A little funny and friends double Smithson’s money for fine art photography

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Pink feather hat. Credit: Aline Smithson.

Aline Smithson, an award-winning photographer and founder of the blog Lenscratch, will publish her first monograph with some help from The Magenta Foundation, a Kickstarter campaign and her friends.

Her book, Self & Others: Portrait as Autobiography, will include more than 100 fine art portraits pulled from 18 bodies of work, produced over a stretch of more than 20 years.

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Cleo with a Mirror. Aline Smithson.

As of Friday, with five days to go, the campaign has raised $57,500, more than double the set goal of $25,000.

Only a handful of publishers are left that do not require the artist to pay for a book to be published, but the book must “fit their aesthetic and have a broad audience,” Smithson said.

“In terms of business, fine art photographers are in an age where the financial responsibility is almost wholly on their backs. Most galleries no longer pay for framing and only will pay partially for shipping—they too are struggling to stay in business,” Smithson said. “Today, the photographer has to not only create significant work, but be apt at social media, marketing and truly navigate their own career…It’s not an easy road.”

Had her crowdfunding campaign failed, Smithson said she would have had to finance the book herself to the tune of $15,000 to $35,000.

Her recommendations for artists who want to crowdfund a project in the future:

1. Start a mailing list early

2. Create a great video that reveals who you are

3. Don’t run a campaign during the holidays when money may be tight for your potential contributors

4. Be active within the community and support other artists campaigns

“I would say that I know 85 percent of the backers — most know some of my projects, but very few are completely aware of all the work that will be in the book,” Smithson told Through the Cracks. “I have spent many years supporting and celebrating other photographers and I am so humbled that they now have supported me.”

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Arrangement in Green and Black #14: Portrait of the Photographer’s Mother as Elvis. Credit: Aline Smithson.

Backers who pledged the highest reward amount of $2,500 will receive a limited edition hand-painted silver gelatin print from her Arrangement Series, which is featured in the book. The subject for this series was her mother.

“She was 83 when I started the series and we worked together on it for two years. She passed away shortly after and would have been thrilled to know that she has been shown all over the world,” said Smithson. “The series is based on James McNeil Whistler’s Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter’s Mother. I wanted to explore his composition and the visual connections between the costume and the painting with humor and whimsy…I think people are hungry for humor.”

Self & Others: Portrait as Autobiography will be published in fall of 2015. To learn more about Smithson, you can visit her well-known industry blog, Lenscratch or visit her website alinesmithson.com.

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Sandra Proudman
Sandra is a writer and photographer based in Northern California. She is a believer in the power of crowdfunding to move projects and people forward.

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