Gilmar Smith: 'Photography Just Happened to Me'

With Gilmar Smith

This week’s Feature Friday is the very talented Orlando-based photographer Gilmar Smith! We were beyond happy to put a spotlight on Gilmar’s work, because she is one of our favorite photographers all around. We commissioned her to do our Platypod Holiday shoot and were so grateful for her creativity. Our Platypod holiday images are spectacular and so much fun!

We had fun getting to know Gilmar a little more, and hope you enjoy getting to knew her, too!

How did you get into photography?

Photography just happened to me. I never planned on becoming a photographer. In fact, I have never bought a camera for myself. The camera I use was bought by my ex-husband and he never really used it. One time, out of boredom, I picked it up and started learning how to use it and fell in love with it. Then, I wanted to take my pictures to the next level and that is when things got crazy, and I got utterly obsessed and addicted to Photoshop.

I then started experimenting with different photography genres. My first cool photography job was with a Motorsports team but after working in Motorsports for a bit, I realized that what I really enjoyed doing was photographing people.

What was your favorite photo this year and why? (Yes -- please choose just one!)

Wow! Just one? This was so hard to do.

  Pictured: Kirk Marsh; Credit: Gilmar Smith

Pictured: Kirk Marsh; Credit: Gilmar Smith

I love this picture because it was a blast to take. I've had this collection of rotary phones forever, and finally on that day I decided to use them. My friend on the picture, Kirk Marsh, is a performer. We tried a few fun things with the phones but then we came up with the idea of walking them as dogs and I found it hilarious. His expression is ridiculously funny. The whole silliness of the image makes me smile every time.

What is your typical gear set-up?

This is what is always ready and packed for me to take to a studio or to location:

  • Think Tank Airport International V2.

  • Canon 5D Mark II (it is the only camera I've ever had, and I still use)

  • Canon 24-105 mm lens

  • Canon 70-200 2.8 lens

  • Canon 16-35 mm 2.8 lens

  • Canon 100mm 2.8 lens

  • Miops remote (this is a new addition to my kit, and it's pretty sweet)

  • 3 Legged Thing tripod (Leo) with airhead switch and QR 11LC Universal L-plate

  • Tether tools Pro Tethering kit.

  • My Oldie Moldy MacBook Pro

  • Elinchrom BRX and modifiers

  • And of course my Platypod Ultra and accessories.

Yes, that sounds like a lot, but that's what I need to work in the studio. Now, when I'm shooting for fun or for myself, I try to limit the amount of gear I carry. I've found that limited resources spark creativity. Challenging yourself to use just one piece of gear is a great exercise to get those creative juices flowing and for finding new approaches to photography.

In those cases, I only carry my camera, one lens, and my Platypod Ultra.

What were some of your biggest photography challenges this year?

My computer died at the end of March this year and I completely freaked out. I'm a single mom of two, and I'm finally recovering from the emotional and financial hardship after losing my partner two years ago. I haven't been able to upgrade my gear because I've been building my life and my business from scratch.

Besides doing photography, I write content for magazines and websites, so I don't only use my computer to store and punish pixels in Photoshop, I also use it for writing. The whole situation was very inconvenient.

How did you overcome them?

I took my computer to the Apple store, and they told me what was wrong with it — the parts they needed to replace and the huge amount I needed to pay for labor. I couldn't spend that much money, so I came back home, purchased the parts I needed to replace online, did a google search, found a few tutorials on YouTube and replaced the parts and got my computer back running all by myself! Remember how I said a few lines above that limited resources spark creativity? That’s me being creative at problem solving.

When did you start using Platypod and what has your experience been?

I started using my Platypod at the end of May this year, and it's been amazing! I love finding different creative ways to use it. It's amazing how a little tiny plate can be such a game changer in the photography industry.

Favorite takeaway from your photography journey this year?

Embrace who you are as an artist and as a human being. Be true to who you are, what you like, what you enjoy, and the art you make, and everything else will fall into place. I learned to make peace with my "now" by accepting the moment and making the best out of everything — the good, the bad and the ugly — without losing focus on where I am going.

This year has been great to me. I fell in love with the process of growing as an artist and as a businesswoman. Through my stumbles and mistakes, it has definitely been a year filled with happy tears! I'm so thankful for everybody that has been part of it, including my Platypod and KelbyOne family that have been incredibly supportive.

Where would you LOVE to be in five years?

I have so many plans! I want to keep pursuing teaching and public speaking but, I really want to do more commercial photography work, and I also have plans for a book. But, I honestly think I can do all that in less than five years so, I have to upgrade my goals.

Currently working on any cool projects that you'd like to share with us?

I'm teaching a workshop about Storytelling and Photoshop compositing On Feb. 23-24 in Orlando, Fl with Clinton Lofthouse, an amazing photographer from England. Then we are going on road trip all along the east coast to do a couple of photography projects. I will keep you all updated about that.

I'm also teaching a workshop in the UK at the end of March, and I'm scheduling a few other speaking engagements here in the states and overseas. (Still pinching myself!)

Feel free to add anything at all!

If you find yourself with a little extra time, I would love to hear from you. Tell me what would you like to see from me in 2019!

Gilmar Smith is an Orlando-based photographer, content creator, Photoshop addict & social media junkie! Visit her at  gilmarphotography.com and be sure to follow her on Instagram

Ajna Adams