It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of a true visionary, Michael A. Smith, Co-Founder of Arts of Our Time. Michael's passion for making, promoting, and teaching photography remained sincere and strong throughout his more than 50-year career as a leading figure in fine-art photography. As a result, Michael was known internationally as a brilliant photographer and as an extraordinary teacher, theorist, critic, and publisher. No matter which hat he wore at any given time, Michael never tired of giving his time, knowledge, and passion to the visual arts.
Moreover, Michael always dreamed big. His greatest dream (indeed, his ultimate dream) was to continue giving back to the world of photography—a world that had given him so much success, sense of purpose, and simple joy. In particular, Michael wanted to give back by fostering scholarship, organizing exhibitions, and advocating appreciation, not only in photography but also to allied areas of the visual arts.
Before his passing and, most movingly, since then, many people around the world who knew Michael, his work, and his mission have asked what they can do to make the dream come true. If you feel motivated to contribute to that essential effort, please make a donation to Arts of Our Time, the not-for-profit organization that Michael founded in 2003. By contributing, you will enable Paula Chamlee, his wife, partner in the arts, and AOT co-founder, to honor Michael's memory, ensure his legacy, and keep his dream alive for the benefit of future generations of visual artists as well as for the many people who care deeply about the arts.
A memorial service is being planned at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown to celebrate his life and work.
Photographers Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee are husband and wife. Smith has been a photographer since 1966 and has worked exclusively with 8x10-inch or larger cameras since 1967. Chamlee, who is a painter as well as a photographer, has been photographing since 1985, and has used an 8x10-inch camera, almost exclusively, since 1990. Their photographs have been collected in 140 art museums worldwide and they have each published seven books of their photographs.
In addition to making their art, Smith and Chamlee contribute to and enrich the world of fine-art photography in a number of other ways and are committed, perhaps more than any other photographers today, to keeping the traditional craft of photography alive.
In order to save Kodak's silver chloride Azo contact printing paper, Smith and Chamlee became the exclusive dealers of Azo for a number of years. When Kodak discontinued all black and white papers, Smith and Chamlee attempted the nearly impossible task of having a new silver chloride contact printing paper made that would be as good or better than Azo. After five years of R&D, they succeeded. They named it LODIMA PHOTOGRAPHIC PAPER.
They established LODIMA PRESS to publish photography books of extraordinary quality. To date they have published over 50 books, with others currently in production.
While sensing a need to provide other photographers with the finest archival mat board, mounting, and storage materials, Smith and Chamlee acquired a defunct mat board business and formed LODIMA ARCHIVAL MATERIALS.
Their use of large format color film necessitated high-end drum scanning and printing for their color prints, so Smith and Chamlee founded LODIMA DIGITAL to provide drum scanning and digital printing services.
See Lodima.org for all things LODIMA
Photograph of Michael A. Smith by Michel Bonnafous
Photograph of Paula Chamlee by Emily Grimes