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Today we are so grateful to be sharing our interview with Photographer and Creative Richard Lee Smith Jr. We love his surrealist imagery, his inversion of colors and emphasis on shadows and blurred visions, the connections to nature and our inner wild being. Scroll on to learn more about Richard, his work and inspiration.

What has your progression been like in the world of photography? How has your style evolved over the years?

Well, I've been shooting for 32 years. About the same amount of time I've been painting, my first love. My photography is influenced by my painting and me being an artist first. Doing anything for 32 years, naturally there's going to be an evolution. My art is very connected to my personal growth and evolution as a person. The deeper I go with my meditation and understanding of the world, the deeper everything I do gets.

My photo style that I have now didn't come about until I started shooting digitally. Shooting digital allowed me to explore and have instant results, which sped up my whole artistic process with photography. Then in late 2016 I discovered digital infrared. Which was a step away from what other photographers are doing. I try to be completely unique and original with my art and photography. Digital infrared is what I'm known for these days.

When did your journey into being a photographer begin? Origin story?

It started when I was on a family trip when I was ten, my mom bought me a little 110 film camera. I shot a few rolls of film and when I got them developed I remembered being disappointed in how they turned out compared to how photos looked in magazines. Then again when I was twelve I saved up some money and bought a camera at Target. I took a few rolls of film and basically the same story. It wasn't until journalism class freshman year in high school that I started learning about cameras and my teacher helped me get the right camera for me. It was then that I started shooting and have been ever since. But, it wasn't until 2012 when I got an iPhone and downloaded a picture sharing app called Instagram that people started seeing my photos.

What are some of your favorite subjects to photograph?

Nature, landscapes, or nudes in nature are my favorite. Animals too, really it's all about the lighting. If the lighting is magick, I want to capture it. I really would like to travel to Africa to shoot animal landscapes, that would be a dream come true.

Is there an overarching theme or story to your photography? 

It's my story. A story of my growth as an artist where the longer I'm here exploring, the more magical the world gets.  

Do you have a favorite project or series that you worked on that pushed beyond your expectations / imagination?

Yes! I had a muse that loved to be photographed nude in nature. She was always pushing me to do these shoots. A lot of the time in the middle of the night on full moons.

She was always coming up with these great ideas. We were both collaborating in the moment. The few years I worked with her really pushed me to another level of work. 

Do you have any upcoming travels as everything opens back up?

Yeah, I just moved to Taos, New Mexico. So, I plan on traveling and exploring around here for now. 

Favorite shoot location?

Hands down sand dunes. I love sand dunes. I find them so magical. Actually, there are some sand dunes not far from Taos that I plan on shooting a lot in the future.   

Do you have any favorite herbs/adaptogens that you like to take?

Yes, I like to add Lion's Mane, Reishi, and Ashwagandha to my Matcha in the morning.

Who is your favorite photographer(s) or bodies of photography work?

There are so many great photographers out there but Peter Beard stands out to me. I love everything he did. The way he draws on his photographs is very unique and inspiring to me.  

Favorite artists?

Van Gogh, Jean-Michelle Basquait, Mark Bradford and Oscar Murillo. I love these artists and I'm most inspired by them.

Where else do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in nature, museums, music, art openings, looking at art and deep intimate conversations about life.

Who is on your current playlist?

I love making playlists. The playlist I listen to most is “psychedelic rock and others”. I'm woodenship on Spotify if you want to, check them out. But since moving to Taos I've been listening to Bright Black Morning Light a lot, Linda Perhacs Paralleograms, Marty Robbins and Sir Richard Burton lately. 

If you could go backward or forward in time to take photos, when and where would you go?

I would really like to go backwards in time 300 to 400 years or longer. I would like to see the world without roads, fences or modern buildings. I would also like to time travel to the Monterey Pop Music festival as well. 

Some additional thoughts...anything else you would like to share with us.

Since moving to Taos I've been very inspired, working on some new paintings and of course taking photos of this new landscape. You can follow me on instagram @woodenship where I will give updates on new works and upcoming shows.

All images courtesy of Richard Lee Smith Jr.