2018: My year in review.

2018: My year in review.

2018 was a very transformative year for me. It was a year of opportunities, new business endeavors, I found new passions, went after a few new dreams, let go of fear, made lots of new friends, lost and found myself a few times, grew my photography business, wrote lots of articles, shot lots of pictures and many, many pixels were punished in Photoshop.

The two previous years I spent on survivor mode, working to make ends meets to support my kids while fighting my own demons and grief. Those two years took a toll on my physical and mental health. I never gave myself a break and that landed me in a hospital back at the beginning of May. One of the biggest surprises of 2018 was that I had to train my brain to process joy again and thankfully, this year,  I had plenty of opportunities to practice joy.

At the end of March, I received a call from Erik Kuna, the Vice President of Operations at KelbyOne, inviting me to join them on a project. The project was designing a Photo Bay for the Expo Floor at Photoshop World. If you’re not familiar with Photoshop world, it is a three days Photography, Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom Conference held once or even sometimes twice a year. Not only did I agree on designing the Photo Bay but I also joined my friend Kathy Porupski on the logistics team, and we ran like headless chickens finding all the models, hair and makeup artists, props, flowers, Vikings, you name it! for the whole conference. It was a busy, but gratifying experience.

Funny fact, Dave Williams, Peter Treadway, Mark Rodriguez and I made a pact over coffee just the year before at Photoshop World, saying we would be back at the conference the next year, but that time would be either teaching or running a project. I’m so glad Dave took this picture as we made that pact. We did it, one way or the other, we all had our own thing going at PhotoshopWorld this year.

With Photoshop World came lots of others opportunities. I promised myself that in 2018 I was going to become an alchemist and I was going to turn every opportunity into gold.
I was determined on making my Photobay something epic. I went back to a prop warehouse I was in years ago before I moved to North Carolina to look for possible things to use on my project. I fell in love with every corner of that place, and I fell in love with a 50’s gas station they had in there. Of course, it was totally out of my budget, but I came back home and couldn’t get it out of my mind. Determined to get it, I went back the next day with a business proposal for the owners. I just said to myself, worst-case scenario they say no, and I will have to settle with something less epic. But, they agreed to my proposal, and not only I was able to have that 50’s gas station as my Photobay at Photoshop World, but we now have a business partnership, and if you follow me on social media, you may be familiar with that place, because you may have seen it a few times on my insta stories. Please go ahead and give my friends of Spectacular Themes a follow.


(Tatiana Sidorova and Kirk Marsh)

Photoshop World was the event that transformed my year into a magical one. I have been going to Photoshop World for years. It’s always a great experience shared with many amazingly creative people that over the years have become my closest friends.

(Douglas Young, Matt Divine, Mark Rodriguez, Tatiana Sidorova, Kaylee Greer and Kirk Marsh)

While I was there, I was approached by Platypod, and now I’m proudly one of Platypod’s ambassadors. I feel incredibly lucky to work with such an amazing company full of people with huge hearts that I now call family.

I came back home from the conference proud, happy and thankful for the amazing time, but I had no idea that was just the beginning of many amazing things to come.
After that, I was a guest on The Grid three times this year.

I was also invited as a guest on many other Podcasts.

This Week in Photo: Personal Growth with PhotographyCan Nudity be Fine ArtClowning around in Photoshop.

Picturings Success with Rick Sammon and Larry Becker. Gilmar Smith- Creative Photographer and Retoucher spends time with Rick

Behind the Shot with Steve Brazill. Next Level Digital Artistry

I wrote many articles and reviews for Photoshop User Magazine, now I have my own column called “Shortcut City” and I was asked for the second year in a row to be part of the annual 100 Photoshop tips and Tricks edition of Photoshop User Magazine.
On one of my long nights retouching and writing articles I came up with an idea, I couldn’t ignore. I wrote down every detail about it trying to figure out a way how I could make it happen. And as proof the Universe work on magical ways, I received a text message the next day in the morning from my friend, Kalebra Kelby. I saw that as a sign and went ahead and told her a little about my crazy idea which she replied, “I think you’re onto something here.” A couple of weeks after I was at KelbyOne, in an office pitching my idea to Scott and Kalebra Kelby. I had absolutely no expectations; I was just happy to be there talking about my ideas. To my surprise that one meeting was turned into lunch, and then into another meeting, this time with the production team, planning on how and when we were going to make my idea happen. I was in awe, and I will forever be thankful for Kalebra and Scott for the opportunities, the support, and trust they have put in me.
That idea was a Photography Competition Show called “Cropped,” We already shot the pilot, and it will hopefully be released soon. That’s my baby, a dream I didn’t know I had that showed up in the middle of the night and that I’m so excited to share with you.


I’m thankful for the fantastic production team at KelbyOne that made that dream come true. Juan Alfonso, Jason Stevens, Christina Sauer, and Steve Nicolai (love you guys!). And to our first two contestants Sam Haddix and Gerson Lopez who did an excellent job and made our first episode a super fun one!
The year kept rolling and I kept working and I also got to do a few other amazing things. I wrote a Guest Blog post on Scott Kelby’s blog, was featured on Tether Tools website, Layer Magazine, The Photography and Photoshop Newsletter, and many other websites.
I also became a brand ambassador for 3 Legged things, BlackRapid and Spiffy Gear. Those are Brands I have been used for quite a while, and I’m incredibly proud to represent.
In October KelbyOne gave me the opportunity to go to New York City for Photo Plus Expo. That was another fantastic networking experience, I got to spend a few days with lots of creative and inspiring people. Had a fantastic conversation with Scott Bourne, dinner with my Platypod family, dinner with Rick Sammon and a bunch of other creatives including my bestie Jen Coffin. I finally got to sit down and talk with Danny Lenihan from 3 Legged things who invited me back in June to be part of his Pro Team and who has been incredibly supportive. I still have to pinch myself every time I see my name among all those super rockstars on the company’s page.

