New Yorker Brain Bowen Smith is the enfant terrible among celebrity photographers. He can still perform the neck-breaking stunts with which he once earned his way as a pro skater.
Later, after following his dream to California and settling in Los Angeles, the legendary photographer Herb Ritts hired him as a model for an ad campaign. Inspired by the scene and the lifestyle, he decided shortly thereafter to become a photographer himself. The “bad news” of which he informed his wife soon turned out to be one the best decisions of his life. Herb Ritts was his mentor and teacher for more than four years, and shortly before Ritts’s death in 2002, he entrusted Bowen Smith with one of his cameras. The budding photographer had essentially been knighted.
During the inspiring time with Herb Ritts, Bowen Smith developed his very own style. His contact with people is just as important for him as it was for Ritts, and the celebrities posing for his camera love his unconventional manner.
The results are very natural portraits, even when the subjects are iconic stars such as Samuel L. Jackson or Warren Beatty. Bowen Smith himself says that photographs are organic – that they just happen without him having to do much. Only then does he consider a photo perfect.
Bowen Smith even manages literally to expose any number of the famous for the charity cause “Protect the skin you’re in.” Even Julianne Moore and Hillary Swank have bared it all for the good cause, which hopes to raise awareness for skin cancer. The editions, which are now available at LUMAS, show Eva Mendes, an erotic Hollywood star, and Carolyn Murphy, super model and mom. Eva Mendes just recently presented her most recent project at the Venice Film Festival, a new Werner Herzog interpretation of Abel Ferrara’s classic Bad Lieutenant. The beautiful Latina is, like always, a little crazy; the photograph’s setting in a hotel room couldn’t have been more perfect.
Carolyn Murphy was the face of Estée Lauder and, considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, continues to grace international catwalks. Bowen Smith portraits her in a classic black-and-white, timeless and yet human.
Brian Bowen Smith’s photographs are frequently published in magazines such as Marie Claire, Esquire, and Interview.
- Independent photographer since 1997
- lives and works in Los Angeles