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Brian Bowen Smith Talks New Book "Projects" | FGR Exclusive

Cindy Crawford by Brian Bowen Smith

American photographer Brian Bowen Smith has been shooting for over ten years. Smith was a pro athlete before being discovered by Herb Ritts and subsequently went on to work as his assistant. The Los Angeles-based photographer has since shot for publications including W, Interview and Vanity Fair. As for doing anything other than photography, it is “not an option” according to Smith.

And you can see why upon viewing his portfolio–his images seem to capture a certain connection with each subject whether model or celebrity. His new book, “Projects”, showcases images from throughout his career featuring well-known names such as Cindy Crawford, Carolyn Murphy, Hilary Swank and Demi Moore to name a few. Recently, FGR had a chance to ask Smith about the story behind the images.

I was completely influenced by [working with Ritts]. To watch a master at work. What luck. When you assist and can learn from someone so great, it’s an unbelievable education. If you’re smart you pay attention and soak it all in.

What was the inspiration behind the book? Do you see yourself doing another in the future?

The book is basically a biography and journey through what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years. inspirations? People and photography. Will I do another? I’ve already started.

What is one of your most memorable shoots?

There was one with Warren Beatty, and he said “you got it kid”, then we sat and talked for 3 hours after.

What made you want to become a photographer?

It’s always been in the back of my head since I was a kid, and when I finally got the opportunity, I grabbed it and ran for my life.

Selma Blair by Brian Bowen Smith

In your book, you feature many recognizable faces. Do you find there’s a difference between capturing an actor or musician vs. a model?

Definitely. Models either like to have their picture taken or don’t care. Sometimes its hard to be yourself.

What was it like working with Herb Ritts? How do you think you were influenced by the experience?

I was completely influenced by those experiences. To watch a master at work. What luck. When you assist and can learn from someone so great, it’s an unbelievable education. If you’re smart you pay attention and soak it all in.

Carolyn Murphy by Brian Bowen Smith

What are your goals from the beginning of a shoot to the end?

To get through it without any problems and enjoy myself the whole time.

Do you try to have a “style” for your photos? How would you describe it?

I would describe my style more on the simple and beautiful side.

When you’re not working, what are some hobbies you enjoy?

Surfing, motocross, snowboarding, spending time with the family, and shooting for myself.

Hilary Swank by Brian Bowen Smith

How do you think photography has changed in recent years?

Digital has opened doors for the avid photographer, there are so many shooters in the world now. Also the advances in printing and paper give the same advantages to making one’s art. I openly welcome this, and look forward to seeing what technology brings in the future.

Images Courtesy of Brian Bowen Smith / “Projects”


  1. Michelle

    May 30, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Nice interview. Interesting to see a photographer’s perspective.

  2. Pierre de Nylon-Mode

    June 3, 2013 at 11:03 am

    so wonderful

  3. Jenny

    June 7, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    I’ve been following his retoucher’s work (Bianca) for years and now to see their shared work together is so damn cool. Love all his work and now even more.

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