Smith was often involved in the cutting edge of photographic techniques: in 1931 he started experimenting with high-speed flash photography of action subjects, and started doing color work in 1936 when few people considered it a serious artistic medium. His later images were nearly all abstract, often made directly (without a camera, i.e. like photograms), for instance images created by refracting light through splashes of water and corn syrup on a glass plate. However, although acclaimed as a photographic teacher, Holmes' own photographs and other images did not achieve any real recognition from his peers.
At the end of his career, Smith questioned the value of photographic education, noting that unlike, say, a medical degree, a degree in the fine arts didn't lead to some useful role in society.Wikipedia