Matthew Jordan Smith has been a photographer of the stars for over three decades. Along the red-carpeted way, he has amassed well over a million photographs. And that’s just his digital collection.
His Mylio library includes portraits of luminaries like Oprah Winfrey, George Lucas, Queen Latifah, Michael Jordan, and Zendaya — along with daily-life snapshots he regularly visits to rediscover and enjoy personal memories.
With photographic abilities as vast as his creativity, Smith often ventures beyond the A-list celebrity zone to experiment with new photo projects.
Based in Tokyo, he was invited to shoot the athletes in the Olympic village during the 2021 Games in Japan, marking the first time fans got a look at life inside the village. He recently created the first-ever Ugokugraph (a continuous cycle of movement captured through an endless frame) and has begun making NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, of digital images.
Years ago, Smith learned about Mylio through founder and CEO David Vaskevitch. He fell in love with how the app helps him see the full story of his life and discover photos he’s forgotten about.
Let’s learn more about Smith’s story and relationship with Mylio.
How did you get into photography?
My father taught me about photography when I was a kid. I fell in love with it and started taking pictures of everything. I have all that in my film archive that I need to digitize and add to Mylio because that stuff is cool. I went to art school then to New York and started my career working as an intern and photo assistant. My first assignments were in fashion and beauty.
What have you enjoyed about Mylio?
It’s just kind of crazy the way Mylio allows you to see your life in pictures over the years and the decades. You go down memory lane. There’s just no other program I’ve ever seen that enables that in the same way.
I’ve always thought it weird to have pictures in a folder with a name and a date. When you do that, you have no connection to what’s in that folder. However, in Mylio, you see a visual representation of the work in the folder. Seeing the organization visually changes everything. Mylio opened a door and helped me start rediscovering work that I forgotten about.
What else have you discovered with Mylio?
There are just so many wonderful things about Mylio, like the Map view of your life, seeing when you were there and what you shot. If I want to go back to a location, I can easily find it with Mylio’s technology.
Sometimes you forget about people you shot, even celebrities. By having the behind-the-scenes photos, you get more sense of where you were, which studio, in what part of Soho in Manhattan. It’s great seeing all that stuff. I can view all those photos in Mylio and see the full story versus looking in a work project folder and only find the photos that made it to post-production. When you discover other things that you’ve forgotten about, that’s kind of magical.
Is there a specific Mylio feature that’s helped you the most?
Face tagging is a big one. I’m working on a book about Aretha Franklin. I put her name in for one picture. Looking through all the images Mylio found with the same face, I found some photos I had forgotten about.
I’ve shot so many photos, and your mind can juggle things together. I find that when I’m using Mylio, I almost can’t stop looking at all the pictures and going deeper to explore and remember. I think that’s kind of cool not just for work, but also for your life photos.
Do you use Mylio for your personal photos?
I use Mylio for everything: work, personal, iPhone, my whole life. Living here in Japan, it’s very common to see people take a picture of their meal. Now I do that same thing a lot. With Mylio, it’s easy to see meals I ate two years ago at the same location. It’s just crazy how you can look at your life — all the times and places you take pictures with your phone (at the gym, on the plane) but don’t think about it. They may seem like silly pictures, but altogether, they show your life.
So you use Mylio like a diary?
I remember where I was the day before the COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic. I was on my last trip from the States. I can see that whole timeline of being in Los Angeles, being in Vegas, flying back to Japan, and seeing there’s a shortage of toilet paper, and me taking pictures of people searching for toilet paper. I have that in photographs. I look back at that and it’s like, ‘Oh my God.’ It’s a diary of your life in pictures.
How do you manage your vast collection?
I just got a brand new computer, the new Mac, and downloaded Mylio. I was shocked how fast it put the 1.6 million pictures on my laptop. It was pretty impressive. I’ve got an old phone, the iPhone 7, and I’m about to upgrade my iPad as well. Mylio is on the devices I take around with me all the time, which is cool.
But 1.6 million photos is a lot!
True, but it’s not even everything. Shooting for all these years, I’ve got an enormous film archive as well. I need to digitize and add it all to Mylio.
How do you back up all your photos?
Because I live in Japan, I’m thinking about taking an NAS (network-attached storage) drive to the States, so I have an extra copy of originals that’s off-site in case anything happens here. I feel safer having pictures not just backed-up in the cloud. I love having my photos stored and accessible in Mylio, where I can easily find and work with them anywhere, on any device, at any time.
Try Mylio for yourself today to discover the experience of seeing your life in pictures.
Nina Pantic is a New York City-based journalist with nearly a decade of experience covering sports and news. She has a keen interest in videography and photography having produced videos and curated photos for both work and fun.