Linda Solomon is a world renowned and award-winning photojournalist. Her unique style of photography encompasses her themes by using natural light, illuminating heart and soul. Some of her more radiant famous subjects include Elizabeth Taylor, Tony Bennet, Robert Redford, and Kim Novak, to name a few. Solomon’s photo essays have been featured on World News Tonight, CNN, CBS’s The Early Show, Lifetime Network, and ABC TV’s Good Morning America. She has the rare distinction of having the first one-woman exhibition show in the history of the New York Friars Club.
As a photojournalist, Solomon’s vision extends beyond the lens and in to the real world of animal rescue as well as inspiring children through photography, and educational art programs that she has created. Her It’s A Snap program, in cooperation with Kmart, brought one million cameras to children in schools across the country where the arts have been eliminated. Solomon actively sits on the Board of the Michigan Humane Society and is a firm advocate for animal rescue. Along with her husband Barry, they personally rescued their Terrier, Chance and kitty, Ozzie.
The NY Times best-selling book People We Know, Horses they love was a collaboration between Linda Solomon and her sister and NBC’s Today entertainment correspondent Jill Rappaport, and author Wendy Wilkinson. They combined passion and efforts brought awareness of Pegasus Therapeutic Riding, which helps physically disabled children through the gift of horseback riding.
Animal Fair sat down with Linda Solomon to catch a glimpse into her artful and heartfelt world.
AF: When did you first discover your love and fascination with photography?
LS: I discovered my love with photography as a child. I was given my first camera at five-years-old by my parents and never grew tired of photography. There was always something new to see and capture forever through the camera. I think differently because of my love for photography. [I’m] more appreciative.
AF: You have an award-winning and impressive career as a photojournalist, what do you believe attributes to your success?
LS: I always believed in capturing the soul of anything, looking deeper. Our book, People We know, Horse They Love is special for the readers; it captures the soul of the horse and the connection with the horse. The celebrities and horse people featured in the book express love for their horses sometimes with just the gentlest touch.
I am a natural light photographer and don’t use digital. Using natural light depends on the time of the day and I usually shoot either early morning or later in the day. I shot Robert Redford at his Sundance ranch late, at 5:00pm, which created a soft peachy tone. Natural light photography reveals the heart and soul of anything whether the person, animal or environment. This method separates me as a photographer.
AF: What was the inspiration behind your NY Times best-selling book, People We Know, Horses They Love?
LS: Working with my sister Jill Rappaport was a dream we had over the years, we have always been animal lovers and a project like this had never been done before. We had an absolute ball working co-author Wendy Wilkinson over the two-year duration of the project.
This book has a very important message. The photographs of celebrities with their horses and children express their deep love of horses and the life-long family connection this bond created. When a child establishes a bond with an animal it teaches responsibility. The books shows a side of celebrities without pretense, everything is real and natural. Hilary Duff is in the book, and she started riding when she was 4-years-old.
I was very proud to work with Pegasus Therapeutic Riding, which helps physically disabled and autistic children through the power of horseback riding.
AF: The national educational program you created called, It’s a Snap was a huge success, tell us more about this?
LS: It’s a Snap was developed a few years ago for Kmart, they gave one million cameras to children nationwide to shoot their dreams over a four-year period. Since that time, I’ve created many other programs, including working with Taubman Shopping Centers and Big Brothers & Big Sisters, bringing even more cameras to children. I’ve been on Oprah and Good Morning America promoting these programs that I truly believe in. I’m always working with children, teaching them to enjoy photography while giving them special themes to capture.
AF: Do you have any special techniques of tricks you use when photographing animals?
LS: With animals, you just never know. In my book I capture my kitty suddenly jumping into a box. You have to be ready and shoot candidly, capturing the fleeting moment. The most important tip and beautiful way to photograph a pet is to be on eye level with the pet, on the floor or on the couch. With horses, try to capture the connection, let the horses be who they are, do what’s natural and don’t try to alter the moment. When I work with children I teach them to hold a treat in one hand and the camera in the other hand and the camera in the other hand. Another tip I give the children is to hold the camera vertically or horizontally three feet away from the subject.
AF: Over the span of your career you have photographed many celebrities with their pets, share with us your more entertaining stories.
LS: I loved shooting Dennis Quaid on his Big Sky Ranch in Montana with his Terrier, Clyde, on the saddle with his horse. Having a Terrier, I know they have a mind of their own, and it was so endearing to see little Clyde sitting on the saddle riding!
Kim Novak has a Haflinger horse named Hunka Hunka with long beautiful bangs. He follows the other horses on the trail like a big Golden Retriever, just adorable. This horse has such a personality, he actually rolls over like a dog and you can’t help but want to rub his belly.
AF: How many animals do you have and what is your most loving pet story?
LS: I have two. Chance is a “this and that” 9-year-old Terrier, he’s beyond gorgeous, the Brad Pitt of Terriers, irresistible. I was on TV giving tips on tacking Mother’s Day photos and this gentle little dog on the same show. The Anti-cruelty Foundation in Michigan was trying to find him a good home and I ended up keeping him.
Our 9-year-old kitty, Ozzie, was a personal adoption. The previous owner was moving to London and couldn’t take her so I scooped her up! I’m a staunch believer and supporter of pet adoption. I’m on the Board of the Michigan Humane Society. I’ve worked with them on two greeting cards projects, combining photographs taken by children from the Boys & Girls Club Southern Michigan Pontiac Club and animal rescue. This project generated much publicity for adoption plus what the children were doing with photography, with segments airing on CBS’s The Early Show. So many animal souls can be saved and so desperately need a loving home. In return they give our lives so much beauty.
AF: What are your future plans and project as a photojournalist, humanitarian, and animal enthusiast?
LS: My number one priority will be to work hard to encourage pet adoption from shelters within families with children. Today we are living in uncertain times and I want to relay a message of positive affirmation. A photo I shot for Canyon Ranch of a big dog whispering to a little dog gives a positive message written by Dr Sonya Friedman, “Sharing knowledge is not just a generous act, it’s a moral obligation.” Any message you can give that expresses a beautiful affirmative message, encouraging a smile that uplifts people during these difficult times. My new book, The Key, Unlocking The Wisdom Within, will be uplifting as well, beautiful images to positively change your day.
– Renay Smith