Richie Smith Jr
I am Richie Smith Jr (aka Lenzwizard). I am a photographer and Photoshop composite artist that hails out of the West side of Central New Jersey in the green hills of Hunterdon County where I was born and raised. As a child growing up, I spent time living on a dairy in NJ and then in the inner city of Canton, Ohio and later spending several years in the very rural Scott County, in the southwestern part of Virginia. Then returning and settling back to Hunterdon County. I also have a home with my wife in North Central Thailand.
Today I am an active photographer all around the NJ, NYC & Philly area. Well known for my Photoshop composite work I can most times be found out shooting with models or musicians in the Philadelphia/Lehigh Valley area. While portrait work is a mainstay of my business, making dramatic composites using state of the art Adobe Photoshop is a long time and ever changing passion. Always keeping current with industry changes I am a longtime member of NAPP (National Assoc. Photoshop Professionals). I am a true believer that “the learning process never ends.”
When not out shooting in the tristate area I can be found 10,000 miles away trekking around Southeast Asia with a passion for capturing everyday life in a Thai village or just wandering the farmlands.
Would you like to complete our full Editorial interview or skip straight to uploading your photos? (12 more interview questions).
Our readers would love to get to know you more Richie. Tell us about yourself, what is unique about you?
I feel unique as a photographer because it was the last thing I ever expected to see myself doing. I never aspired to be a photographer. It just happened… And I love it.
Richie, what are your passion and aspiration in life? How did you start as a Photographer?
Photography for me started in the days of the film although I was never too serious about it. However I my mother, like most mothers always seemed to have a Kodak camera of some sorts, usually the 110 Instamatic. Seeing her with that little camera instilled a sense that photos were important. Of course, now days we know this because everybody has a mobile phone camera at the very least.
As an adult digital photography really reached out and grabbed me. Being a guitar player/musician creativity has always been inside me and photography soon took over my creative side and then moved on to be a business for me.
Who is your inspiration in life Richie? How do you keep inspired?
In my photography life I am inspired by the masters, people who have traveled the road before me. Jay Maisel, Joe McNally, Lindsay Adler, Joe Grimes and my sixth grade high school science teacher who first showed me how to develop film.
We all make mistakes Richie, we wish we could take back. Please tell us about a time being a Photographer , you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.
I think back to when I wanted to first start shooting with models and there were a lot of things I did not understand. I assumed a lot of things and that was wrong. I just assumed people would be on time and prompt and that it would be easier than it was. I am a photographer I know settings and camera gear, I operate the camera and it does what I want. I had to learn that does not work with people. And I did learn that and overcame it.
Richie ,when you’re working with a large number of clients, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to them all. As a Photographer, how do you go about prioritizing your clients’ needs?
I give every client's project the personal attention it deserves, from beginning to finish. I am a professional and I treat my clients and business accordingly.
I work by scheduled appointments, I discuss what the client needs for their project and I set parameters and price based on that information. Customer care is of the utmost importance and held to the highest regard.
My goal is not to sell products & prints, but to give my clients/s what they are looking for and accomplish this in a professional and creative manner.
I like to say "I offer them not just a photography service they will like, but rather a photography experience they will love."
Please tell us Richie, about a time you had to be very strategic in order to meet all your top priorities as a Photographer?
At every wedding I have ever shot lol. Weddings are daunting to say the least. The thought that "this is one of the most special days in the life of two people that are paying me money" never leaves my mind. So lighting, gear, weather and Murphy's law can all be hacking away at you, but you must have the attitude and professionalism to not let it ruin someone else's special day.
I don't consider myself a "wedding" photographer, but somehow people still want me.
Richie, please give us an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work.
Most times when people are negative about something I will agree with them and say something to the effect of; "You know what you're right, I used to look at it that way too. But then I found that it could also be done be done this way as well."
Works most of the time but not all. lol
Richie please tell us about your proudest professional accomplishment as a Photographer. There might be many, but there is always this proudest moment that you just want to share to everyone. What is it and why?
I think the moment that stands out the most is when I captured the image that is currently the flagship photo on the homepage of my website. Model Nicole Gallagher wearing a beautiful floral headpiece that I created. I liked the image as soon as I captured it, but it wasn't until weeks later during editing that I fell in love with the image.
Richie, please give us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it?
Creativity comes by accident sometimes and one time while doodling in Photoshop with a crazy fun photo that was shot at the end of a model shoot. I created an amazing composite image of model Kendall Strampel. I asked her to put on a gas mask for a fun shot, and later created an image of her sticking her head through the gate at the entrance to the medical cell block at famed Eastern States Penitentiary.
What advice would you give to the people who wants to be successful as a Photographer?
In the beginning it is about learning how to use a camera and exposure triangle, ISO, shutter speed and aperture. Beyond that I always say don't get hung up on buying the latest and best gear, put your money into buying the best lenses you can afford, don't worry about megapixels, shooting speeds and all the other blah blah blah. A good lens is where it is at.
Shoot available light until you know it like you know camera settings. By then you have the knowledge and hopefully the money to start buying strobes.
Do not go into debt buying gear, use your craft to make you money. I would go to the local motocross track and shoot on practice days just to get cash for gear. Somebody was always looking for photos. The money is there but it will not come to you, "you have beat the streets and find it."
Most of all be nice to other photographers and network.
Are you looking for collaboration with fashion talents, brands and creatives? If yes, please state below what type of collaboration you are looking for?
I'm always looking for the next project whatever it might be. I do not put labels or names on what I'm looking for. Projects can really be anything from studio to locations and models, brands, or commercial projects. I like working with teams. Photography for me is all about people.
Now for the best part Richie! Please upload 5-10 photos so we can get to see your work.
Cover Photo; Model Nicole Gallagher, Makeup and hair by Ambre Baxter IG beauty.by.ambre
Photo d1: Fitness model Nixlot Dameus
Photo e2: Model Amanda Lennon IG amandalennon, hair, makeup & styling by Megan Motter IG msquared_hair
Photo f3: Fitness model Kendall Strampel IG fearstofit
Photo g4: Model Tiffany Reyes IG laydeefly
Photo h5: Model Nicole Gallagher IG booreo92, SFX makeup by Jade Alexander Brown IG jombolaya, Styling by Lenzwizard
Photo i6: Model Kendall Strampel IG fearstofit, hair & makeup by Aryn Wilson IG beautifulinspiredbyarynwilson
Photo j7: Model Kendall Strampel IG fearstofit, styling by Lenzwizard
Photo k8: Model Cynthia Ann IG cynthiaann_x, hair makeup & styling by Megan Motter IG msquared_hair
Photo l9: Model Kallie Pyatt IG kallie__marie, Hair & makeup by Ambre Baxter, Dress by Unique Vintage, Hat by Patricia Josephine
Photo m10: Fitness model Kendall Strampel IG fearstofit