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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.) Welcome to Against All Odds Productions. We are in slightly overcast Sausalito, California, just over the Golden Gate Bridge and this is a small apartment that we've turned into our production office and usually in this apartment, there is two or three of us. Sometimes we are 500 or a thousand people around the world. We're sort of like a little movie production company. So we started real small. I'll come up with an idea and then hire each of the different people and teams that we need for the projects that we are passing the torch along.
So I will invite you into our luxurious space here. We are working on a very exciting project, probably the most-- I don't think I've ever had so much fun coming to work everyday. We are working on a project called the Obama Time Capsule, and it's a pretty simple idea. A lot of people have been doing books about Obama. It's a very inspiring story and we thought, what if we came with this from a different direction? Instead of the typical publisher's approach which is do a book, get it out fast, print that as cheaply as possible, throw a bunch of pictures in it, and people will buy it because it has Obama's name on it.
Our thought was let's go back over and look at all the pictures taken by thousands of photographers over the last two years, find those special pictures, a lot of which never had saw the light of day. As a former Time and Life and National Geographic photographer, I was always frustrated. I never felt that a lot of these editors used the best pictures and I realize their job wasn't to give Rick Smolan a portfolio. But I often thought that a lot of pictures that I saw, then published, were the ones you would have expected to see before you ever sent me out to shoot and so often photographers come back with great images that are iconic and symbolic and intriguing, and a lot of those never make their way into the newspaper or the magazine, because it's not the way the magazine thinks.
They are not really-- they only want to give the audience what they are expecting to see. This Obama Time Capsule does a couple of things. First of all, it goes back over the last two years. It showcases wonderful photography and in addition to that we found a way to allow every single person who buys the book, and I am not kidding, every single person, to personalize the book. It's fun when you are doing something impossible and everyone's trying to help you make that dream come to life. So I will continue with the tour here. Caroline is working back here. Caroline Cortizo is from England and she worked with us last year on UK at Home and she is a Photoshop expert, she is an image management expert, she is a database queen and when we want to find a photograph, we always-- Caroline has this-- I am scared to think of what's going on your brain most of the time. But all you have to do is mention a picture, one picture out of like 10,000 that we have looked at the last week and she can take exactly where it is and find it within seconds on her computer.
We have a young guy name Topher who is in France, who is doing a lot of our remote programing for our image management sort of tools here. Parisa Moorhead runs the office, keeps all the trains running on time. Katya Able in the back is the person that actually runs the entire company. She is our Chief Operating Officer. As you can see, we are pretty much a Mac shop here. We've got some other machines around, but it's mostly Mac as most people in photography design tend to rely on Macs for all their tools. So we use InDesign, we use Photoshop, we use Acrobat. We are using InDesign Server for this project which allows us to do a lot of the customization.
A lot of these boards, when we have pictures we want to consider, we put them on these boards and so we have got, this is more here, but this is the last chapter of the book which is The First 100 Days of the Obama Administration and since we haven't gotten there yet, we continue to collect pictures. So if you look back over here, on the side-- the boards that you saw at the beginning are actually the book laid out, but all the book, all the pictures that we are considering for the book are up on these big boards. And there was a time we couldn't Prisa for last two weeks because the boards were blocking her. We had to throw food over to feed her behind the cage.
This cover is not right. It's still a little stretched but basically, it's a big thick coffee table book and beautifully printed and again, it looks like something that you'd get in a bookstore and that's we're aiming for, so it's indistinguishable, except it just happens to have your name on it and your picture is in it. We are calling this a Time Capsule because we think it's the kind of thing that people who want to leave their great grandchildren. My mother actually kept a book of J.F.K., The First 100 Days, and she would stick pictures of like what we were doing and our artwork from school and my third grade report card, or whatever grade I was at that time. And it's funny because she sort of feels like this was her idea and just always tell your mother she is right.
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