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End frame: Trump Tower, Manhattan by Roger Arnall

Martin Smith chooses one of his favourite images

Martin Smith

Martin Smith combined his passion for photography with a successful career in the financial services industry for many years. In 2005 he committed himself to the art of photography.

Although he has worked in six continents and more than sixty countries, he is best known for his work closer to home. Late at night and early in the morning, he records London and its ever-changing skyline - a capital in a dynamic period in history. Prior to the global pandemic he also spent much of his time photographing other world cities, an activity on hold for the foreseeable future. Especially in these circumstances he considers himself fortunate to have London on his doorstep.

In 2018 the Master Photographers Association awarded Martin a Fellowship for his 'Colours of London' portfolio - the first time a fellowship has ever been granted for a collection of London images.


When Charlotte asked me to write this article my first thought was had she approached the right person? After all, I am no student of photography and these days rarely shoot natural world landscapes. But reading the brief again and seeing urban images were in scope, doubts were banished.

Photography is not just my passion, it's a way of life. When I jumped off the corporate ladder, I committed to achieving success in the world of photography too. In the early days of learning my craft (do we ever stop?) landscape tours and workshops was the order of the day. I enjoyed the subjects enormously but a few years later my head was turned by two themes: the American Road and Olympic London. They took me in a new direction from which I have seldom looked back. Today I describe myself as an urban / cityscape photographer who makes big prints of London and other world cities for UK and international clients.

We all see hundreds of images every day and most aren’t even worth a second glance. Favourite images don’t easily spring to mind so how would I go about choosing one? My approach would be to firstly identify a photographer who inspires and influences me then delve into their work. In the photographic world, inspirers make me think, and influencers make me do something different. I considered a handful of photographers mainly comprising masters I have had the pleasure of learning from. Nine such photographers fall into a few groups.

Great UK Landscape Photographers: The work of Charlie Waite and David Ward immediately came to mind. Both of these esteemed photographers and their work were important to me in my early days. Had I written this article a decade ago I would probably have referenced one of their images. I discovered the work of Joe Cornish and Tony Spencer much later but also including them in this category is essential. I decided not to select an image from any of these four gentlemen as our contact is less frequent these days and therefore their influence is less than it was.

Visual storytellers: I admire the work of Gregory Crewdston and Julia Fullerton – Batten. Both create amazing portraits, often in landscape settings but their work is outside the scope of this article as it is people led.

Architectural and urban photographers: Julia Anna Gosporodou creates quite brilliant photographic artwork featuring the world’s architecture and urban landscapes. Luca Campigotto makes spectacular images of New York, Shanghai, other world cities and more. Both photographers create wonderful images in styles that influence me today and several could have been chosen here.

But instead, I want to draw your attention to the work of my good friend and sometimes mentor Roger Arnall. Roger is an Australian photographer who will be known personally to many readers. We first crossed paths on a 'light and land' tour twelve years ago, and have travelled together many times since. I have selected his work because more than any other photographer he has the most direct bearing on my image making today. The acid test being the invaluable advice and guidance he gave me during a tricky multi city commission last year.

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