Brian Bowen Smith on Projects and the Art of Celebrity Photography

by Elizabeth Thompson

Photographer Brian Bowen Smith was discovered by celebrity photographer Herb Ritts as a professional inline skater in the '90s. He became Ritts' assistant, studied under him for four years, and the rest is fashion history. Smith's new book, Projects, which he signed copies of last night at Bookmarc, combines his striking black and white photography of nudes, celebrities and models into one coffee table tome (with the eternally major Cindy Crawford on its cover). "It's hard for me because I have severe ADD," Smith says. "I'll start one project, then I'll start another one and then another one. I was like, 'fuck it, I'll just put them all in one book.'" Known for his quick photo shoots ("If you don't get your photo in the first 10-15 frames, you're probably not going to get it."), Smith's mastered the art of getting celebrities to let their guards down, allowing him to get his striking shots of everyone from Selma Blair, Demi Moore and Brooke Shields to Ben Affleck and Josh Brolin for magazines including Vanity Fair, W and Esquire. "With celebrities, if a shoot goes bad, it's because you've asked them to do something they don't want to do and they feel uncomfortable. There's nothing worse. If a celebrity doesn't want to do something doing a shoot, you just don't do it." Above and below, shots of Smith at last night's signing as well as images from Projects, all courtesy of Bookmarc.

Brian Bowen Smith

Jessica Stam

Demi Moore

Selma Blair

Hilary Swank

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