Kwaku Alston has photographed some of the most famous faces in the world—from Hollywood luminaries like Brad Pitt, Will Smith, Viola Davis, Denzel Washington, Robert Downey Jr., and Colin Farrell, to sports stars like Shaquille O’Neal and Jason Collins, to former President Barack Obama. But he is also a master at photographing so-called regular people who live inspiring lives. His portraits have a fresh, unaffected feel, yet they celebrate the extraordinariness of his subjects, striking a balance between contemporary documentary photography and classic celebrity portraiture.

A veteran advertising photographer, Kwaku has also shot ad campaigns for everyone ranging from Coca-Cola to BUTTONS and the History Channel. And he is an accomplished lifestyle photographer, a genre he has avidly pursued through personal projects such as his series “Fatherhood,” which was inspired by the birth of his first child; “Volkslivin,” which comprises photos of vintage Volkswagen buses; and “Venice,” which features spontaneous portraits of people and places he encountered while a longtime resident of the beachside neighborhood.

“I feel it’s important to do projects that matter to me and complement my personal beliefs,” says Kwaku, who is now based in Malibu, California. “If I can use photography to help change the way people view themselves and their relation to the world, then I've done my job. Now that I am a father, it is important to me for my children to see me passionate about doing what I love and making a difference through my art.”