Jamie Smith is intrigued by the process of observation and the interplay between contrasting elements, whether that be the physical and graphic interaction between colors and objects, or emotionally evocative social, economic, and cultural differences. His work often illuminates intimate personal exchanges as he captures the humor, struggle, joy, dignity, and ultimately the human spirit of the subjects he photographs.
After many years working as a photographer in Silicon Valley, Southern California, and New York City, Jamie relocated to Northeastern Pennsylvania and in 2011 opened TW Shoemaker Art in the same building that served as his great-grandfather’s hardware store over a century earlier.
In 2015 he founded the Social Fabric Collective, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides professional photography equipment, education, and inspiration to diverse and dynamic high school students.
Jamie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art from the University of California at Santa Barbara. From 2000 to 2006 he independently photographed journalism assignments for newspapers in Northeastern Pennsylvania including The Times Leader, and in Southern California for the San Diego Union-Tribune and The North County Times. In 2007 Jamie moved to New York City and begin working with Jay Maisel. Between 2007 and 2014, Jamie produced more than 50 week-long Jay Maisel Workshops in New York City. The workshop grew to attract participants from over 35 countries with varied professional backgrounds and a common passion for photography. In 2015 Jamie branched out to start a new series of workshops, still focused on the exploration of the creative process, but this time featuring a diverse group of professional teachers and instructors to lead daily intensive sessions.
He was elected to the board of the San Diego Chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers. In 2017 Jame was appointed by Wilkes University's President to sever on the Commission of the Sordoni Art Gallery in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Though the list of his mentors and influences is endless, some of his creative personality is easily traced back to his childhood. Jamie grew up in Palo Alto, California, but spent summers at his grandmother’s house on the banks of the Susquehanna River in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Going to kindergarten thru high school in Silicon Valley during the height of the digital revolution exposed him to the spirit of innovation that drove the greatest increase in jobs and wealth in human history. At the same time, the Wyoming Valley in NEPA, although economically depressed by comparison, revealed to Jamie a landscape steeped in tradition and rich in history - the anthracite, immigrants, labor unions, manufacturing, energy, and train travel that powered the nation’s Industrial Revolution. These two very different worlds left an equally lasting impression.
“I am fortunate to have been exposed to such different cultures at a young age long before I became a photographer. Those experiences continue to inform my work - they instilled in me an insatiable curiosity, and more importantly developed my sense of empathy.
Photography is less about what you look at and more about how you see what is around you. Perception is paramount. The glass is neither half empty nor half full. It IS full - half water, and half air.
My teaching philosophy is simple - I'm generous and demanding. I expect students to be more interested in growth and revelation than repetition and perfection. Open minded individuals who are inclined to be engaged and accountable usually tell me that the honest criticism is the most valuable part of the workshop. Those who prefer photographs that ask questions rather than answering them and who consider challenging work pleasurable and rewarding, will get the most out of the class.
As far as my own work, my personal projects are constantly evolving - I wonder what and where the next economic revolution will take place. What will the people from the Silicon Valley of my youth look like in fifty years? And what will become of all the people, history, and business potential in the rust belt regions like NEPA? I'm not always certain what I want to photograph next, but isn't that serendipity part of the fun?"
- Jamie Smith