About me

Alan Smith
photographer, film maker and writer

Alan portrait

I am probably best described as a documentary photographer and film maker – I shoot what is in front of my camera. While many of my photographs are of wildlife, I also take landscapes, cityscapes and anything else that takes my fancy (or that I’m commissioned to take). I am particularly fond of images showing unusual behaviour or interesting shapes and/or colours.

As a film maker, my work is concentrated on medical training videos for academic institutions and short films to help small charities with their fundraising.

I have been awarded in several photography competitions, most recently winning the Hidden Britain category in the British Wildlife Photography Awards in 2019.

I am an amateur because I do not earn my living from photography but I aim to produce work of professional quality.

My work

My images and words have appeared in print and online around the world (some of these are listed on my publications page or below the images in the Photo Gallery).

Some of my images are available to purchase in a variety of formats (you can see genuine photos of them hanging on walls here – no simulations). Contact me through my social media pages if you would like to know more. (I will be publishing a price list in due course.)

I am a former professional broadcast film maker and journalist who has worked as a producer/director, camera person and editor. I am also a teacher with many years’ classroom experience under my belt.

My kit

My photographic journey started at the age of 12 when I obtained a Kodak Instamatic 25 camera using coupons from a breakfast cereal company. The shutter release was so stiff that nearly every image featured (un)intentional camera movement long before that technique became fashionable, so I upgraded to an Instamatic 33 the following year, also purchased with coupons.

I was fortunate that my school had a darkroom where I learnt to develop and print black and white photos. The experience I gained then has stood me in good stead in the era of digital processing.

When I wanted to take anything other than record shots during my student days, I borrowed other people’s cameras.

It was only after graduating from university that I was able to buy my first SLR, a Yashica FR1, and start to take my photography seriously. Later I upgraded to an Olympus OM2, a much lighter camera that was easier to lug around on trips.

The OM2 was a great camera but would go through batteries very quickly. This in the end precipitated my move to Canon equipment; unable to find replacement batteries when the OM2 died on one trip, I bought an EOS 300 kit which was on offer in a local supermarket.

Over the years I have owned a number of compact cameras that I carried with we when travelling for work. These have now been superseded by the camera in my phone.

I decided to stick with Canon when I moved from film to digital. My current cameras are an EOS M5 that I won in a competition and an EOS R that I bought after the best camera I ever owned, an EOS 5D Mark IV, was stolen while I was on a filming trip to Kenya.

In the past I used Tamron lenses. Initially this was because they had interchangeable mounts for different camera systems but I remained with the brand after they changed to permanent mounts. I changed over to Canon in 2016 because they are more robust and handle the abuse that I subject them to better than the Tamrons.

I mainly use the Mark I EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens, often combined with a Mark III EF 1.4x extender, and the Mark II EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lenses. For macro photography I use EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro attached to the M5. I also use a EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS and the standard EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 lens that came with the M5.

Potted personal history

I am an Irishman, born in India and living in England. I am married with adult children, some of whom have children of their own.

A graduate in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, my first postgraduate job was working in a university, researching into the electrical stimulation of human muscles. When the funding for that dried up I moved to the BBC, initially as an engineer but then became a film and videotape editor.

In my 25 years in broadcasting I also worked as a journalist and film producer/director. The BBC trained me as a camera operator, too, although that particular skill was never used in anger for the BBC it proved useful elsewhere. I worked in news and current affairs, covering stories from all over the world, including conflicts in Europe and Africa.

During this time I helped found a charity that supports a small hospital in a remote part of rural Uganda. I am still involved with the charity as a trustee and Safeguarding Officer.

I left the BBC to become a physics teacher in state secondary schools (11-18 year old students). After more than a decade of teaching I decided to retire so that I could spend more time with my camera.

Retirement keeps being interrupted by requests to help schools out but when I get a chance I love going wildlife watching in Africa. Living in a country with few large animals and no large carnivores, this is always a special time.

Content is protected. Right-click function is disabled.