Vincent Lee Smith, a native of East Orange, N.J., has lived in the Washington, D.C. area for 20 years. He has been photographing seriously for 6 years. He is self taught and is currently working on 4 self assigned photography projects: African Women in America, Street, Perfect: Urban Nudes and PPL of Color, 3 of which can be found on his website www.vlsphoto.com . He has been published in the Washington City Paper, SHOTS magazine, Global Woman magazine and B&W magazine. He has exhibited at International Visions and Touchstone galleries in D.C. and The Gallery Art & Design in Richmond, VA.
Having lived East of the River in Northeast Washington, D.C. for over ten years has affected my life and thereby my photography in both positive and negative ways.
The area in which I live is predominantly Black, under-employed, formally under-educated, youthful, stressed, anemic, hopeful, and adaptable. And that is pretty much the way my life there and my photography have developed. I react to the environment however as still an outsider. I identify with the people in my neighborhood only as folks who live by me, not people who live like me. I see myself as both a part of and apart. This dichotomy has led me to photograph the streets of my ‘hood with relative ease – I walk like I belong there – however, I also have an awareness of being discrete when photographing, not bringing much attention to myself or to my camera.
The East of the River community gets very little positive play in any media, and that’s a shame, it should be touted as a place of great opportunity, energy, and untapped human capital. That is why I love photographing there and continue to seek to get photographs I take there published and exhibited: to shine light…