Japanese Star Becky

I recently photographed one of the most famous people in Japan for a series of beauty images. Today, the images are all over Japanese TV, Instagram, Yahoo news, LINE news, and other media outlets. 

While most people outside of Japan may not know Becky, many have made comments on her remarkable beauty comparing her look to a young Isabella Rossellini.

All I know is that I enjoyed working with Becky and her sister and can't wait to do it again!


Becky photographed by Matthew Jordan Smith

Becky photographed by Matthew Jordan Smith



TALK SHOW - What Your Kids Will Learn

In a moment, FUTURE AMERICAN PRESIDENT will receive its first major press. We are moments away from doing our first talk show speaking about the book. Three celebrities associated with the book are the feature of today's show, and I, am a VIP guest in the audience. 

There are several educational elements in Future American President, and I hope we get to speak about them today. As a visual person, I wanted to make sure the book was able to teach children about America, past presidents, and iconic people from each state.

To do this, instead of a traditional table of contents, we sequenced the book in the order that each state became part of the Union. Children can look at the timeline and learn the year each state became part of the United States. 

There is also a FUTURE AMERICAN PRESIDENT map. By viewing the books map, children will be able to learn the birth state of the current president and each past president. They will also be able to quickly see which states have never given birth to a president. As a bonus, each president's name is accompanied by the years they served in office, making the book a great reference tool for kids. 

Throughout the book, children will be able to learn as they turn the pages and read about their peers in every state, but as they look at each state they will also learn about great American's born in each state. For example, in Missouri, children can learn about Misty Copeland, Walker Evens and Al Hirschfeld, who were all born in Missouri.

The only thing that could make this book better is if you were able to include YOUR child in the book. Well, on September 15th you will have that chance. Starting at 9:00 a.m. on September 15th, and running for only 30 days, you will be able to order a special edition version of the book featuring your child on the front and back cover.

To have your email added to the list for updates regarding the special edition book and to receive a FREE video tutorial on photographic lighting click the link below.

Always dream big

The Definition of Success

Today I did an interview and was asked a question that always seems to come up in interviews - “when did you know you’d made it?” The funny thing is, I always feel like I am still in the process of “making it.” Whenever I’m asked that question I think back to the day I spent interviewing Samuel L. Jackson for my first book Sepia Dreams.


Mr. Jackson was shooting the movie Shaft at the time and I was doing the interview in his trailer. I asked him the same question that I was asked today, “When did you know you’d made it?” Samuel responded saying, “well success is a funny thing because it has different stages at different times in your career. When I first started out I had success and I struggled, but I never worried about whether or not it was worth it. When I wasn’t acting, I was building sets and hanging lights and doing something in the theater. I was around when Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and Wesley Snipes were breaking out and becoming stars. At the time, I wasn’t getting a lot of acting work. I went through a kind of depression for a while, but then it occurred to me that the work is what makes me happy. It never occurred to me to quit. From early on, it was instilled in me that it was about the work and not the result of the work. It didn’t matter if I was a big star or not, I just wanted to do great work. Everybody wants things to happen at the exact time that they want them to. But I’ve always been very accepting of what going on around me. I wasn’t trying to be a movie star, or to be famous, or to be anything way before it was supposed to happen, I was just trying to be an actor.


I remember the week Spike Lee’s, Do The Right Thing opened. I was walking down the street in New York with one of the main actors in the movie, Bill Nunn who plays Radio Raheem in the movie. People were stopping him and asking for his autograph but didn’t notice me. They just didn’t recognize me from the movie, and the first scene in the movie is my character opening the movie as the DJ.  Years later, my family was on vacation in Italy, we were walking around the Vatican with the other tourist, and a priest stopped us and said, ”Oh my God! It’s Samuel L. Jackson.” The reality of success is actually a lot bigger then the dream. Your career will lead you to all kinds of things that you can’t predict.”


Today I feel the same way Samuel Jackson felt after doing the movie, Do The Right Thing, but like he said to me that day, it’s not about the result of the work, it’s about loving the work you do. I love photography through all its ups and downs. It’s a difficult decision to decide to become an artist, but if you make that decision make sure you love the craft because it’s the love of your craft and enjoying the work that will define success for you. 


Always Dream Big

How To Fight Your Fear - Lessons from Las Vegas

Sometimes the biggest obstacles we face in life come from ourselves. We have a dream, but we talk ourselves out of it before we even begin because of our fear. This was almost the case when deciding to create Future American President. 

My idea was to travel to every state in America and photograph children as a way to inspire them to dream big. I wanted to help children imagine themselves as the President of the United States by telling them I believe they have the ability to become the president, and then photographing them as a future president. I believe by combining a profound moment with a simple but powerful question, "what would you do if you were the President of the United States 50 years from now.", then this moment could possibly create a spark in a child's life.  Maybe even inspire that child to do great things in the future and become a future American president.

My fear almost stopped me before I even began. The fear part of my idea came from wanting to approach families that I did not know, strangers, and asking them if I can photograph their children. My internal fight with fear had me doubtful about the project one day and excited the next. The first test came in Las Vegas when I approached my first family. The lump in my stomach reminded me of playing sports as a kid. That fear I had right before a game as my stomach was in knots came back as I approached my first family.  With sports, as soon as the game started, the fear (the knot in my stomach) went away as soon as the whistle blew to start the game. It was exactly the same with doing this book project. The first family that I approached in Las Vegas looked at me like I was crazy, (or my fear had me thinking so) but I put all my passion for this project in every single word as I described what I was doing. The family in Las Vegas was a big family, which increased the fear factor, but they surrounded me and listened as I shared my concept. 

To give the families confidence in my ability to make this project come to life, I brought along my first two books, Sepia Dreams and Lost and Found. I also brought along examples of my celebrity work. This helped to let the families know that I was capable of bringing this project to life, and to let them know I wasn't some crazy person with a camera.


 When I finished talking to the first family, they all looked at each other and said, "sure, if he wants to do it", then they turned to their son and asked him if he wanted to be photographed. He must have wondered what in the world was going on, because all of the sudden all the adults were giving him their full attention, and I was on my knees telling him that I believe he has the ability to do great things in life one day, even the ability to become the president one day. 

The next thing I knew I was setting up my Profoto strobe lights, taking light meter readings, (which always makes my subject curious) and giving my six-year-old subject his board to hold. The photo shoot went well and my subject, little Chase, was serious and presidential in his images. As I photographed him, his entire family looked on smiling and taking pictures of the moment. After the 5 minute photo shoot ended, I asked Chase to write down what he would do if he were the President of the United States 50 years from now. He looked up as he held my sharpie and started to think. His family was now beginning to repeat the question, and started to write. His mother helped him but only a little bit, and soon his statement was complete and the project was on its way.

Chase in Las Vegas for Future American President

Chase in Las Vegas for Future American President

Sometimes our fears can get the best of us and talk us out of doing something incredible, like creating that amazing new product, or bringing a life changing idea to life. The road to success is paved with bricks of fear and doubt, but you have to just walk around, walk over or jump over your fear and get on the path to creating the life you want most.

Future American President is now completed and available, but something new and exciting is coming in July, 2015. 

Always Dream Big