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Revealing the inspiration outside of your comfort zone

By Matthew Oxley | 2 years ago

Forrest Winants Smith was born in the Colorado Rockies and from a young age developed a strong connection with the wilderness that surrounded him. Influenced by this connection, when he first picked up a camera at the age of 17 it was intuitive that he document the intimacies which humans find within these environments. 

We featured a selection of his images on the @WorldPhotoOrg feed. 


Hi Forrest. Please introduce your self and your photography to our audience 

Hey! My name is Forrest. I’m a 21-year-old Portland-based photographer. I spent most of my childhood running around the mountains. Growing up in a town of 1,500 full-time residents, there was often more to be found at the tops of mountains than inside on the weekends. I picked up a camera for the first time when I was 18, and instantly loved the way I could capture the outdoors and the relationships I build within natural spaces. Storytelling is my ultimate goal with photography.


Tell us about the series of images we featured. Do you have a favorite, and why? 

My favorite image which you featured has to be my picture of the fox. This little guy used to hang around my favorite camp spot and would come out every once in a while to check us out and see what we were up to. In one summer I saw him on four separate occasions. This specific time, he sat down no more than 15 feet from me. We spent about ten minutes there, just staring at each other. It was surreal. 


Why photography? What does the medium mean to you? 

I love photography because so much of it revolves around the moment. I try not to chase pictures, but instead, chase experiences. The best photographs come out of other-worldly experiences and moments, and being a photographer enables you to chase these experiences. 

Do you have a photographic philosophy? 

I have quite a few actually. I love Susan Sontag and the writing she’s done on photographs and how they represent the world around us. A lot of truths can be found in photographs, but a lot of lies can also be found. It’s part of the reason I love photography. Each photograph is a believable constructed reality. Every photograph tells a little about the photographer and the world around them, but also the way in which they want us to see the world around us. You have to be careful with this because representations hold power. But I think it’s pretty neat if you ask me.


What inspires you?

I think the most inspiring thing for me is being out of my comfort zone. Being uncomfortable has always helped me make things. Changes in vantage can be scary, but they can also open your eyes to the way things work.