Professional photographer and cinematographer. Lawrence Smith was born in 1931 in Orland Park, Illinois. Trained as a biochemist, he began a photography career while serving in the army in El Paso, Texas, when he filmed an air show crash and the footage was purchased by the Today Show. In 1958, he accepted a contract with Encyclopedia Britannica to film a series of 160 chemistry lectures at the University of Florida. In 1959, he filmed the Cuban Revolution for CBS-TV and won the first of four Emmys for his work photographing the early days of Fidel Castro’s guerilla forces. He joined Russell-Barton Film Company in Jacksonville, Fla., and worked on a variety of film projects. From 1963-1965 he worked for ABC-TV News on documentaries and as a “camera correspondent” in Vietnam, winning a second Emmy.
He formed various independent film businesses in Jacksonville beginning with Lawrence Smith Productions in 1965. He won two more Emmy award certificates for Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom in 1966 and 1967. He worked under contract for the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), specializing in helicopter photography of Apollo missions 11 through 16, and later covered aspects of the Skylab Program. In 1970, he was an aquanaut in the Dept. of Interior’s Tektite II Underwater Habitat Program in the Virgin Islands. He also filmed a series of thirteen half-hour segments of the ‘Fisherman,’ a television show hosted by Homer Circle, Angling Editor of ‘Sports Afield’ magazine. In much of his work, he used and refined pioneering techniques such as advanced sync sound and underwater high-speed photography.
He expanded into videotape and began his own image library, eventually specializing in transportation. In the 1980s, he often acted as a director and producer of special projects, including work for ABC Leisure Attractions at Weeki Wachee Springs and Silver Springs. He was a creative consultant to major Florida-based corporations: The Clow Corporation, Florida Wire & Cable, and Occidental Chemical Company, among others. He helped design and produce their advertising and reports.
Beginning in the 1990s, he worked primarily for major transportation firms such as Boeing, Union Pacific and CSX, and large airports such as Denver International Airport. He also served as the official photographer for the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) and, as a special project in 1991, was commissioned to produce a series of 24 photographs to form wall-size murals in the baggage area of the new Jacksonville International Airport. The murals depicted the culture, heritage, industry and leisure activities of north Florida. In early 1990, he began work with ‘Traffic World’ magazine, eventually providing the majority of the magazine cover images through 2005. He also worked for Union Switch & Signal and major transportation industry magazines such as ‘Progressive Railroading,’ ‘Railroad Age,’ and ‘Air Commerce.’ Also in the 1990s, he flew in and photographed many military aircraft with the US Navy and was invited aboard several nuclear aircraft carriers as a visiting photographer. In 1997, he served as photography editor of ‘Jacksonville, reflections of excellence,’ a large format book (335 p.) representing the many aspects of the city. He maintained his business and image library until his death in Jacksonville in 2010.
The majority of the images are of the Jacksonville, Fla., region, and represent aircraft and airports, ships, railroads, military bases, and a large number of other subjects and locations in the region. The national transportation advertising examples often use Jacksonville as the setting. U.S. transportation locations such as large airports and railroads are also included along with generic photography subjects such as the seashore, sunsets and tidal wetlands.
The collection includes images of the University of North Florida, including aerial views from 1980 to 1984. In 1986, he donated two images of downtown Jacksonville to the University of North Florida Foundation to be used as incentive gifts for major donors. Entitled ‘Dawn’ and ‘Dusk,’ the views are of the river and surrounding buildings in early light and at sunset. The collection contains all the negatives and slides taken for the project and the promotional material developed by the University.
The collection consists of approximately 55,000 slides, negatives and test prints for the mural project for Jacksonville International Airport, and the following categories:
9 boxes of black and white and color photographs, mounted and unmounted, includes 1 portfolio box and 2 boxes related to the Dawn and Dusk Project
2 boxes of mounted and unmounted advertising images;
6 boxes of print advertising materials featuring Mr. Smith's images;
6 boxes of biographical material representing personal and business activities.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection:
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