A few months ago, my family and I made the three-hour trek down to NYC to be photographed by world renowned photographer Ben Baker. This fall he started working on a project that highlights multiracial families (like mine!) and their positive impact on our nation. We met Ben Baker at his studio in Chinatown. He was very friendly from the moment we met him. He told us a bit about his homeland, Australia, and his past photoshoots. It was all so cool! We even got to sit on the same stool that former president, Obama, sat on when his portrait was taken by Ben!
Ben Baker was born in Adelaide, Australia. He currently lives in Chinatown in New York City. He is an Australian and American portrait photographer. He has photographed many people, including presidents Obama, Trump, Clinton and Bush, and huge entertainers like Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga, and Tony Bennett.
As a child he grew up traveling with his dad around the Outback. Ben grew up near Alberton Oval, where his dad exposed him to sports while his mom introduced him to the arts. This is how his inspiration for art grew. He did well in art class in school, which led him to apply to TAFE (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_and_Further_Education), to study photography. Unfortunately, he was rejected. However, he didn’t give up on his dream. He ended up being able to work with some local photographers that took him under their wings.
Ben’s plan was to travel to South America and Britain to further his career, but when he ran out of money at the age of twenty-three, he found himself in New York City! As Ben would put it, “luck” would lead him to become the assistant of the legendary photographer, Annie Leibovitz. Before he knew it, his work was showcased in New York Magazine, Fortune. It was Fortune that gave him his big break to photograph the 2008 presidential candidates. This eventually led to famous portraits of the Obamas for Barak’s second term. When the weather forced him to improvise this monumental photoshoot, Ben reflected and said, “I love these moments – they’re incredibly stressful, the thrill of the chase, but sometimes the best moments are when you can walk away knowing you have succeeded.” And on taking big chances in photography Ben says, “It’s a dance, but the crazy part is I know the steps.” Ben’s adaptability to stressful situations and personable disposition has opened many doors!
You might come across his several projects featured on his website.
Ben is also in a biracial marriage. While Ben photographed Obama’s top economic advisers at the Treasury Department, he met his future wife, Marti Adams Baker. Marti Adams Baker, a Spellman alum, formerly worked as a deputy communications director for Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York. At the age of 30, in 2014, Marti Adams Baker was featured in Mary Claire Magazine, being quoted about her success, “The first thing I do each morning is grab my BlackBerry to check for breaking news. I definitely had those early mornings when my hair is still wet and I’m getting a phone call from the mayor. I have to read everything before I see him.” But before coming to City Hall, Marti Adams Baker was deputy press secretary for Michelle Obama, and in the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Marti is a force to be reckoned with!
Ben and Marti Baker are a true biracial power couple which we are honored to highlight for their contributions to our nation! We admire the work Ben is putting forth to highlight multiracial families in our nation. Can’t wait to see the finished product! He is taking on the political, entertainment and current event scene one portrait at a time!
-Madelyn Rempel, Project RACE Kids President