Our interview with Forrest Smith, adventure photographer.
Many photographers love to talk about how they got their first camera. For most photographers, this day marks their first timid step towards saying “fuck a day job” and allowing creativity to forge their path forward. It’s a rebellion of sorts. It’s kinda poetic.
To be honest I have no clue when I got my first camera. It was in high school, it was a Canon Rebel t3i, and it was promptly stolen from my possession. Damn.
I first started taking photography seriously in my sophomore year of college. My life was a mess. Between a break up, being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (I knew it had a name, I just didn’t know what to call it) and a larger-than life existential crisis, it was safe to say this was my rock bottom. So I made a decision.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I did know something. But, I knew I loved creativity. I loved being outdoors. I loved people. And I wanted to travel.
I also owned a camera.
For the summer of 2016, I decided I would freelance photography. I literally had no clue what I was doing. Literally. I booked senior portrait sessions for dirt cheap and shot every sunrise and sunset for three months straight. I put a photo on Instagram a day, and focused on doing things that I wanted to do. My mental health got better. I felt happier. I had found my passion. And I was still broke as hell.
Over that summer I made as much money as I would have washing dishes at a local restaurant. That didn’t matter. For the first time in a while I cared about something and had a community that cared about what I was doing as well. My Instagram took off (don’t even ask, I have no clue how), and for the first time in my life it became feasible for me to support myself through doing something I wanted to do. Whenever people asked me what I’d been up to, I’d tell them I was turning “my passion into my profession”. I’m still working. The work never ends.
I’m still growing as an artist. As a photographer, so much of your ability to create relies on your story as a person. Your experience. Your vantage on life. I’m still finding what’s unique to me, and most of all, what I think is important.
My camera has given me the ability to speak to people. I believe I’m here for a reason, and at this point I’m just working to find the words to tell you why.