Q&A: Steven B. Smith — Waiting out the Latter Days


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? I sometimes try not to buy everything I think I may need. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? Mitch McConnell, Social Media, everything. Are you aware of any conspiracies? Ted Cruz is the Zodiac killer. What is it that interests you about photography? That it constantly lies while telling a truth. What is the worst thing about city life? Too many good beers. What part of the planet would you like to explore? Siberia. What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? Vampires do exist. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? Julius Ceasar. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Social Anthropology. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? The time when my father was fighting off an attack from wild turkeys with a garbage can lid and a plastic water jug. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. Furniture making. Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. The Walker Evans photograph of Bethlehem PA. When you think of all the facets of the mill workers’ lives compressed into one frame it is haunting and humbling. How often do you take other people’s advice? I always pretend that I will. Describe a personal hell. Film prices constantly rising. Which living person do you most admire? My Brother. On what occasion do you lie? When people confront me while I am photographing. What was the last crime you witnessed? Someone from my neighborhood was drunk and drove their car into my next-door neighbour’s house. The driver was not seriously hurt and in order to avoid being arrested they crawled out of the house they had crashed into and ran two blocks to their home before the police arrived. I have since learned that this is not illegal in Rhode Island. What is the best way to educate yourself? Read, make things, make mistakes, repeat. What is the next book you want to read? Stalingrad by Vasily Grossman. Ultimate camera? Fuji 6×8 rangefinder. Most used camera? Ebony 4×5. What object do you want? A 16 inch jointer. What object do you need? A new roof. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s?. You have a Dick Tracy Radio watch that is real and better than in the comics. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? Yes, sitting in front of screens all day has finally given me the physique I have always wanted. Describe a cheap thrill. Watching my dogs trying to trick each other. Pick a historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. The moon landing. Are impulses more important than consequences? No. Which talent would you most like to have? To be able to fly. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? Prepare for teaching during COVID, answer a lot of emails.

Steven B. Smith is a photographer whose work chronicles the transition of the Western landscape into suburbia. For this work he was awarded the First Book Prize for Photography by the Honickman Foundation and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. His book, The Weather and a Place to Live: Photographs of the Suburban West, was published by Duke University Press in 2005. He has received numerous grand and awards, including Guggenheim, Kittredge and RISCA fellowships. His work has been widely exhibited and can be found in many public collections, such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Smith received a BFA from Utah State University and an MFA from Yale. He is a professor of photography at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 2015, his second monograph, Waiting out the Latter Days, was published by TIS Press. His latest title, Colorado City was selected for publication in LOST II by Kris Graves Projects.

To see more of Steven B. Smith’s work visit — Website / Instagram.

Waiting out the Latter Days is available through TIS Press — tisbooks.pub