NARRATOR: David Smith first began taking photographs in the early 1930s. His first pictures were experimental. He made double exposures, and used collage techniques analogous to those he was exploring in sculpture. As time went on his use of photography became more pragmatic. Sarah Hamill.
SARAHHAMILL: In the mid 1940s after he moved up to Bolton Landing, New York, which is around 200 miles north of New York City, he started photographing his works himself. Previously, professional photographers who had been hired by his dealer were the photographers of his work.
If you look at some of his photographs, what you’ll notice is that he’s not photographing them in ways that many sculptures were photographed at the time. He doesn’t use a drop cloth as a backdrop. He doesn’t use artificial lighting. Instead, he places his sculptures outside in the landscape surrounding his Bolton Landing studio and photographs them in relationship to that landscape. He uses ambient light. He also repeatedly used low vantage points and these vantage points had the effect of flattening his sculptures to a single plane.
One of the things that I think is important about his photographs is that in them, he’s testing out different ways of viewing his work.