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Grandpa Smith the Photographer | A Father’s Day post

June 19, 2016

by Evan

Happy father’s day, everyone! As I make my rare appearance on our blog on a day like today it might be safe to assume that I would talk about my experiences as a father, which have somehow managed to replace art as the most important part of my life.  If not that I might at the very least be expected to tell you about my father who’s influences can be seen in my daily life. Actually, I’m going to talk about my grandfather today, my father’s father.

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Norman Smith was a military man and remained that way until the day he died.  As I look back there was never a time that I didn’t revere him as a soldier.  We didn’t have a warm relationship, I’m not sure that anyone aside from my grandmother did. When I visited Grandma and Grandpa’s house it was always Grandma who got the attention from skinny little Evan.  Grandpa was quiet, strict and seemed to be all about business.  The most I ever really knew about my grandfather’s interests was that well into his twilight years he would wake up in the wee hours of the morning to turn on his two-way radio and communicate with people around the world (something that blew my mind before the internet existed). I knew that he fought in World War II and I knew that he raised my father, there was very little else about him that I personally could ever say described Norman Smith.

Last Christmas, my father shared something with Caroline and I that astounded me.  He had found a collection of slides, the negatives to a portfolio of photography work captured by my grandfather. My grandfather was a photographer.  Imagine my surprise to learn that I had this in common with a man who couldn’t have seemed more different than me. Not only did Grandpa have an active interest in photography he was talented and had a significant appreciation for the art.  Suddenly seeing my grandfather as an artist completely changed my view of who he was as a person and I am proud to share his work with you today.

The images you see below were taken during the Korean War. There are two things about these images that stand out as remarkable to me.  The first is that this was not his job; as a high ranking Army officer, my grandfather had more important things to do than document the world around him but it is clear that something drove him as a photographer to capture what was happening. The second is that without any formal training of any kind he is capturing moments that speak to me on a profound level.

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Before this I would have told you without question that my grandfather was the most down to business, straight forward guy of our family and I was by far the most emotional, artistic and unusual in the Smith clan.  Two opposites that would never cross paths had we never had the fortune of being related. Learning that I may actually have more in common with him than most members of my family means a great deal to me. I am so grateful to my grandfather for raising my father who in turned raised me, but I also now appreciate the knowledge that the photographer bug in me came from him- a most unlikely of sources.

And hey, as long as I have access to this epic stash of throwback photography, let’s go ahead and give a shout out to my old man.  Thank you, dad, for your influences both as a father and as a man.  It truly is every day that I make an effort to be a better man and refer to your example to know what to do. Also, I have to say considering the era in which you were married, you didn’t do too bad on the wedding suit. (Photography credit still belongs to Norman Smith)

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  1. Sreejit Poole

    June 20th, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Wow, Evan. This is amazing to see. This is your cousin Sreejit here. I never got to talk to Grandpa. I only saw him once at Uncle Bill’s funeral. It is pretty cool to see this other side of him. And it’s cool that we got the blogging thing in common too.

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