We certainly think that ONA bags look just as good in person as they do on the screen (if not better!), but we can’t deny the role of the fantastic photographers and videographers who make each ONA look its absolute best. Jordan Smith is one such videographer: he created the Camps Bay video that always makes us wish that we were riding on a bike, stopping for a coffee, heading out for a day of shooting in fresh air and sunshine. While Jordan definitely has an eye for product styling and creating lifestyle envy–necessary for any good advertising imagery–he also captures everything from documentaries to music videos, from rollerbladers to weddings. Multi-talented, to be sure.
Jordan wears the Camps Bay Backpack in Field Tan.
ONA: How did you get into photography/ videography?
JS: A skate park opened up in my town when I was 11 and I instantly got hooked on rollerblading. A year later I saved up and bought my first camera to film my friends and me skating. It was a terrible Sony High 8 camera but a big deal for me back then. My friends and I put together a few gems with quality you might expect from teenagers. I was introverted and overwhelmingly shy back then, so creating videos was a cathartic gift of self expression.
In high school I was fortunate to take some really great video, animation, and photography classes. In those classes I got hands-on experience with equipment and software. It largely equipped me for what I do professionally today. The photography class I took was very eye opening to me and changed the way I viewed visual communication. It was a film photography class, which allowed me to really get familiar with the ins and outs of a camera. Manual photography was a very romantic process to me and pivotal to the development of what I do now. I was shooting with my father’s and grandfather’s old cameras. My grandfather passed away when I was younger, so using his camera was a chance for me to connect with him in a very small but very special way.
Film photography allowed me to slow down and contemplate exactly what I was shooting. For the first time I was able to control depth of field, shutter speed and exposure in a very physical way. At the same time I was still shooting video. I can remember being disappointed by my limitations with digital video cameras. Looking through the lens of my Pentax k1000, I thought to myself: “Wow, if only I could shoot video through a camera like this.”
ONA: What camera do you shoot with? What is your “go to” lens of choice?
JS: For both photography and video I shoot with a Canon 5D mkIII. My lens of choice is a 35mm 1.4L.
JS: Creatively, I am inspired by projects that progressively and uniquely express the human condition. I believe everyone is constantly in pursuit of purpose, love, belonging, hope, and joy. The moment we lose sight of what gives us purpose in life is the moment we become depressed, insecure, or wicked. So my hope is to create work that edifies the people who watch it. Every video is different and not every one of them has to be profound, but I do believe each video I make deserves a certain respect for quality.
That said, I see my dream project as something that expresses the fruit of the Holy Spirit in me. Ultimately Jesus Christ fulfills all areas of purpose in life, and I want that to be reflected in my work. So the opportunities of dream projects are endless. I would really enjoy making a project about rollerblading, or maybe something else that strikes my interest. Ultimately what I want is for my work to reflect a man of substance.
ONA: What is the hardest thing about being a photographer/videographer?
JS: The hardest part is remaining humble while maintaining an appropriate level of joy and dissatisfaction, to continue every day with diligence. Not expecting success as a means to an end, but finding success in your struggle for it.
JS: Maybe it’s an overlap of documentary and cinematic. I try to let my work speak for itself so I don’t have to. Mostly because I over think questions like this and just start to ramble. My work is the product of my environment. I am just along for the ride.
JS: Stay humble, work hard, do what you know, and go from there.
JS: I found ONA online when it was relatively new. The bags ONA produces are of such great quality and style that I knew immediately I wanted to be involved with the brand. I got in contact with ONA to make videos of their line and have made two videos featuring their bags. I use the Camps Bay backpack and the Leather Brixton now and they have been a perfect fit for my work and travels.