For more than 30 years Chris Smith has travelled the US and Caribbean making images for Fortune 500 companies and editorial outlets like the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Traveler and Smithsonian Magazine. Based in southern Indiana, he also teaches photography at Northern Kentucky University.
In 2013 Smith & fellow photographer Michael E. Keating began a journey to document Indiana’s historic high school gyms, aptly named the Hoosier Hardwood Photo Project. Although basketball was not born in Indiana, the state adopted the game as its own – nine of the top ten largest high school gyms in the United States are located in Indiana. In 1954, the year tiny Milan won the state championship, more than 700 schools participated in the tournament – a story that would later inspire the Hollywood film Hoosiers. As of 2018 the Project has traveled more than 40,000 miles, shot more than 250,000 digital frames and visited more than 250 gyms. One hundred photos are currently on display at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and in 2016 the project was featured in the New York Times and was one of the Indiana Historical Society’s Bicentennial Exhibits. This photographic document is about a game that is more than sport – a game that is part architecture, part community and part history.