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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.
(Music plays.) We did two books last year. One was called the America At Home. One was called the UK At Home. And it's the concept of home, it's the emotions of home. It's not Architectural Digest. The book we'd love to do next is China At Home. And we think that using this customization technology that instead of-- America at Home and UK at Home, we allowed people to customize their covers. But I think going forward, we would love to find a way of maybe mixing, doing the hybrid of offset and print on demand.
So, that one portion of the book would have all the interactive stuff in it. And the rest of it would be printed much cheaper and you would actually insert the custom bound chapter into the offset, pre-printed version to make it affordable. But I think in a country like China where everyone's got a cellphone camera and photography is just going crazy there, a project like this might be very well received. I would imagine that people watching what we do here think that we start out from a position of incredible confidence and self-reliance and optimism and oddly enough I think I actually start the opposite side of that spectrum.
I actually start out thinking that this is going to be -- we're going to crash and burn and this is going to be an enormous failure and how are we going to like survive the fact that none of this is going to work? I actually started out with that thought and then once I have accepted that defeat, before I've started, everything else kind of feels like upside from that point on. It's very bizarre. I mean I don't think this is all how people would guess I approach these things. I actually like being scared. I like being in over my head. It makes me feel more alive. I think you find out a lot about yourself when you're under pressure and when things are going smoothly, I'm pretty bored. And I feel like I don't actually function very well unless I'm in a state of terror of some kind.
I don't show it. I am really good at hiding it but I definitely like the adrenaline. You know I have a couple of projects that I've always thought would be really interesting to do and it seems like every time we go off and start working on them, another project sort of jumps right in front of it. It's sort of like when you live in San Francisco, you never go to Alcatraz. Because you live here. Until your tourist friends come and somehow all of the projects that I've always wanted to do, because I really have them in my mind, I figure I will do them, but then something else comes right in front of it and it seems fresh and different that I haven't thought about before.
Female Speaker: So the way it starts out is Rick has these huge impossible ideas and what he does is he circulates with a bunch of wonderfully inspiring people and networks with a huge diverse amount of people and gets inspired by them and always loves to think about what's bleeding edge and bring it into photography and photo journalism and the creation of our books. We are very unconventional. Although, I'm the one more likely to be the one that has order, making order out of chaos. What makes everything really exciting is that we're always adding in other things during the process of making or producing a project. And if we were not flexible, most of the best ideas would never have happened.
So being flexible and allowing for these impossible things that you should have discounted and said, "no way," help to actually enhance a project quite often. You have to be a bit of adrenaline junkie to be able to survive here. And you also have to let-- you just have to like go with it and solutions always come out somehow. I don't know how but they do.
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