Person

Anthony Barboza

Photograph of dark skin man in white blazer and gray trousers holding waist of a dark skin woman posing next to him in an orange bathing suit

I met Willi twice; the first was when I photographed him and his sister Toukie together. He was a very unusual and powerful spirit—gentle and very kind.

Photographing the two of them was like shooting one person. They were two halves of a whole, with each partner giving to the other partner, like twins.

When you meet a person like Willi, you receive something and you give out something. I’ve photographed people for 55 years, and very few stand out in my mind as having had that special aura about them. Alice Walker, James Baldwin, and Cesar Chavez had it, and so did Willi Smith.

Photograph of dark skin man in white blazer and gray trousers holding waist of a dark skin woman posing next to him in an orange bathing suit

Willi and Toukie Smith. Photographed by Anthony Barboza, 1978