Enviable are people who discover their passion at an early age. For Anthony Schmidt, that passion is cars, like the 1929 Lincoln model car he remembers getting when he was 3 (it also worked as a radio). By age 6, Schmidt’s model car collection had grown, as had his interest in simply owning model cars to photograph them in realistic, often historical-looking settings.
Today, in addition to more than 2,500 model cars, Schmidt owns two full-size vehicles: a 1957 Ford Custom, as well as a black 1959 Studebaker Silver Hawk that he was able to purchase with proceeds from the sales. calendars featuring his photographs. The fact that the Seattle-area eighth-grader isn’t yet able to drive these cars hasn’t been a barrier to pursuing his passion, nor has his diagnosis on the autism spectrum.
“It’s because of autism that I also have this special interest in cars, and the reason why I photograph them every day without exception,” Schmidt explains via email.
Some of Schmidt’s photographs are featured in Small cars, big inspirationwhich opened at the Kolva-Sullivan Gallery in Spokane on April 1 and is viewable by appointment throughout the month.
“Some of the characteristics of autism actually help me create this art, like hyperfocus and my attention to detail,” says Schmidt, who uses both natural settings like a grassy yard, as well as natural settings. ‘it builds, like a country lane backdrop for a Ford Model A photo.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max is Schmidt’s favorite camera, which he positions to create a realistic perspective. That means paying attention to lighting and shadows, proportions, and how cars and scenery relate to each other. By manipulating the position of 1950s model cars sitting on a wet “sidewalk”, for example, Schmidt is able to make the vehicles appear as if they are really parked in front of King Charley’s iconic hamburger restaurant in the area of Snohomish.
Schmidt has also learned to modify some of his car models to look older, like the rusty-looking Volkswagen Beetle that looks abandoned on the beach for his 2022 photo calendar. Schmidt credits his mother, Ramona Balaz- Schmidt, a former professional muralist, inspired her interest in art.
“It’s great,” he says. “We are a great team.”
With the help of her mother, Schmidt launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $45,000 to produce a book with the same title as her April gallery show.
He has also built an enthusiastic following through social media and his website (anthonyryanschmidt.com), which includes greeting cards, postcards, t-shirts, and standalone prints.
Some of these fans, for example, gifted Schmidt with model cars, while another admiring fan gifted Schmidt with his ’57 Custom.
In July, Schmidt will travel to the Midwest Dream Car Collection in Manhattan, Kansas, where he will give his first-ever presentation on his art and process.
It’s important to him to inspire others to pursue their dreams, says Schmidt, who wants to continue his automotive photography and pursue a career in automotive restoration.
Schmidt’s positive attitude and innovative automotive photographs have caught the attention of Apple Inc., which plans to promote him and his work, he says.
“We’re still figuring out exactly what it will be, but I’m sure it will be exciting,” Schmidt said. “It’s a big deal because sometimes photographers look down on photos that aren’t taken with a real camera. It proves that you can take great photos with just an iPhone.”
It also proves what a young man determined to succeed can do when he follows his passion.
“Autism has its challenges, but it’s only a diagnosis,” says Schmidt. “That shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want in life.” ♦
Small cars, big inspiration • Until April 30, open by appointment • Free • Kolva-Sullivan Gallery • 115 S. Adams St. • Facebook: Kolva-Sullivan-Gallery • 509-458-5517