Every December, Britain’s Tate Modern debuts its much-anticipated Christmas tree. Designed by a different contemporary artist each year, the famed museum’s trees are both yuletide decorations and works of modern art. This year, Iranian installation artist Shirazeh Houshiary has quite literally turned the tradition on its head with her upside-down evergreen. Suspended by its trunk, the tree hovers above the main entrance’s stunning spiral staircase.
While we love seeing our favorite celebrities look dark and brooding or even upset (no, it’s not the sadist in me), it’s also wonderfully refreshing to see them like this – laughing, hamming it up for the camera or just looking lovely. These photos are by Brian Bowen Smith, an LA-based photographer who stumbled upon his profession by a chance meeting with a very famous photographer.
As his website states, Smith “became a professional photographer by a less traditional route than most. After catching the eye of legendary photographer Herb Ritts while performing as a pro skater…Herb became his mentor and friend.” For four years, Smith worked under Ritts as his assistant until he found his own, personal style of shooting. His beautiful photos can now be found in magazines like W, Interview, Esquire and Premiere. A great story about seizing an opportunity life fortuitously throws your way.
We got in touch with Smith after the post to ask him a few questions. Read that interview below.
What was learning under Herb Ritts like? What kind of lessons did he teach you?
Studying under Herb was a blessing and a direct result of what I am today as a photographer. It was an opportunity of a lifetime that I took full advantage of and if I’m being honest, I learned more about relationships with people you’re working with then the technical side of photography. He had a tremendous eye and an impeccable vision.
How would you describe your own style?
Simple. Timeless. And hopefully you get a glimpse of what the person is really like.
What’s the most rewarding and most challenging part of your job?
Making people proud of the picture. When someone says, “that is one of my favorite pictures”…that’s the best.
Any stories you’d like to share about your favorite celebrity?
I really don’t have a favorite. They are all unique in their own way. To pick a favorite would be unfair. Put it this way, I’ve never worked with anyone I didn’t love and wouldn’t want to shoot again. I have had the fortunate opportunity to work with some more then others, but that doesn’t make it any less of an experience.
Any tips or advice you’d give to aspiring photographers?
Check and make sure you have a trust fund before you start. Seriously, just remember it’s a long road. Look for your advantages, look for doors to open and bust right in. Don’t wait around because you’re good.