Among the long list of celebrities Smith has shot are Ben Affleck, Adrien Brody, Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes. He’s been both in front of the camera and behind it, and worked under legendary photographer Herb Ritts. His work has appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and many more, and he’s currently working on his first photography book, Pictures Through My Eyes.

What first attracted you to photography?

I took a photography class in high school and was obsessed with it, but lost interest when I went to college. I started making skate videos and from there, started shooting my own covers because it was too expensive to hire a photographer and got back into it.

My wife was a model so I took some pictures of her and her agency loved them, so I started shooting more and said I don’t know if it’s going to work, but I don’t care. This is what I want to do.

What has been your best shoot?

Warren Beatty because we got on really good. Him being such an icon was so amazing for me to shoot.

Do you have a preference for working with actors, models or musicians?

I like working with actors best because they give it the most. Most musicians don’t like to be shot, so it’s like pulling teeth trying to get them to do anything but stand there. Models can be difficult. If you get a good model it’s amazing, but it depends on who you’re working with.

So who do you really want to work with now that you haven’t already?

Dave Grohl.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in this industry?

If you have any interest in being a photographer, the first thing you should do is check if you have a trust fund [laughs]. You can be hot for a minute and then level off, and it has nothing to do with your photography.

There are so many things that can affect whether you work or don’t work and you just have to have really thick skin and have patience. If you truly love it, you do what you have to to survive. Shoot a Bar Mitzvah, the next day you might be shooting Madonna, that’s the way it goes.

What’s the best advice you have for aspiring photographers? Figure out what you want to do. Fashion, celebrities, fine art, and don’t try to copy another photographer that’s already successful. You’ve got to find a niche and say, “What can I contribute to this industry?”

Don’t be afraid to say “Hey, I’m nobody, but here’s what I’ve done, and I’d love to shoot your band.” You never know what’s going to be the start of your career.

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