It’s hard to believe the automobiles in Anthony Schmidt’s images are scale models, much less that the photos were created by a 12-year-old.
Schmidt, who is on the autism spectrum, began making photographs of toy cars when he was six, says mother Ramona Schmidt. “He’s always loved cars from a very early age. The first words he spoke were makes and models of cars.” One day he began making photos of model cars with her iPhone and he never stopped.
Anthony’s autism means that the volume on his senses is turned up, Ramona says. Smells, sights, and sounds can be overwhelming. But the flipside is that he notices details others overlook, a strength he applies to his photography. He loves history and enjoys creating era-appropriate scenes with model vintage cars.
Photography also offers a way for Anthony to cope with his condition and to build self-confidence. When he’s working on a photo, he’s calm and happy, Ramona says. She created a Facebook page for his work, where he can also connect with admirers of his artistry.
She says one photographer reached out to her to ask about Anthony’s creative process—how he makes decisions about light, camera angle, composition. Anthony’s reply: “I don’t know. I just do it.”
She’s never explained scale or perspective to Anthony, she says: “I notice him looking for the light, the position of the sun, finding puddles to create reflection. He will spend time brushing away leaves that are too big, et cetera. It’s truly a natural talent.”
Amanda Arnold is associate editor of Professional Photographer.
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