Charles Smith: Capturing history one frame at a time

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JANS – Photographer extraordinaire Charles Smith is synonymous with Jackson State University. If there’s an event on or off campus, most likely Smith will be in the room, or on the field with camera in hand to capture the highlights, or unassuming moments he will make magical, if not historic. Case in point, a J-Sette he captured in flight made the final cut for a JSU/Getty Images exhibition held during homecoming 2023.

In describing himself, Smith writes: I am a photographer living, learning, and loving in the deep south… I’m an editorial photographer who loves pasta, interesting faces, and big funny personalities. I’ve shot for a lot of publications, news outlets, and some corporate clients. I share my life with a wonderful woman named “Becky” and a cool and funny little dog named “Bentley Chamberlain, ESQ – a dog of international mystery”. 

Smith also creates stunning portraits as a model photographer. Other than encouraging his subjects to enjoy the experience, he may not say much during a photo shoot. But once he puts his camera down, he might just be ready to share his intellectual disposition in an occasional blog. A few years back, Smith wrote an intriguing piece on poet Langston Hughes that warrants reprinting here. It’s entitled “Theme for English C”:

Langston Hughes wrote a poem entitled, “Theme for English B”. In this beautiful work of art, Hughes speaks of an assignment that he is given by his professor at Columbia University. He must write a one page essay on himself and it must be true. From his point of view, the assignment is more complicated than you would think because he is a young Black man from a southern atlantic state going to school near Harlem. He compares himself to his professor and how far they are in their place in life. He is Black, his professor is white but he concludes that their differences may not be as different as you would/could assume. He says he hears New York. He likes to eat, drink, sleep, be in love, work, read, learn, and “understand life.” He goes on to say just because he is “colored” does not mean he does not like the same things that people of other races like. Hughes later ends his poem by stating that he is Black and his professor white. They are still a part of each other and that is clearly an American phenomenon and sometimes they both resist that sameness but regardless neither can escape it. He further states that it is room for both to learn from one another and he ends with… “This is my page from English B”.

I said this to say… I am Black, deeply southern and no matter where you live, be it a few states over or across the wide seas, I am you, you are me, and this is my first post for “English C”.

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Charles Smith: Capturing history one frame at a time

By Jackson Advocate News Service
February 26, 2024