Phil Smrek

Storyteller & Photographer

Bio

Ohio postcard

If we met in person, one of the first things you would learn about me is that I'm proud of my Ohio roots; a heart-shaped state in the heartland of the USA, Ohio is full of genuinely nice people and is home to some very talented folks.

Lebron James, Neil Armstrong, Paul Newman, Phyllis Diller, WNYC/NPR’s Amy Eddings and Dave Grohl all hail from the Buckeye State, not to mention eight US presidents! Fashion designer Nanette Lapore, boxer Ray “Boom-Boom” Mancini and ‘Modern Family's’ Ed O'Neil are from Youngstown, where I was born.

I came to NYC in the mid-‘80's to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology and soon landed a job at Andy Warhol’s seminal 'Factory,' as an assistant at Interview Magazine. It was a veritable pop culture boot camp with Andy as platoon leader!

I was 21 naïve and at the epicenter of ‘80's hipdom. A steady cadre of luminaries stopped by the Factory regularly; Jean Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Debbie Harry, David LaChapelle, Matt Dillon, Halston, Duran Duran and Jerry Hall.

I often assisted Interview’s photographers at shoots and, in those pre-Photoshop days, would hand-deliver and retrieve photographic prints from the air-brusher! While in transit on the subway, I would study the ‘before and after’ versions of the work, subconsciously training my eye for composition and lighting. I also got to hang out with the writers and staff editors, closely observing how they honed and practiced their craft.

As you can imagine, this was an enlightening and magical start to my career.

Along the way I pursued acting and, as Andy Warhol himself predicted, had my 15 minutes of fame. I starred in a Lou Gramm (Foreigner) music video, which reached #3 on the top 40, along with a couple a national commercials and a straight to video “B" movie!

When I was hired by Levi's to photo-video-graph retail stores across the USA, I realized photography was my true calling. I went on to work for Nike, Disney, PAPER Magazine and the footwear company Camper, in a variety of capacities. The common thread, however, was that I usually had a camera in one hand and a pen in the other.

All of which brings us here.

This website is a place to share with you my passion, my work and creative endeavors in photography and the written word. I appreciate and value your interest. Please give a holler and—if anything—consider Ohio for your next vacation!