In this episode of reDefine, we talk with Pulitzer Prize winning photographer, Brian Smith. We chatted in Las Vegas about his experience creating a collection of Academy Award portraits with top celebrities. And he shares some pretty clever insight of how he caught the eye of magazine editors, so listen close.
Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Brian Smith is the luckiest guy on the planet. He’s told Bill Gates exactly what to do for an entire hour, appeared on X Factor, had an exhibit at the Library of Congress, dined with the President and 3,000 of their closest friends, had cupcakes with Anne Hathaway, gotten drunk with George Clooney and married the most beautiful woman he ever laid eyes on…
For the past 30 years, his bold, graphic portraits of famous celebrities, athletes and executives have been used in advertising, by corporations and have graced the covers and pages of hundreds of magazines. His first magazine photograph appeared in LIFE Magazine when Smith was a 20-year-old journalism student at the University of Missouri. Five years later, Smith won the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography for his photographs of the Los Angeles Olympic Games. He was again a finalist for the Pulitzer for his photographs of Haiti in Turmoil. His photograph of Greg Louganis hitting his head on the diving board at the Seoul Olympics won first place in both World Press Photo and the Pictures of the Year competition and he was named as one of American PHOTO magazine’s New Faces in Photography.
His work has been exhibited at the Library of Congress, Aperture Gallery, Chelsea Art Museum and the W Los Angeles. His book ART & SOUL, done in partnership with The Creative Coalition with support from Sony features Smith’s portraits of celebrities with their messages about the importance of finding the arts.
Smith has been featured on the cover of the Photo District News Portraiture Issue and the Communication Arts Photography Annual, American PHOTO, Popular Photography, Digital Photo Pro, Rangefinder and After/Capture magazines. His work has appeared in hundreds of magazines including Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine, Time, Forbes, New York Times Magazine and British GQ.
He is a Sony Artisan of Imagery, Loweprofessional and X-Rite Coloratti. He has appeared on X Factor and Fine Living Network. He is President of Editorial Photographers, an organization of the top magazine photographers and newspaper photojournalists from around the world and frequently a speaker at photography seminars and to photo students at colleges, universities and art institutes around the country.
His photography career began as a high school swimmer clearly not destined for the Olympics in the pool, yet this provided him with the opportunity to photograph swimming and other sports as a stringer for the Ames Daily Tribune. Three million miles later on assignments to six continents his home in Miami Beach, Florida.
“I’ve got the greatest job in the world. My worst days as a photographer might be the greatest days in the lives of many people.” — Brian Smith