Joe Smith b. 1959
photography is not just a recording medium and his exhibition of abstract photographs in 1995 is ample evidence that his artistic endeavours do not bind him down to one avenue of expression.
Joseph P. Smith is a photographer and artist absorbed in an artistic quest that comprises photography and the visual arts. Joe, as he is more popularly known, studied art and design in Malta and Florence, Italy where he was awarded scholarship in 1983.
He has been in photography since 1979. He is a member of the Malta Photographic Society of which he won the coveted Photographer of the Year Award in 1995 and also a Fellow of the Malta Institute of Professional Photographers. He is often called upon by both organisations to judge competitions and give lectures. In 1995 he was made Associate of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain and later Artist of the International Federation of Photographic Art. In 2001 he was the first and only Maltese photographer to achieve Fellowship status of the Malta Institute of Professional Photographers. In November of the same year he was also made Associate of the Master Photographers Association of the UK.
Joe has also been responsible for the design of various logos of established companies, brochures, packaging, CD sleeves and postage stamps.
Joe has a strong preference for monochrome photography especially that depicting the performing arts and his name has become synonymous with evocative pictures of Jazz musicians who performed in the Malta Jazz Festival. Joe has been the official photographer since the first edition in 1991. Many of his Jazz pictures can be found on the websites of renowned musicians who played in the Festival.
Having been an avid darkroom worker, he has explored many ways to reproduce monochrome effects digitally with some great results. For Joe, photography is not just a recording medium and his exhibition of abstract photographs in 1995 is ample evidence that his artistic endeavours do not bind him down to one avenue of expression.
In October 2002 he was awarded the prestigious Overseas Master Photographer Award of the Master Photographers Association of the UK in the Fashion/Illustrative category. In 2003 he received no less than three Awards of Excellence in the same Awards and in April 2004 he received the highest accolade in photography when he was successful in attaining Fellowship status of the MPA. This he did with a panel of twenty monochrome pictures depicting jazz musicians who played in Malta since the inception of the Malta Jazz festival. In the first ever British Professional Photography Awards in October 2004, Joe also carried away the Overseas Press and PR Category with one of his jazz pictures. During 2004 he also achieved Fellowship status of the British Institute of Professional Photography. In 2005 he was once more the recipient of Overseas Pictorial and Illustrative Photographer of the Year category at the same awards and was also finalist in the Fashion category and the Press and PR category. Later in the year Joe joined the SWPP and he was made Fellow of the Association in 2007. Joe has garnered quite a good number of awards during the annual SWPP Convention and he has since been a regular lecturer and competition judge during their annual conventions.
2008 was a great year for Joe as he once again put Malta’s name on the map when he won the overall first prize out of 2,500 European photographers in the photo contest organised by the European Union to commemorate the Year of Intercultural Dialogue. The theme of the contest was “Cultures on My Street”.
Joe has lectured, judged and exhibited extensively locally and abroad and has had work published in various publications. In 2009 he published his first book called “Survivors” which is a photo documentary on the ageing population of Birgu, a medieval walled town in Malta. The publication has received great reviews and a sequel is in the making.
In November 2010 Joe took part in the Jinan Photo Biennial in China following an invitation by the Chinese Ministry of Culture through the China Cultural Institute in Malta. He was also commissioned to produce all the photography for the Bank of Valletta 2011 - 2018 Calendars.
In 2012 and 2013 Joe was invited to be part of the international judging panel of the inaugural prestigious photo contest HIPA, an initiative of HRH the Crown Prince of Dubai, and also to deliver lectures to Emirati photographers.
In 2014 and 2015 he achieved an important milestone in his career when two of his portraits were shortlisted for exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London as part of the prestigious Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize.
In 2015 Joe was successful in attaining his Masters of Fine Arts – Digital Arts from the University of Malta. In the same year he was once again invited by the Chinese Cultural Centre in Malta to take part in the Beijing Photo Festival and to photograph in different Chinese regions for a tourism initiative.
In 2017 he was invited to exhibit in Brussels and China as part of the external cultural programme for Malta’s EU Presidency.