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Stoff Smulson was born, raised and educated in Washington, DC. He graduated from Georgetown
University in 1992 with a bachelor's degree in English. While never formally trained in
photography or art, Stoff has taken full advantage of the great museums and galleries of
Washington since he was a very young man. Along with frequent visits to New York,
experiencing photography and art has become a way of life for him. Stoff currently co-manages Decatur Blue, a critically-acclaimed gallery in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington. He sells
his art, freelances and assists on occasion for professional photographer Fred Maroon.
Stoff uses 35-mm Canon equipment. The ability to move about unhindered is vital for his style. While many of the photos in his portfolio are straightforward, Stoff has been striving to find new ground in photography. His recent Graffiti series included using the full moon as a white paintbrush by whipping the camera about. He exhibited these white-on-black images next to photos of black-on-white street graffiti. Another recent series of work was described by a Washington Post critic as "Jackson Pollock does Developer."
First let me say that I am deeply honored to be exhibiting here at the Cosmos Club. Thank you very much.
When people ask me for advice on photography, the one thing I tell them to attempt is to keep elements in the photo to a minimum. Maybe it's my Scandinavian background...my Mother is Danish. But as you can see in the photos I have on display here, simplicity and efficiency can be very powerful.
Thats not to say that all photos must have minimal elements. Of course not. I have taken many a photo with multiple-elements. But the key is to make sure that all the elements somehow work together. I usually dont get a chance to advise people to this extent because it is my belief that this knowledge of photography takes time, personal training. I am still in training.
Part of my training is experimentation. As Man Ray did so long ago, I believe there is new ground to be chartered. This might be a reaction as well. For I have seen so much good photography. Spending time with Fred and Suzy Maroon, while always enjoyable, can be frustrating because Fred keeps on pulling out new portfolios full of amazing photographs. For a young photographer, it is overwhelming to think that there can be new angles to shoot this amazing world we live on. Fred and others always reassure me that there are new ways to shoot, new subjects. But this doesnt stop me from finding myself in my darkroom splashing chemicals on unexposed paper, then turning the light on for a bit and waiting to see what happens, where we go.
I'm sure I'll settle down someday soon. But in the meantime, I'll continue to explore the unknown.