For a professional photographer who has made a career of portraits featuring Santa Claus, the PPA Southwest District winner in the artist category, titled “Urban Assault,” was a huge departure for Chris Smith, M.Photog.
Smith captured the Sunset Print Award-winning image during a SWAT team training session in Midlothian, Texas, when he was requested to shoot the training. It turned out to be an ideal opportunity to get creative for print competition.
“Competition work is something that I do for myself because it is so detailed,” Smith says. “It is very therapeutic digging into that level of detail.”
Capturing the men in action, Smith shot the image in daylight and digitally edited it to create the nighttime scene. The original photo was taken in a parking lot with a church in the background, but Smith reworked the background to create a more compelling story. A large print of his image is currently displayed in the police station.
When he’s not capturing kids and the big, jolly guy, Smith says he enjoys photographing law enforcement because “most people do not realize what they go through.” The work he does is multi-subject and multi-level, which keeps the viewer’s eye moving around the image.
Smith began his career in photography as a newspaper sports editor. He enjoyed capturing the stop action when photographing high school sports, but took a break to work as an e-commerce manager. He picked the camera back up when he had children.
In his studio, he enjoys photographing kids with Santa Claus because, “you never know what you’re going to get, and every kid’s story is different,” he says.
The competition entry of “Urban Assault” was printed on a Hahnemuhle fine art glossy baryta paper using a Canon printer. Smith enjoys entering print competitions because it is humbling.
“It takes guts for someone to enter and have their work judged,” he says. “You almost forget how much time you put into a work of art if it goes well.”