Hi, Ted --
I've had a self-hosted WordPress blog for a couple of years now. I chose a theme that was completely customizable, but the tradeoff is that it involved some hand coding. I don't have experience with themes that might not require coding.
My theme is Atahualpa. Click on the thumbnail to see an enlarged view: WordPress › Atahualpa « Free WordPress Themes
For comparison, my blog is: Angels Landing Digi-Stamps Blog
. As you can see, my blog looks nothing like the theme. I chose that one because you can totally change it to suit you.
There are a couple of technical issues to think about before you decide to go this route.
First, make sure you pick a host that is compatible with the Core Update feature. The list is here: Core Update Host Compatibility « WordPress Codex
Second, pick a theme that has been tested as safe over as wide a range of browsers as possible. Some of them aren't.
Third, be aware that when you are running your own database, you are responsible for backing it up yourself. That procedure is here: Backing Up Your Database « WordPress Codex
People on Blogger have been able to get their brand new blogs up and running in an afternoon. It took me more than a week to launch mine. It's been a couple of years since I went through the process, so they might have streamlined it now.
There are many pluses, though, including reliability and complete control. Also, you'll be able to host your images on your own server, which will solve your SmugMug problems.