Recently I got to speak to Gilmar Smith. I have been following Gilmar’s work online for a while now and I love it. I wanted to share with you all the creativity and imagination she brings to her images. Gilmar describes herself as a self-taught photographer, Photoshop addict and a social media junkie specializing in Creative Portraiture and composites, based in Orlando, Florida.
She is a single mother of two amazing kids who are her major source of inspiration.
DIYP: Tell us a little about how you got into photography.
GS: I never really intended to become a photographer. It’s something that just happened. My ex-husband bought a camera, and it was collecting dust in one closet. One day I picked it up and started playing and fell in love with it. I got obsessed with Photography and Photoshop quickly. I needed an outlet back then. I was going through a lot of personal challenges and, Photography, more than a hobby became my favorite method of self-care.
I went all in and bought strobes, light modifiers and everything I could need or want at the time and set up a home studio in one of the garages at home. I got a few paid gigs here and there, I even shot for a Motorsport team for a while, but it wasn’t until last year that Photography became my main source of income.
DIYP: A large portion of your images are creative self-portraits, how long does it take to create an image from start to finish on a shoot and where do you get your ideas from?
GS: Well, it depends. Self-Portraiture besides of being a great way of expression, and one of my favorite things to do in my free time, is a great tool to learn and improve photography and post-processing skills. Sometimes, I have to make the props, or I spend several hours gluing stuff on my face, or even cooking what I’m going to wear.
If I’m using a new lighting technique, the setup takes a little longer until I get things right. But I’ll say it takes me around 3 to 4 hours from start to finish for a self-portrait. (if I don’ have to glue beads to my face) As for my ideas, inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes it comes from the verse of a song, or my silly sense of humor, my love for food, my everyday life or my broken heart. I have a list on my phone of different ideas I get during the day.
Sadly most of my brilliant ideas come to me when I’m showering or when I’m driving my kid to school, there, I’m not able to write them down on my phone, and some get lost in limbo.Another way to challenge inspiration for a shoot is to think of a word or a thing. Then imagine many ways you could use that particular word or thing on a picture in a creative way. Practice that every day, it will help you see the world more creatively. You also create amazing kids photography tell us more about that side of your work.
DIYP: You also create amazing kids photography tell us more about that side of your work.
GS: I love working with children! Kids know what they want, and they are not afraid to say it. There’s nothing more fun than planning a photoshoot with a kid. It’s so funny the things they come up with.
I usually sketch a concept with them and ask lots of questions about the things they are into and what they would like the final image to be like. Then in the shoot is all about having fun. They pretty much know what to do because we already went through all the planning together, so no fuzz at all! I got into kid’s Photography a couple of years ago thanks to my son. He was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism when he was about 3 1/2 years old. He didn’t like to have his picture taken. But, then, I noticed he didn’t mind me taking his picture when it was done in his terms. (With a costume he liked, next to a roller coaster, with a toy, etc.)
So, I used that as a way to get into his world. Little by little we started planning photoshoots together, he would tell me what he wanted to wear and how he was going to pose, soon after he also took over the post-processing part and started telling me what elements to add to the picture and where. Those pictures became family projects. Since then I’ve been applying the techniques, I learned with my son when working with other kids.
DIYP: How important is Photoshop in your workflow? Does your work rely on it or could you still create your images without it?
GS: Photoshop is life. I enjoy photography and playing with light, but for me, editing in Photoshop is where the magic is.
Yes, I could make certain images without using Photoshop but my style pretty much relies on it. I won’t say I would stop creating if I wasn’t able to use Photoshop but I would certainly challenge my creativity to create something out of the ordinary using what I have available.
DIYP: What are your influences and who in the photography world inspires you?
GS: I spent almost every summer at grandmas. Clay sculpting, sewing, and painting were my everyday activities while there. That helped me develop my artistic side and my love for art at an early age.
I spend lots of time looking at other artist’s work. I love to analyze their images and try to figure out their technique. When it comes to kid’s photography Bill Gekas, John Willem and Adrian Sommeling are an influence in my work. Then Photographers like Jeremy Cowart, Miss Aniela, Glyn Dewis, Rosie Hardy, Mark Rodriguez, Lindsay Adler are a big source of inspiration to me. I truly adore their photography, lighting, and post-processing technique.
DIYP: Most of your images have multiple composited elements, on average how long does an image take to edit an image in photoshop?
GS: About 5 to 6 hours, a bag of Cheetos, a few coffees, a couple of cookies, and some wine if the kids are asleep. It’s tough to put a time on it since there are images that are more complicated than others.It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing this; there are going to be some pictures that are going to require more of your time and patience and are going to make you reconsider every decision you’ve made in life. Then there are some others when everything just flows smoothly, and you feel like a Photoshop rockstar. But with every image I create I learn something new, and I enjoy the process of creating no matter how challenging it can become sometimes.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing this; there are going to be some pictures that are going to require more of your time and patience and are going to make you reconsider every decision you’ve made in life. Then there are some others when everything just flows smoothly, and you feel like a Photoshop rockstar. But with every image I create I learn something new, and I enjoy the process of creating no matter how challenging it can become sometimes.
DIYP: With the rise of Photoshop, and most people these days having access to it, do you think it is harder to stand out from the crowd?
GS: Nowadays is not just about having access to Photoshop or knowing how to use the software what is going to make anybody stand out. There are plenty of people with mad talent out there, but it takes way more than that. We live in a time when showing your work is not enough. In this creative world, you can’t just be an artist; you have to be a marketer, a social media specialist, a manager, an accountant, a writer, and editor and hustle nonstop. That’s what is going make you stand out.
DIYP: What would be your best piece of advice to people just starting to use Photoshop for the first time?
GS: Learn the basis and then play around. Play with those sliders. Be curious. Experiment. Youtube is your best friend. Selective color pictures suck, don’t do it!
DIYP: Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years time
GS: I see myself sitting on a balcony in Santorini, looking at the caldera while sipping Vin Santo. Photography, Public Speaking, Teaching, and Writing are things I’m very passionate about, and I’ve been working hard on polishing those skills in the past year. (no, I’m not planning on losing my accent). Hopefully, in 10 years I’ll be in Santorini celebrating my accomplishments with my little ones, who won’t be that little then.