Photographer ·

n. 1966 Leicester, UK.

Based in Medellín, COLOMBIA

Brief Biography in Photography

When I was about 9 years old I was gifted a Kodak Brownie Twin 20 by the father of my then best friend, Julian Trick (RIP). The camera was made of Bakelite and took roll film wrapped-up in paper which came in a wrapper that was like opening a chocolate bar. Julian’s dad, was a psychiatrist who worked in one Northampton’s mental hospitals and whose speciality was treating cocaine addiction. He was also the father of my, at the time, best mate – Julian Trick, RIP. About three years and four rolls of film later I moved onto 35 mm rangefinders Yashica, because I picked one up cheap. And then, influenced by my then best mate (Mark Lucas, RIP), I saved up money from my first job that paid 4 quid a week to buy an SLR (Pentax ME Super). We would go out walking on weekends to creep up on ducks by the riverside and other animals to try and take photos.

The Pentax saw me through the next few years of hitch-hiking around the UK and Europe within the “network” of squats and punk-rock, peace and animal rights direct action, and, of course, my adolescent years*. It went when I was robbed at knifepoint (not for the last time) in the middle of a mini-riot at Notting Hill Carnaval in 1988.

I attended Newport School of Documentary Photography between 1987 and 1989, which was the impulse that allowed me to believe I could do this thing that I loved so much and live by it. My pathway to Newport had indicated two men to whom I am indebted, as they were my first tutors really, the people who would look at my pictures, comment, criticise and encourage me to carry on: Ross Boyd, who managed a photography program documenting Northamptonshire County, for unemployed youths like myself, and Gerry Broughton, a teacher in Leicester College of Higher Education. For ten months I would travel to Leicester on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, setting out daily before dawn to hitch-hike, attend lectures and take photos on the streets and in people’s homes, and then, after dusk, return to Northampton, arriving often late at night.

As of 1989 I have been working as an independent photographer, the best of my work is on this website and blog and really should speak for itself more than prizes, awards, exhibitions and recognitions, of which I have very few. Many of the pictures are unpublished, and fair few were taken on assignment for newspaper, magazine and NGO clients principally.

I continue working on projects, with a emphasis on human rights and environmental rights issues in Colombia and The Americas. I am available for commissions and can be contacted via e-mail: paul@paulmarksmith.com