The spark of Vidal Smith’s creativity was lit back in 1953 when as a child he was given a Brownie camera, a Kodak model which was very popular then (see photograph below). He further developed his skills by reading Time-Life books on photography.
Later on he developed his skills further when he was teaching at the University of Maryland Dental School. He has also done various short courses over the years.
Vidal defines photography as painting with light. He says that composition of a photograph determines the quality of the shot. He has photographed many subjects. However, his favourite subjects are people. He has a particular eye for beautiful women. He prides himself as having photographed most of the Portland landscape, the parish in which he lives. However, he does miss shooting the cityscapes of New York City and Washington, D.C., cities that he resided in.
Top of the line brand Nikon is his camera of choice. However, he believes that you can take good photographs regardless of the equipment that you have. For example, during the recent floods in Portland he took some photographs with an Iphone. (See photo below)
Even though Vidal’s grounding was in film, he has fully embraced the digital technology. He says that the new digital platform has allowed for easier manipulation of photo images. However, he appreciates the discipline he acquired through using film because you had to get the shot right the first time.
Even though there are many options for artificial lighting, Vidal says that natural lighting is the best.
Over the years, Vidal has done assignments for European magazines. He has won on-line photographic competitions as well as competitions staged locally by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC). He says that he is his biggest critic and he must feel satisfied with his photographs before sharing them with others.
Up and coming photographers have benefited from Vidal’s experience as he has lectured students at the Edna Manley School of Performing and Visual Arts. He has words of advice for those wanting to become professional photographers. One must learn as much about the craft and equipment. Keeping a record of all images is vital to measuring progress. There is a lot of information on the internet. Vidal recommends youtube as one such source. He says “practice, practice, practice”. Be self critical, ask questions, look at others’ work. Help those coming behind you.
Music runs in Vidal’s blood. His mother, the late Daphne Vidal Smith was a renown music educator and founder of one of Jamaica’s most prestigious schools Mona Preparatory. Vidal played guitar and bass in a band during the early 1960s with Jamaican jazz great Monty Alexander who happened to be his classmate at Jamaica College. His creative spirit lead him to play other instruments such as the violin, trombone, piano, clarinet and saxophone. The latter he taught himself to play.
Believe it or not, Vidal spends most of his time practicing dentistry which he loves. He regards himself as blessed for having the best of all worlds by doing the things that he loves to make his livelihood. Vidal continues to enjoy life to the fullest, pursuing his passions.
(c) A. Pierre Sobers 2016