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MR: So tell us about your career and how it started. Were you a photographer first? DF: My brother Dean and I did not work for our family’s company. My family sold the company back in the 70s when I was in high school. I went through college. I went to Art Center College in Pasadena where I got a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. My brother Dean got his MBA at USC so he was the business and I’m the creative. Together we created our studio; Smashbox Studios which is slang for an old English camera smashbox. So Smashbox Studios originated in the 1990s in Santa Monica. We had one studio on 19th and Olympic. I wanted to create a working environment that all the photographers could come to from around the world. I wanted them to fall in love with the best equipment, amazing food — the food was a huge thing — and a hip environment. The first studio blew up. Photographers like Helmut Newton and Annie Leibowitz — all the big ones were sharing my one little space. Eventually this became a problem for us after a couple of years and we needed more space. We then moved to Smashbox in Culver City where you are right now and we have four studios now and of course, a cosmetics company. This studio became an incredible super studio like the ones you can find in New York and Europe. Before the studio opened, I was working at Industria NYC in New York with Fabrizio Ferri. He is an amazing photographer and owns Industria. I worked there in this is amazing studio among famous photographers. As a kid when I met Fabrizio, I already thought, “This is great and this is the business I want to be in.” When I moved back to LA and realized there was nowhere to shoot, I thought maybe if I could create a studio like he did, but in LA it would catch on here and photographers would use it from around the world. Publicists were happy, the celebrities were happy. Finally, they didn’t have to fly to New York and photographers were willing to come to LA. Our parking lot, our roof, our location was highly desirable in the fact that we were the only studio in town. My brother and I wanted to put our customers first and make sure they were well taken care of.

I wanted to create a working environment that all the photographers could come to from around the world. I wanted them to fall in love with the best equipment...

MR: And you’re still shooting with top photographers like Annie Leibowitz... You said this was her favorite studio? DF: Yeah, Annie just shot here for Vanity Fair and had shot in here many times. Every great photographer in the world has worked here. We just did the Chanel campaign. The whole campaign was shot in our studio, which was super cool. We want to foster a family-like creative community and atmosphere here and I think we have accomplished that. MR: Did you ever think you would have a cosmetics line? DF: Even though my family invented makeup, I never thought this was going to happen. Basically as a photographer, I noticed some problems with makeup. For example, when someone walks into the studio and sits down in the chair, we put concealer on her, we put foundation on her and she stands in front of the camera while we take pictures of her and her full makeup. I started to notice problems on the skin. I noticed that women needed a different foundation and that foundation reacted differently on different people. I started to see through foundation and to their skin. 1 1 8 | L E FA I R MAGAZINE

Profile for LEFAIR Magazine

LEFAIR Volume 10  

LEFAIR Volume 10  

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