Tales Of A Celebrity Photographer

Sam Jones has had more access to Hollywood's hottest stars than most paparazzo could ever dream of.

For someone who never even wanted to take the required photography course at Cal State Fullerton, he certainly has come a long way. After college, Jones worked at the Los Angeles Times where he fell in with the art form.

"It just connected with me," he told The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith. "The first time I went in the dark room and printed something, I just for the first time wanted to work on something hard rather than just, you know, playing."

Now an acclaimed celebrity photographer, Jones has compiled many of his favorite shots into a book called, "The Here and Now." The book includes photos of George Clooney, Matt Damon, Anna Nicole Smith and Elle McPherson and behind all of them, there is a story.

On of his favorite photos is the one he took of Steve Martin. Jones wanted to express the idea that Martin successfully avoided comic clichés throughout his career. He photographed Martin traipsing through a formidable pile of banana peels.

"I wish I had a film camera that day because he got out there and he started running through the whole street and dancing and spinning around," Jones said.

Jones and Clooney enjoy a unique relationship. He placed the Oscar winner's photos at the front of the book and Clooney also graces the cover.

"This picture that's on the cover of the book was the first time I photographed him and that's probably the most serious he ever was with me," Jones said. "He is a comedian at heart and he's a practical joker. Something clicked between my pictures of him and our relationship. I don't ask him to do too much, so he ends up doing a whole bunch …Throughout his life, he's just been the goofball with movie star looks."

Jones says his technique for making celebrities come out of their shells is simple: he acts like a clown, hoping they will, too.

"I think you can't have too much of an ego when you go in and you also can't ask people to do too much," he said.

Jones took a picture of comedian of the moment, Steve Carell, and set it in an ugly family room with bad décor from the 1960s or 1970s. Carell wore a hideous plaid suit.

"The wardrobe stylist came up with a plaid handkerchief. I said 'Oh, no, that's over the top,' " Jones said. "And he looked at us and he said, 'Oh, yeah, I think that's going to ruin the subtlety of the suit.'"

Jones took a photograph of Chris Rock where he was actually suspended in air, wrangling a fire hose. He got the idea from a 1920s photo of a firefighter who shot himself up in the air with the pressure of the hose.

Before he photographed Rene Zellweger, he did meticulous research and found out that she has a secret passion for the singer John Mellencamp. He photographed Elle McPherson at seven-months pregnant and Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles.

Jack Nicholson was one of Jones's triumphs: He was able to get the coolest guy in Hollywood to mug for the camera.

"Sometimes the idea is to kind of pretend you're going to follow all the parameters and then you develop a little relationship," Jones said, showing off his Nicholson photo. "That was on his way to the car at the end of the shoot, and I just kept shooting, and he said 'Oh, you like my dancing.' "

For more on Sam Jones, visit his Web site.