This year I created lots of artwork that I’m very proud of . From collaborating with Kirk Marsh in a couple of shoots that became some of my favorite of the year.

To shooting the Promo pictures for a comedy tour of a comedian I used to watch on TV  back at home in Venezuela, Charly Mata.

I also shot the promotion images for Mrs. Moldova, Tatiana Sidorova

I got to do what I’m the most passionate about, which is doing conceptual portraits of kids.

I shot Platypod’s Holiday Campaign

I shot lots of Christmas cards

My years in grief taught me that life is short and unpredictable. Grief took me into very dark places I didn’t know they existed. Grief took everything I thought I had including fear, but it also showed me perspective. In grief, I woke up many mornings wishing I didn’t, and in my struggle to find  joy again, I made the commitment with myself to only do the things I love doing, only spend time with those who I feel good around, to spread joy,  to live to the fullest and to teach my kids many valuable life lessons they don’t learn at school. I promised myself to never try to prove my value to anyone because if they didn’t see it at first, trying to prove it would only waste my time.

But at the end, it was really the people and the friendships what meant the most to me this year. There are a lot of things that go behind everything I do. I’m a one girl show. From raising and supporting my kids, to running my business. I’m lucky to have the support from my mom who flew twice from Venezuela to stay with my kids while I went to dedicate myself to build up my business. To my aunt who flew from Philadelphia to stay with my kids while I went to New York for PhotoPlus Expo. They do understand how important it is for me to leave my kids with family, and they get that sometimes I’m a little bit of a control overprotective freak when it comes to my kids. I wouldn’t leave my kids with anybody else and I’m blessed to have you both in my life to support me and encourage me to go after my dreams.

Kalebra Kelby, Scott Kelby, Jen Coffin, Ajna Adams, Danny Lenihan, Larry Tiefenbrunn, Noah Christensen, Chris Main,Patrick Difruscia,  Rick Sammons, Simon Pollock, Udi Tirosh, LaRae Lobdell, Kim Doty, Clinton Lofthouse, Randy and Jack Zweifel, Valeria Angelino, Maru Potolicchio, Megan Mackenzie, Roberto Pisco, Frederick Van Johnson, are some of the people that have supported me and who have in a way my year a fantastic one. My two brothers who are miles and miles away but who I always count on. My fabulous clients, all the people that put up with me in social media.

There are so many amazing things coming up in 2019. I’m teaching a workshop in February in Orlando, Fl with Clinton Lofthouse, we are going on a creative road trip right after; I’m traveling to the UK in March to speak at the Photography Show in Birmingham, then teaching a workshop the week after in Amersham, doing some traveling with my friend and fellow Platypod Ambassador Dave Williams, I’m joining Kelbyone again on both Photoshop Worlds (Orlando and Vegas). I booked a few other speaker engagements. I’m going to continue doing work for commercial clients, create content for the magazines and websites I’ve been creating content for, and some other surprises that I can’t talk about just yet. 2019 looks very promising and I’m so excited about it.

I’m immensely thankful for your support and if there is one takeaway I would love for you to take from what I do is to go ahead take the leap, and go live a life you are excited to live every day when you wake up in the morning. Don’t settle, go ask for what you want, you would be surprised how many yes you are gonna get, and a no has never hurt anyone before. Those are very simple things that have completely changed my life.

11 Comments
  • Paul Howard
    Posted at 19:59h, 27 December Reply

    So amazing, so wonderful, and so happy for you, my dear. You’re the best! xoxox

    • Gilmar Smith
      Posted at 20:05h, 27 December Reply

      Have I told you lately that I love you?
      I cannot wait to see you in May!!!!

  • Kendy M
    Posted at 23:32h, 27 December Reply

    You words regarding grief towards the end spoke so much to me today. I do hope to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Congrats on an amazing year and thank you for sharing your journey with us. I love your work fellow chama! Feliz Navidad y Propero Año Nuevo! 🙂

  • Paula A Contreras
    Posted at 00:25h, 28 December Reply

    Truly amazing and inspiring Gilmar, you go woman!!

  • Dave wolanski
    Posted at 01:26h, 28 December Reply

    What a great year for you! Can’t wait to see how the skills you learned this year play out in the future!

  • Angela Migliore
    Posted at 02:15h, 28 December Reply

    Incredible year my friend! You made these great things happen and deserve all good things that come your way! So proud of you

  • Rafael Concepcion
    Posted at 14:12h, 28 December Reply

    you have fought for and you deserve every bit of it.

    Congratulations.
    RC

  • Larry Tiefenbrunn
    Posted at 17:09h, 28 December Reply

    Gilmar, you’re absolutely amazing and we’re sure your kids are super proud of their mom! You have risen from a rising star to a shooting star and we hope you never stop!
    Love, Larry and Mina Tiefenbrunn

  • Freddy Napoleoni
    Posted at 18:05h, 28 December Reply

    Congratulations on all of your success this year and may it continue for years to come. Very well deserved.

    Freddy Napoleoni
    NapeoniPhotography

  • JAlfonso
    Posted at 21:00h, 24 January Reply

    You are truly awesome Gilmar. I wish you so much more success.

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