Blog USA / Kelley Smith


“Girly” is not a fair descriptor for the work of Kelley Smith but unless you examine closely, one could pass her off as another chick-photographer who takes photographs of nothing but her cats, crystals, and friends wandering around the woods. But Kelley’s got style and wit. Her images carry that feminine self-awareness with a salt-shake of irony making you feel like maybe she’s playing a little joke on you. She’s coy, her style almost surrealist.Kelley’s work reads like domestic fairy tales where the imagination is perked with subtle absurd details in what would otherwise be straightforward portraits. Each moment is precise with keen attention to light and framing, the tone swaying between sentimental and sarcastic. Although most of the characters in Kelley’s pictures are faceless, the personality of the work is present and clear making her a quiet yet convincing talent. Here’s the funny little life of Kelley Smith.

First, where did you grow up and how has your home life affected your photography?
My childhood was spent growing up in the heart of Texas – Austin. As a kid I spent a lot of time with my younger sister, we were always making things together. My interest in photography really originated from making videos and home movies with her, which later became us documenting family-related things- vacations, birthdays, holidays, etc.

You’ve got a touch of absurdity in your photographs but they all seem to be in domestic settings. Is this intentional? What kind of theme are you trying to reach in your work?
I think that comes in part from my childhood, the domestic/abstract elements in my work. I intentionally look for the absurd in unexpected or overlooked places, that is what I find interesting. My work really rides on the underlying tensions of photography as a medium; visual relationships, simultaneous subjectivity and objectivity, and it’s ephemeral but perpetual quality.

If you had to live inside one of your photographs forever, which one would it be and why?
I took this on a trip I took to the Oregon coast by myself one afternoon. It was right before I came back to Texas, and it’s just always stuck as an in-between moment and reminded me of that transition, and all the times I’ve travelled and relocated.

Who or what are you influenced by?
The unknown, the forgotten, the mysterious. My sensitivity to my surroundings has also always been something that influences my work.

How did you come to photography and what do you like about it?
I came into it thanks to my family and documenting things throughout my childhood. I like photography as a medium to create visual narrative and for its ability to either transform or document reality.


What’re you working on these days and what would you like to accomplish?
I’m working mostly on my degree and archiving all my found photographs. I’d like to wrap up some projects and start working more on collaborations and publications.

Kelley Smith is a photographer studying at the College of VIsual Arts at University of North Texas.