Artist Spotlight: Alix Smith

Why are you a photographer?
What I find most satisfying about photography is the way in which it allows me to document “reality” while at the same time creating my own version thereof; in other words, the reality I present is a reality based upon what I choose to include in the frame and what I choose to leave out. There is something powerful about dictating the terms according to which people can enter into your reality.

What catches your eye?
Drama. Theatrics. Color. Lighting.

How do you describe your work?
I refer to what I do as “conceptual portraits,” meaning that I come up with an idea or concept that I would like to explore and then I find people that fit that idea. So it becomes less about the people themselves but rather what they represent. For instance, for my current project, "States of Union," I am photographing gay and lesbian couples and families. By playing off of classical paintings, I am offering a legacy of depiction to a group of people that, historically, have no visual legacy. In this way, while the portraits are about the subjects, they also go beyond the individuality of the people and speak to a greater issue.

How do you choose your subjects?
First and foremost, they have to fall into the project theme. After that, it varies. For "States of Union," I sent out a request to friends who passed it on to their friends and so on. I also contacted various LGBT organizations, which were kind enough to send out my request in their newsletters. Once I started photographing, one set of subjects would get me in contact with another, who got me in touch with another, etc. ... I don’t really have a formula it all seems to happen rather organically.

Tags: Art