I'd Like To Tell You A Story

It was a day like any other day in Omaha, Nebraska. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and seven-year-old Brayden, and his five-year-old brother Kaegan, were enjoying the start of a beautiful summer day. The redhead brothers were excited because their mother was taking them to Gateway To The Wild at the Henry Doorly Zoo, which is considered one of the world's best.

Both brothers dressed in a plaid button down shirt, shorts and sneakers. Brayden’s sneakers were a bright green color while Kaegan’s had a mix of black and green. Both brothers were ready for this special day and made sure to bring their sunglasses, because today, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

The zoo parking lot was packed and finding an empty spot took some time, but their mother found an open space and after she parked the boys rushed out of the car toward the zoo. As the family started walking toward the zoo entrance a tall, bald, African-American man approached their mother and asked her a simple question; "Do you think your son's have the ability to become the president one day?" The man carried an Ipad filled with images of other children from around the county who parents were asked the same question. As he spoke he showed her the pictures and explained that he was traveling to every state in America with the goal of photographing 100 kids and asking them what they would do in the future as the president of the United States. The boys had no idea at first what the conversation was about, but the mother knew right away this was important and asked her two boys if they wanted to be a part of the project the man spoke of.

At first, Brayden, who was very excited to enter the zoo, was hesitant, but his mother pulled him to the side and explained how this was something that could have a huge impact on both he and his brother’s life. Moment’s later, Brayden and Kaegan were being introduced to Matthew Jordan Smith, the man with the ipad who is the creator of the Future American President project. Matthew explained the project and ask them to think what they would do in the future, 50 years from now if they become the president of the United States.

While the brothers thought about the question Matthew prepared to photograph them and promised it would only take three to five minutes to complete. Both brothers wanted to wear their cool sunglasses, but the photograph would be stronger without them. Sensing that both brothers loved wearing their sunglasses, Matthew asked them to take their sunglasses off and hang them inside the collar of their shirts. He gave them a sign to hold which read, “Nebraska, Possibilities …Endless – Future President.”


The brothers had great smiles and in no time at all, Matthew had great photographs. After the photo session, both brother thought hard about the presidential question and decided to collaborate on their answer. They stood together and wrote their statement as mom looked on. Afterwards, Matthew thanked the family and wished them well as they left to enjoy a day at the zoo.


Brayden and Kaegan are like many children growing up today in Nebraska and like Warren Buffet, Fred Astaire, and other great Nebraskans, they have someone who believes they have the ability to do great things in life. If you'd like to learn how your child can be inspired through this book sign up with your email address below.  For joining us you'll receive a FREE PDF with 5 secrets to taking great children's pictures.

Always Dream Big

New Hampshire - First Presidential Primary

Making a lasting impression on a child isn't easy, but it is part of what I hope Future American President does for the children in this book. 

BTS_New Hampshire-0325.jpg

During the second year of shooting Future American President, I had the idea of signing each of the poster boards and giving them to each child as a memento from the shoot.  Seeing how each child reacted to me signing the boards was great and I hopefully it will give them great memories in the future. 

This location was the perfect spot to photograph a future president and maybe one of these children will make their way back here for their first presidentail primary. 


Today at 10:00am PST, I am doing a LIVE broadcast on How To Inspire The World Through Photography. 

The program can be viewed live on Periscope from your smart phone. If you are not familiar with the hot new app, Periscope is Twitter's Live new video broadcasting application. Download the app and watch today.

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

The Story Behind the Image_Cover Shoot

When working on a magazine or book project, the cover is one of the most important elements because it is the first thing people see. When I started working on my latest book project, Future American President, I thought long and hard about the image for the cover. I wanted a powerful image that people could see from a distance easily and also a memorable image that would stay in people's minds long after seeing the image.

I spent weeks doing research in Barnes and Noble looking at books at a distance, asking myself which ones stood out from the shelves and what made them work (or in some cases not work.) I came to the conclusion that nothing was more powerful than the image of a single person looking directly at the viewer. Now that I had my idea, I had to find the right subject. 

I photographed a little boy when he was an infant, just a few months old, and I watched him as he became older and saw the effect he had on people, even at a very young age. As a baby he wasn't able to do much, but l created an image that I love and that image hangs on my walls today.

Baby Cloud

Baby Cloud

I felt in my heart this child, who was now seven years old, would make the perfect cover subject, so I contacted his parents, whom are both celebrities, and asked them if I could photograph their son for the cover of my book. They were elated and we set up a time to do the photo shoot.


When I arrived at their house, I told them how important the cover was for this book. They knew about the project from the very beginning and watched as I traveled from state to state. I set up my lights, did my meter readings and started to photograph my young subject. I had the image in about ten minutes and felt great about all the shots, even though I shot very little. After the shoot I was sitting with both parents, when suddenly, the mother says to me, "Matthew, you know I love my son and I think he is very handsome child, but I can't help saying this. As a mother, if I were to walk into a store and see a book titled "Future American President" I may stop and look at it, but if that same book had the picture of a girl on the cover with the words "Future American President" I would stop, take a look and I would definitely buy the book because that IS the future. We've had 44 little boys grow up to become the President of the United States. Your book is about the future and dreams and aspirations of a nation. 


By the time we finished our conversation I knew the mother was right and that I had to continue my search to find the perfect little girl for my books cover.

Cover subject - Future American President

Cover subject - Future American President


Today, I am proud to present the cover image for my book and the story behind it. I am also very excited because in a little over 60 days, on July 6th, 2015 every family in America will have the chance to put their child on the cover of Future American President.


Stay tuned for details or send an email to saying you'd like a special edition book featuring your child on the cover. We will send you updates as we launch the special edition versions. 


Always Dream Big