Gray Malin is a celebrated fine art photographer, known for dreamy, eye-popping pictures from all corners of the world. Among his books are the New York Times bestsellers Beaches, Escape, and Italy.
Fortune recently spoke with Malin, who shared details about the inspiration for his new book published this week, A World of Opposites (Abrams), an unintentionally appropriate title for a work published while the world feels upside down.
This new book includes photography from Antarctica to Africa, with each spread featuring a pair of photos that are clear opposites. Shot with specifically kid readers in mind, the photos are meant to appeal to satisfy readers’ sense of imagination.
The following interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Fortune: Your new photography book, A World of Opposites, is intended for children. How do you hope your photos inspire readers of all ages?
Malin: As soon as you open this book it is clear that all ages can enjoy the subject matter. The photos explore the far opposites of the world, and they are as beautiful as ever, spread across the pages of the book. I really wanted readers to focus on discovering a new perspective of the world and appreciating all it has to offer, which is something I think that we can all enjoy.
In turn, what inspired you to develop A World of Opposites? What was the planning and research process like, and where did you travel to shoot the artwork?
The collection of photographs shown in the book are all images from various fine-art series I have photographed over the past 10 years. I carefully curated the images for this book in order to serve the aesthetic, interactive, and educational purpose that I desired. I developed the book as a spin on the classic opposites books, wanting kids to enjoy this book not only in terms of learning their opposites but also for them to learn about the vastly different locations of the world as they enjoy the pictures.
There are very few photographic kids books in the marketplace—most are traditionally illustrated. And as photography becomes more and more prominent in children’s lives thanks to the smartphone, I believe A World of Opposites will be more special to young readers.
So many of your photographs and coffee table books inspire wanderlust. Normally, that would be a good thing. But while the pandemic continues and so many travel plans have to be put on hold indefinitely, travel photography might inspire mixed feelings. What would you hope your readers get out of your books right now?
I think this is exactly why we need travel books right now, especially for kids. I wanted this book to be educational and entertaining, allowing parents and children to experience learning about the world together. Most of my work centers around bringing destinations from all over the world into peoples home and whether they buy my art for nostalgic reasons, to inspire dreams and adventures for the future, or just merely because it is beautiful and different from any place they’ve seen before, I think it is important to continue showing people the world.
So much of your job and your work revolves around travel. What have you been working on while at home over the last several weeks? How are you keeping busy?
Honestly, I’ve really appreciated having this time to spend with my family. My twins are 17 months, and keep us laughing and running literally all day. While at home, I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about ways to keep my brand relevant for our customers while they’re at home as well. This first manifested as fun ideas such as downloadable travel Zoom backgrounds, coloring pages, and dreamy phone backgrounds all available for free.
However, my creative energy also has sparked a whole new world of video content. I started filming three weekly IGTV (Instagram Television) shows to try and interact with my audience in a new way. One show is called More Than a Photograph: The Stories of Gray Malin, and each 10-minute episode details the story of my career from the very beginning while also exposing the stories behind some of my most beloved images.
Another show is called How I Got the Shot, and each sixty second episode takes you behind the scenes to see that ultimately what you see in my photographs is real, not photoshop. The last show is a weekly invitation on Saturday morning into my home (or a part of my personal life) which I have not exposed before. I have found that this video content has really engaged my audience in a much deeper way, not only with my creative process, but also with my entrepreneurial journey.
And one last question, going back to the bit about wanderlust: When shelter-in-place mandates are lifted and things shift back to normal, where do you want to travel first?
I find myself dreaming of South Africa. That will be high on my list.
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