In Spring of 1980, while I was just along for the ride inside my mother's womb, probably somewhere in an orange packing plant in Central California; Rex Larsen was 3 years into his professional photography career. He landed one of the most special assignments anyone could ask for; travel to Deer Lake Pennsylvania and spend a week with one of the world's most charismatic figures, of all time... the great Muhammad Ali. Ali was training for his come back match against Larry Holmes and Rex Larsen along with his writer from the Grand Rapids Michigan newspaper, were alone given the opportunity of embedding into the camp.
It was special sports history moment captured forever in film. An achievement many would only dream of. But for Rex Larsen, this embedding into Ali's training camp with unlimited access, was just one of over 10,000 assignments in a career that spans 40 years.
Born in 1955, Rex grew up in a world that could barely comprehend television and had absolutely no inclination of the technology explosion that lied ahead. He would sit on the edge of his bed, as a child in 1960's and flip through magazine after magazine, in love with the beautifully rich photographs.
Rex Larsen is a special man with a powerful story. I'm honored to share with you our interview. We talk about what it was like to not only live through, but thrive during the rapid evolution of photography, the internet and the digital age. We talk about career highlights, greatest lessons learned, the power of access and the pressure to constantly be great.
Come along with me as we explore the life of Mr. Rex Larsen.
Key take aways from our conversation:
02:57 - Rex explains how he went from a child enthralled with beautiful magazine photography to teaching himself film photography to a successful 36 year career at Grand Rapids Press Newspaper.
06:27 - The evolution of photography from film to digital and social media.
08:44 - Embedding into Mohammad Ali's training camp for a week in 1980 as he prepared for his rematch with Larry Holmes.
11:45 - The key word is "access." It's so important to be THERE. At the moment of something. Whether it's backstage, or behind the scenes, or at the moment of birth, or the moment of death, joy, tragedy. Access, being there is the most important.
12:45 - A career filled with over 10,000 assignments. From fashion shoots, to the funeral of world leaders, to the birth of a child and the death at an accident, to corporate head shots. Rex puts it all in perspective.
16:00 - 40 years dedicated to a craft. That's true long game dedication. What's been biggest struggles? "The importance and pressure of constantly being great."
17:45 - Editing in film VS editing in digital.
19:30 - Most important lesson or experience - to witness life in all aspects in all its true glory and sorrow. Most important tip? Expose yourself to high quality work. Set high standards. If you aim high and fall short, you're still doing very well.
21:00 - The learning never ends. There's always something to learn.
For more information on Mr. Rex Larsen