Photographers Index

Smith, Richard Henry, 1907-1967, photographer

Gender: Male
Active Dates: circa 1926 - circa 1967
Active Area: North and Central America (continent)
Canada (nation)
New Brunswick (province)
Nova Scotia (province)
Fredericton (inhabited place)
Prince Edward Island (province)
Sackville (inhabited place)
Amherst (inhabited place)
Likenesses: None found.
Photographs: See list of photographs
Publications: Maxwell, Lillian (1951), 'Round New Brunswick roads', Toronto: Ryerson. (Some of Smith's photographs were used to illustrate this publication).
Related Entries: None found.
Richard Henry Smith was a commercial photographer active in eastern Canada from the mid-1920's to his death in 1967. He was born in Buckingham Bridge, England on 4 July 1907, the son of photographer Edgar P. Smith (fl. 1880-1945) who moved to Sackville, New Brunswick in 1911 to purchase the R.S Pridham Photography Studio. Edgar Smith had apprenticed under E.W Histed (1862-1947) of London, and opened his own studio in Buckingham in 1905. Richard Smith, and his younger brother Ronald, grew into the family business, first Richard as the photographer (around 1926) and later Ronald (around 1930) in the dark room.

In 1931, the Smiths purchased the firm of Olaf B. Hanson, also of Sackville, and operated under the name of Edgar P. Smith and Sons, Photographic Artists. Their business was a family collaboration from start to end. The Smiths were the first professional photographers in Maritime Canada to invest in enlarging equipment. They were also early adherents of the exclusive use of flash photography for portraiture. Both Edgar and Richard's works were successfully exhibited in Britain and Europe, and an exhibition toured North America in 1939. They won various awards for their work. Among the personal works of Richard, his views of the Tantramar Marshes stand out. The style was described in 1939 by the national magazine 'Saturday Night' as 'Maritime Pastorale', an approach to the region as a subject that has proven less timeless and popular than marine and coastal views. For this reason, perhaps, their work is undeservedly forgotten today, overshadowed by such artists as Wallace R. MacAskill (Nova Scotia, 1890-1956) who worked almost exclusively in marine photography. Perhaps the Smiths' most lasting contribution was their role in the founding of the Maritime Professional Photographer Association (MPPA). Edgar Smith was a demonstrator-salesman for the Candian Kodak Company for twenty years (1926-1946). In this role, he met and got to know - perhaps uniquely at the time - all of the professional photographers in the region. At the suggestion of Saint John photographer Harold Climo, the Smiths organized and hosted the first meeting of the Association in August 1933. The MPPA still continues to this day. Through the influence of C.C. Avard, editor and publisher of the 'Maritime Advocate', a regional monthly magazine based in Sackville, Richard Smith obtained a standing commission from the Government of New Brunswick as the unofficial photographer for the province (mid-1930's to about 1960). For a short time, he also held a similar position for Prince Edward Island. This work, ranging from official portraits to tourism promotions, allowed him to traverse the province in the name of photography. His output was enormous yet he was relatively unknown, as virtually all the commissioned work was published anonymously. He sold his personal works through the studio, and of course local portraiture, including that for graduating students of Mount Allison University, provided the substantial portion of the business. The Smiths also purchased the Amherst branch of Pridham Studio in 1928 and Richard removed there in his final years. He was predeceased by his wife Lucie in December 1966. Richard died just three months later in March 1967. The couple had no children. In 1984, the Cumberland County Museum in Amherst convened an exhibition of some 44 of Smith's works, featuring 35 works by Richard and the remainder by his father.

[With thanks to Jeffrey Ward, Halifax, Nova Scotia, for providing this information].
Sources: Latta, Peter (1984), 'Developing a view: the Smith Studios 1911-1967', [S.l]: Cumberland County Museum.
'Sackville Tribune', 29 June 1931.
Government of Nova Scotia vital statistics, death certificate of Richard Henry Smith.

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