Gil Smith Studio

Gil Smith is an internationally recognized advertising photographer specializing in high-action automotive and sports-industry images. An innovator in live and simulated-action photography, he has created dramatic campaigns for American, European and Japanese auto manufacturers, including GM, Ford, Daimler Chrysler, Nissan, Jeep, Porsche, Renault, Peugeot and Volvo. He also has helped develop memorable identities for Kawasaki,Yamaha and Honda motorcycles, Bosche and B.F. Goodrich, along with sports-oriented clients such as Pepsi, Oakley and Michelin.

Known for the velocity and unusual angles of his images, Mr. Smith is currently one of Canon U.S.A., Inc. prestigious “Explorers of Light,” a small group of professionals chosen to push the boundaries of existing film, digital and printing techniques. He has won numerous photography and advertising-industry awards, including Beldings, Andys Communication Arts and The One Show, in more than 27 years as a studio and live-action photographer.

While his work suggests immediacy and spontaneity, Mr. Smith’s approach is characterized by thorough research, visual positioning, location scouting, set design, novel equipment rigging and any other necessary tasks. “Great action shots are 90 percent pre-production and 10 percent on-the-spot inspiration,” he says. “You can’t capture the moment unless you, your subject and everything around them is absolutely set to go.” Mr. Smith also places a premium on extensive communication with clients, which he believes is essential on complex projects, and for his ability to accurately estimate costs for, and effectively manage, live-action shoots.

Mr. Smith grew up in both New York and Los Angeles where he and his family launched his career as a child actor. He studied photography at Reseda High School under H. Warren King, a nationally renowned teacher, and subsequently [NOTE: received a merit scholarship from Eastman Kodak and Professional Photographers of America] at the highly regarded Rochester Institute of Technology. Mr. Smith then assisted several noted advertising professionals, including James B. Wood, Reid Miles and David Langley.

He launched his own operation in 1980, transforming a onetime Yellow Cab garage in Los Angeles into a fully-equipped automotive studio. Mr. Smith’s initial projects included national multi-media presentations for Chrysler, the launches of New Coke and Diet Coke for Coca-Cola, and a portrait of a then little-known economist, Alan Greenspan, for Apple Computer. Other subsequent clients have ranged from John Deere tractors to Giro helmets.

In recognition of the help he received from established professionals early on, Mr. Smith co-founded the Advertising Photographers of America in 1981 to strengthen ties between photographers, help standardize business practices and improve relationships with corporate clients. He was a member of the APA National Board of Directors and is considered a generous mentor to colleagues and aspiring professionals. Mr. Smith resides in West Los Angeles with his family and a small dog unlikely to outrun the average recreational bicyclist.

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