Jacob Smithers was born in the Seattle area and unleashed his creativity in as many ways as he could as a child. His first exposure to photography was in high school, where he stayed after class working in the dark room as often as possible. It was on a school trip to New York that Jacob became enamored with contemporary forms of art and the exploration that photography allowed him.
For his four years as an Environmental Studies undergraduate at Seattle University, he worked for SU Publications under photographer Anil Kapahi. In 2004, when Jacob started at SU, there was no Photography Club, but it wasn’t long before there was and he was its President. Jacob studied under Photographic Center Northwest & Seattle University’s Claire Garoutte, finding a harmony between two passions of his: the non-profit sector and documentary photography. Claire and Jacob also worked to establish stronger ties between Seattle University and the local non-profit organizations of Seattle. In 2007, Jacob worked with Tram Chim National Park in Vietnam, conducting a study of national parks and visual communications in relation to environmental and social issues. When Jacob returned to the States he would become a finalist for a Fulbright Scholarship to continue this work. He has since traveled extensively through volunteer exchange programs at various international non-profits. While in the States he continues to work with several non-profit organizations, harmonizing his love for photography and community.
Jacob’s work turned has turned heads at the Seattle University art show, in CEO magazine, several University publications & brochures, publications & pamphlets for the Arboretum Foundation, and many businesses websites. Jacob works for public and private clients on various projects, and also does his fair share of portrait work & event photography. His artwork is currently beautifying the walls of many personal & professional settings in the Northwest.
It’s interesting how as people we change so much as the years go by, but deep down we retain a strong sense of self and that core of who we are tends to stay the same. This is evident in the subjects I choose to photograph -- from the first roll of film I ever shot to my most recent. I’m drawn to our natural surroundings and how time causes change to all things. A photograph is a moment in time, but a photograph can also express a myriad of events within that glimpse.
When I first began framing photographs in conventional frames, I felt they detracted from the photographs rather than complimenting them. I recognized this imperfection in my process and longed for a solution. One day as I was walking down the street I noticed a pile of junk. In the pile there was an old cooler window, the kind bartenders pulled sodas out of in the 50’s, and I thought to myself, “I bet I could frame a photo in there”. I loved the idea of reusing old building materials and finding beauty in things that were otherwise overlooked. I always felt like while I had control of the photographs I composed, there was always an element of unknown, a lack of control, in the beauty I discovered. Continuing this process in which I both harness and relinquish control, finding the perfect frame to complete my pieces was the final step to my work. As the years have gone by I couldn’t imagine framing my photographs in anything other than original antique frames. At times the frames need slight repairs and refurbishing, but it’s my preference to keep them as original as possible.