Rick Smolan

Rick Smolan Bio Headshot

Rick Smolan is a New York Times bestselling author/photojournalist with over five million books in print. A Time, Life, and National Geographic photographer Smolan created the “Day in the Life” books. His global photography projects feature the world’s leading photographers and combine storytelling with state-of-the-art technology. Oprah Winfrey featured his AMERICA 24/7 book on her “Favorite Things” program.

The Oscar-winning producers of “The Kings Speech” recently released TRACKS, based on Smolan National Geographic cover story about 27-year-old Robyn Davidson’s 1,700-mile nine-month solo camel trek across the treacherous Australian Outback. In the movie, Smolan was portrayed by actor Adam Driver. In 2023 Smolan was awarded the “Ellis Island Medal of Honor” presented to individuals who “embody the spirit of American patriotism, tolerance, brotherhood and diversity.” Previous recipients include William J. Clinton, Eric Schmidt; Elie Wiesel; Muhammad Ali; and Rosa Parks.

Robyn Davidson reaches Australia's Indian Ocean at the end of her 1700 mile 9 month solo camel trek across the treacherous Gibson Desert.

Smolan and his Against All Odds Productions team pioneered the field of interactive publishing, producing photography books and associated CD-ROMs, including From Alice to Ocean, one of the first CD-ROMs to be targeted for a consumer market; Passage to Vietnam, hailed by the Chicago Sun-Times as "the best CD-ROM ever produced" and 24 Hours in Cyberspace, a chronicle of the largest one-day online event to date. American Photo magazine honoured Smolan as one of "Photography's Top 100" most important people: "Perhaps no one has been more influential in creating a market for photography books.”

Smolan's latest book, "THE GOOD FIGHT: AMERICA'S ONGOING STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE", is a powerful reminder of how much progress America has made over the past 100 years against hatred, bigotry, racism, misogyny, homophobia and injustice and what's at risk right now. The book has won numerous awards, including The Independent Book Publishers “Freedom Fighter” Award and Ben Franklin Association awards for “History" and “Politics and Current Events”. People Magazine chose it as one of the "10 Best Books of the Year", and TED sent a copy to all 1,500 members as the official TED BOOKCLUB selection.

Muhammad Ali on tour in Korea preparing to spar with US soldiers

Rick Smolan has spoken at TED, All Things Digital, The Davos World Economic Forum, The Ford Foundation, The Wired Health Conference, TEDMED, Techonomy, DLD in Munich, IdeaCity in Canada, and INK in India. His TED talk “Natasha’s Story: An American Homecoming” has been watched by over a million people. www.NatashaStory.co

Smolan’s projects often feature advance looks at emerging technologies and have collectively generated billions of media impressions. Ten years before the Internet appeared on the scene, Smolan received backing from the Washington Post to create PHOTO ONE, the world’s first online community for professional photographers. He subsequently co-founded LIGHTSOURCE, one of the world’s first AI companies, with Phillip Moffitt, the Editor of Esquire Magazine and Rob Cook, the Oscar-winning creator of RenderMan software. APPLE sponsored Smolan’s first project, A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AUSTRALIA, in which he brought 100 of the best photographers in the world to Australia for 24-hour documentation of the country. That book launched the DAY IN THE LIFE series which included JAPAN, CHINA, AMERICA, SPAIN, ITALY, IRELAND and CANADA. Initially turned down by 35 publishers, the series became the best-selling illustrated book series in publishing history.


Books, Films and Exhibitions

"A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AMERICA" was featured on the cover of Newsweek and became the first illustrated book to reach the #1 position on The New York Times. "America 24/7" was the largest crowd-sourced project in history. It enabled each reader to feature themselves and their families on the cover of what became Smolan’s fourth #1 New York Times bestseller with 1.4 million copies in print.

"THE GOOD FIGHT: AMERICA’S ONGOING STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE" won The Independent Book Publishers “Freedom Fighter” Award and Ben Franklin Association awards for “History" and “Politics and Current Events.

"THE HUMAN FACE OF BIG DATA" was delivered to 10,000 key influencers in 50 countries in a single day. The companion "HUMAN FACE OF BIG DATA PBS TV SPECIAL" won the award for “Best Cinematography" at the Boston Film Festival, and was broadcast in 35 countries. "THE HUMAN FACE IPAD APP" won the WEBBY for best educational app. "Blue Planet Run: The Race to Provide Clean Drinking Water to the World" won the "Outstanding Book of the Year IPPY Gold Award" and the Independent Book Publishers Association's Benjamin Franklin Award.

"THE POWER TO HEAL" was featured in a Newsweek cover story, and 1/3 of all physicians in America received a copy. "ONE DIGITAL DAY" was featured in the largest cover story in Fortune Magazine's history and given to 120,000 Fortune 500 CEOs, heads of media organizations and world leaders.

"THE OBAMA TIME CAPSULE" became the first best-selling mass-customized book in publishing history. The book generated more than 70 million media impressions, including feature stories on "The ABC Evening News", "USA Today", "CNN's Situation Room", Entertainment Weekly, ABC News Now, and "MSNBC's Morning Joe Program”. Google featured the book on their landing page (an Internet first).

"A DAY IN THE LIFE OF HAWAII TV SPECIAL" won the award for best cinematography and was broadcast nationwide on PBS. "24 Hours in Cyberspace" became the first website added to the Smithsonian Institute.