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Rick Smolan, Photographer

Generations of photography


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Rick Smolan, Photographer

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Video: Generations of photography

(Music plays.) Rick Smolan: My dad was a photographer in World War II. He photographed the surrender of the Japanese. All my brother-in-laws are photographers, my sister-in-law is a photographer. I mean, I am surrounded, everybody in my family is either a designer, a filmmaker or a photographer, and my parents weren't-- I mean, my dad was photographer in World War II but he was a businessman when I was growing up, so I have been doing this since I was 14 years old.

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Rick Smolan, Photographer
1h 17m Appropriate for all Jun 29, 2009

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Rick Smolan is responsible for some of the largest photographic projects ever undertaken. A former Time, Life, and National Geographic photographer, Rick created the best-selling Day in the Life book series and many other large-scale photographic projects, such as America 24/7, 24 Hours in Cyberspace, and Blue Planet Run. He pushes the boundaries of technology with each new project while delivering inspiring books that tell masterful photographic stories. His projects have been featured on the covers of magazines such as Fortune, Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report. This installment of Creative Inspirations takes viewers inside Rick's latest production, where he reveals his unique processes and shows how he reinvents himself for each new project.

Subjects:
Photography Creative Inspirations Documentaries
Author:
Rick Smolan

Generations of photography

(Music plays.) Rick Smolan: My dad was a photographer in World War II. He photographed the surrender of the Japanese. All my brother-in-laws are photographers, my sister-in-law is a photographer. I mean, I am surrounded, everybody in my family is either a designer, a filmmaker or a photographer, and my parents weren't-- I mean, my dad was photographer in World War II but he was a businessman when I was growing up, so I have been doing this since I was 14 years old.

It's exciting to be able to now feature the work of the people that were my heroes when I was growing up, and to help try to maybe discover some of the new young photographers. I feel like the aging rock star that doesn't get on stage and perform anymore, but now I get to produce the young bands. That's what it feels like. This sort of seems to run in our family and what's really interesting watching Phoebe and Jessie is they have been picking up my cameras over the last couple of years and it's so interesting to sort of see the world through their eyes. Both of them are really good at it. They like the interaction with other people.

You really love taking pictures don't you? And she has been photographing since she was very, very young. One of the things we do sometimes is we sit and look at grandpa's books. And we talk about how he had such a wonderful sense of humor, but it's almost like a New Yorker, kind of dry sense of humor. It's not silly cats hanging from poles. It's things where you suddenly see juxtapositions in pictures. And I have noticed looking at Phoebe's pictures and Jessie's pictures, of some of those same elements starting to show up where they are seeing the relationship between people or objects in the picture.

So this morning we sat down with Phoebe and Jessie and asked them to each pick their favorite picture and Phoebe, I thought maybe you can talk a little bit about why, of all these pictures in this book, why is this picture of this little boy on the beach, why is this the one picture you want to talk about today? Phoebe: So there are all these people doing yoga and stuff on the beach and there is this naked little boy that is standing there, and a lot of people when they look at this picture, think that he is just looking at the crowd doing yoga, but a lot of people don't see this when they look at this picture, but actually over here at the end of the crowd, there is a little girl doing yoga too and I think that's what he is looking at.

Rick Smolan: Yeah, I never noticed this little girl till this morning when she pointed it out. I have looked at the picture probably a hundred times and never noticed that before. That's pretty cool. When you take pictures, is there something that you look for? I mean, what's your favorite thing to photograph? Phoebe: Animals. Rick Smolan: Yeah, I thought so. Phoebe: One of the things that it really stands out that is one of my favorites was when I was in Hawaii and it's sort of a modern picture, but so I was laying back in a chair right by the pool with a shade over it and I saw a bird flying in the sky and I was a little too lazy to get up, so I just took the camera and I just shot upward and from the light, the top of it turned black and then the sky shadow against it and then there is bird flying, so it's just, I think, it's really cool.

Rick Smolan: Like a silhouette? Phoebe: Yeah. Rick Smolan: Jessie also loves photography. He is always borrowing my camera. And the other day I found a picture he took of me while I was shaving in the morning. It was shot like basically from the ground up, so it looked like this huge towel with little tiny head on top of it, remember? You did that the other day? It was pretty funny. Jessie: I took this picture because it's like a joke where there are like two people sitting down and then in this next picture, that wind, it looks like the wind blew and then they like flew right off of it.

Phoebe: I think it's really unique to have a family that does so much photography and we always make books and it's just cool.

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