By Jim Colton

Poet and historian Carl Sandburg once said, “I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way.” I have shared that optimism all my life and have always believed it’s all about the journey and not the destination. No one travels the same path during their lives and careers as anyone else. Hell, when I was in high school, I wanted to be a gym teacher…and then a potter…and went through several iterations of majors in college before settling on Liberal Arts.

Looking back at my career path, I can even see where I doubled back and walked the same path…although with different shoes. I left Newsweek magazine as a senior photo editor for international news in 1988 to head up a news photo agency only to return three years later asNewsweek’s director of photography. Like many things, stepping away from something and getting some distance from it might make you appreciate it more when you come back.

There is also no right path…or wrong path...just your path. And you make corrections to it along the way to make that journey as pleasant and as rewarding as possible. One of my brethren in the industry who has also doubled back on his career path is the new Director of Photography at Sports IllustratedBrad Smith.

In the 1990’s Brad was the Director of Photography at SI for Kids as well as SI Women (which has since folded). Both titles were under the umbrella of Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated Group. In March of this year, after an extended stint as a photo editor at the New York Times, he returned to Sports Illustrated as their DP.

Less than a month into his new role, on deadline day, the Boston Marathon bombing occurred. No stranger to deadlines…in less time than he would have had to produce images for the New York Times, he closed one of the magazines most memorable covers and issues of the year. Eight months into his new role, Smith still describes it as, “I still feel like I won a contest!”

This week, Photo Journal has a conversation with Brad Smith as he talks about his path…that has taken him from a French photo agency to the White House, from Circus magazine to the New York Times…and gives us an inside look on how Sports Illustrated has gone from a weekly magazine to a 24-hour news service that covers the world of sports.

Read the interview here: