Can’t make it to New York City for the parade? We’ll take you there. SMITH photography editor Audrie Lawrence began a Flickr search for Halloween images and stumbled upon the work of Michael Smith, a 52-year-old photographer from Starrucca, PA, who only in the past few years started shooting digitally and whose birthday is in fact Halloween. “The moment I came across Michael’s image stream, I was transfixed,” says Lawrence. “His eerie and timeless images of the Halloween Parade transported me to the experience of the parade and the night of Halloween.”
SMITH asked Smith a few questions about himself and what inspires an aesthetic that one Flickr member calls “authentic echoes from old weird America.” View his stream here.
Name: Michael Reed Smith.
Camera: For these shots I used a Canon F1 with 24-, 35- and 85-mm lenses. My flash was an NVS-1 (a modified 283 Vivitar). Currently I still shoot with the F1, but also use a Fujica GW690, a Canon G5 digital and a Leica MP.
What first attracted you to photography?
I have always been interested in photographing people, and the street is the easiest way to do people pictures. I suppose the attraction to street photography comes from the photographers and photo books I admired most when I was young. The Farm Security Administration photographs come to mind, as well as photographers such as Robert Frank, Larry Clark, Danny Lyons, Phillip Jones Griffiths, and Susan Meiselas.
Is NYC’s Halloween parade something you attend and photograph every year, or are these images scenes you wanted to capture for the sake of recording them?
Actually, I only went to the NYC parade twice. The second time was with a camera.
What’s the most important quality of a photo for you?
My rule of thumb for any photograph, no matter what the subject, is whether it can hold my attention for more than five seconds.
What do you consider off-limits?
I don’t consider much off-limits as long as my subject is not overtly hostile to my picture taking.
Where do you derive inspiration?
A lot of photographers inspire me. Today I looked at some of Eugene Richards’s photos.
What are your other favorite Flickr streams?
John Brownlow is someone I discovered recently on Flickr. I think his street photography is amazing.
What are the sites, photocentric or not, that you most love online?
I’ve fallen in love with Joe Bageant’s writing lately. His site is called Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches From America’s Class War.