The stars open up in Jeff Vespa's 'The Art of Discovery'

Photos of stars + life changing moments = Jeff Vespa's new 'The Art of Discovery'

Celebrity photography is all about access, and few people have more than Jeff Vespa.

Vespa co-founded the photo agency website WireImage.com in 2001. He also is the official photographer of the Sundance and Toronto International film festivals.

After more than 15 years of building relationships with many of Hollywood's biggest stars, Vespa is releasing the coffee-table book "The Art of Discovery" (Rizzoli, $45) featuring portraits of more than 100 celebrities along with quotes from each about revelatory moments in their lives.

James Franco's life changed when he first saw "Taxi Driver." Jena Malone found her purpose the first time she saw her mother, who worked two jobs while doing community theater, transformed onstage; Ethan Hawke's world was permanently altered at 18 when he filmed "Dead Poet's Society" with Robin Williams. Maggie Gyllenhaal felt changed after a 75-year-old friend told her, "We squander our hours of pain." The stories go on and on.

"When you're promoting a film, people don't ask you that kind of question," Vespa says. "It can be a very philosophical question, to ask someone about a moment of discovery that impacted their life and changed them. And when you start to think about what that moment was, it really brings up a lot of different ideas and emotions."

Twitter: @jessicagelt

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