Pete Smith

It was mid sixties London. I was a young art student and part time roady with Alexis Korner when his friend John Mayall asked, “Pete, you’ve got a camera, come and shoot our record sleeve”. The Album was “Crusade”; my first job as a music photographer. A few months later I worked with John again. This time on “Bare Wires”. My passion for music and photography lead to a string of album and touring assignments. Through the following decades I shot dozens of album covers many of which I also designed and art directed. Some of the earlier ones are still to be seen as reissues on CD and vinyl.

I was born and educated in Norfolk. After a short spell at art school in Norwich I found a place studying painting and print making at The City and Guilds School of Art in Kennington, London. By the mid 60s camera and darkroom replaced pencil and paints, record sleeves become the canvas, music festivals my domain. An overland journey to India in the early 1970s led to an exhibition at The Photographers Gallery London. Music and then theatre remained the core input to my photography and portraiture. Film was added through a long association with The NFT covering The Guardian Lectures, events and film festivals. The 90s saw a resurgence of my music photography; stage sets of The Stones during the Steele Wheels tour, and The Wall in Berlin.

The National Portrait Gallery have acquired a few of my pictures. My portrait of Angus McBean accompanied a recent retrospective of that photographer at The NPG. From the start of my photographic career I was encouraged and inspired by my friend and photographic mentor Lewis Morley, creator of the iconic Christine Keeler/Chair photograph.