.
And even though you may face some problems through your pictures, you shouldn’t be discouraged from continuing onwards as well, as you never know what may happen if you can continue.


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