Kourtney Jackson Smith
I Always Prefer Shooting on Film
Kourtney Jackson Smith is a photographer and art director based in L.A. Kourtney loves shooting on 35mm and medium format film, while focusing on personalities and identities of human beings as a whole or subjects in the frame. Freshness, soft yet vibrant colors, emotional-harsh romanticism define the image. In this interview, we speak about working on set with models, shooting commercial projects on film, and conveying emotions in fashion photography.
Kourtney worked with clients like Urban Outfitters, Madewell, Nordstrom, COS Stores, Who What Wear and many others.
Why photography? What appeals to you in this field of activity?
I kind of fell into photography when I was young as a means to process my internal world externally. Now, I value it as a way to participate in a history of a craft but also as a space for experimentation. It's also how I pay my bills and I appreciate that!
What do you usually think about during the final moments before you fall asleep?
I actually try to clear my mind, otherwise, I might have trouble falling asleep.
How do you like to spend your weekends?
I like to reward myself on the weekends with a gallery or museum visit, several hours of reading outdoors, and quality time with close friends (karaoke may or may not be included).
What is the hardest emotion to convey through the photographs that take more time to work with the model on? Why do you think it is so?
Complex emotions are hard to convey with models and still photography, in general. Fashion/editorial photography needs to be easily understood, so it leans a bit more into the spectacle rather than about the contemplative-documentary-esque photography which is able to capture a bit more breadth of emotion as it can be a bit more like a fly-on-the-wall to true human experience.
"I kind of fell into photography when I was young as a means to process my internal world externally."
Where can one see you in your city, what cafe, park, or any other place you tend to visit frequently?
I like to take classes for fun at Pasadena City College, so you can often find me reading at a coffee shop in the area. Or some of my favorite outdoor reading spots: Descanso Gardens and the sculpture garden at the Norton Simon.
What is your favorite movie of all times that you can watch again and again? What is special about it for you?
I wish this were an easy question for me!
For which Haute Couture House you would really love to shoot a lookbook or a commercial?
Does old Céline count?
What is this one thing you would advise to never forget when working with models or stylists on your vision?
Remember your creative vision but also be kind.
What is the last book you read that you can say changed your life? What did you learn from it?
Herschel Chipp's 'Theories of Modern Art.' It's mostly a collection of essays from modern artists and theories, something I'm hoping to study further in grad school at some point.
What are your plans for 2019?
Potentially starting an MA in Art Theory abroad. Taking my first German language class. Experimenting with large format photography and hoping for more directing projects.