Rick Smolan

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Rick Smolan
Rick Smolan in the Sausalito headquarters of his production company, "Against All Odds Productions"
Born (1949-11-05) November 5, 1949 (age 64)

Rick Smolan is an American photographer. He is CEO of Against All Odds Productions.[1]


Smolan is a 1972 graduate of Dickinson College and has worked for TIME, LIFE and National Geographic. Smolan created the best-selling 'Day in the Life' photography series and is CEO of Against All Odds Productions, large-scale global photographic projects that combine story-telling with technology. Fortune Magazine selected Against All Odds as "One of the 25 Coolest Companies in America". Eight of the company's projects have been featured on the covers of Fortune magazine, Time magazine, Newsweek and US News & World Report.[2][3][4]

Notable works[edit]

Photography Books[edit]

In 1992, Smolan published From Alice to Ocean, a collection of photographs he took of writer Robyn Davidson's 1,700-mile trek across the deserts of West Australia, during which he would periodically drive out to meet her and photograph her journey's progress. Davidson's writings about her journey were published in National Geographic Magazine in 1978, along with Smolan's photographs, and an expanded account of her trip was later published in 1980 as a book entitled Tracks, which also included some of Smolan's photographs.[2][5][6] An Australian film based on Tracks was released in August 2013, starring Mia Wasikowska as Davidson and Adam Driver as Smolan.[7][8]

In 1994 Smolan helped to edit, author and publish the book Passage to Vietnam, a collection of photographs in the form of photo-essays of the country of Vietnam in the years after the Vietnam War, with a wide variety of photographs of life in post-war Vietnam including profiles of people and the insides of their homes, open air markets, and college dorms.[9] Two years later, in 1996, Rick Smolan published his next "Day in the Life" book 24 Hours in Cyberspace: Painting on the Walls of the Digital Cave, another collection of photographs from 150 photojournalists, with the intention to, over a 24 hour period, chronicle how the internet was beginning to have a profound affect on the daily lives of people around the world.[10][11]

In 2003 Smolan published America 24/7, a collection of more than 1,000 photographs from a wide variety of photographers all around the country trying to capture images of life across America, a book described as a "national family album." [12][13] In November 2007 Smolan published Blue Planet Run: The Race to Provide Clean Drinking Water to the World, a series of photos illustrating attempts around the world to bring fresh drinking water to various communities suffering from lack of clean and consistent water supply.[11]

Smolan's next publication, in 2008, was a two-book series called America at Home and UK at Home, in which photographers and photojournalists set out to capture through images the concept of "home" in both countries.[4] In 2009, Smolan published The Obama Time Capsule, which incorporated photos of Obama's first campaign for presidential office and his first 100 days in office and commentary from various notable people including Arianna Huffington and General Colin Powell.[4] The Obama Time Capsule was also published in a form where each book was printed separately and readers could include their own contributions and photos to personalize the individual book they would receive.[3]

Data Collection Projects[edit]

In 2000 Smolan organized The Planet Project: Your Voice, Your World, one of the largest real-time internet polls in internet history, with the aim to get answers from over 1.5 million people in more than 240 countries on how they felt about their lives at the dawn of the new millennium.[14]

In 2012 Smolan and co-author Jennifer Erwitt published The Human Face of Big Data, a book in which Smolan and Erwitt used various photographs, graphics, and information to make big data easier to comprehend and absorb on a more personal, relatable level.[2]