Toby Smith Photographer 2014-12-18T14:43:51Z WordPress tobysmithphoto <![CDATA[XMAS Newsletter 2014]]> 2014-12-18T14:43:51Z 2014-12-18T14:43:11Z


In August I travelled East with the Unknown Fields Division, to Vietnam, China and beyond. We traced the supply chain of the world’s consumer products across the South China Sea down cargo routes and inland to their production. Ahead of the main body of documentary work from our field trip we want to share this festive video which reveals exactly how and where all the santa hats, decorations and disposable tat really comes from…

Yiwu in China is not only home to the world’s largest wholesale commodity market but also many of the “Just in Time” factories that produce seasonal or trending products.  Christmas consumables are finished in summer ready for wholesale, packaging and shipping to principally western markets.


Saturday, March 22, 201, 22:04 UTC.  A searing flash of magnesium bleaches the night as 2 solid rocket motors and a Vulcan engine lift 780 tonnes of rocket towards the heavens. 4 seconds later at 4km away the ground shook and the air reverberated. I was stood behind my tripod tracking the launch in HD on a 600mm lens with another camera snapping stills at 12 FPS on a 200mm lens clamped to a brick wall. My fingers and toes were crossed hoping that 3 remote cameras had sprung into life on timers capturing the same scene at wide angle!

This exciting evening was the conclusion of the first stage of ‘Geosynchronous Satellites.’
A project whereby I traced the narrative of commercial satellites from their design and construction through to international transportation and space-launch. The project is to be published as a collection of still images and an exclusive short film featuring UHD video, time-lapse, custom animated graphics and overlays.


I collaborated with with Thomas Hole on a new website with new editorial functionality including video embeds, print sales, social media integration and importantly a redesigned and integrated map gallery.  “HS2 – Walk the Line” can now be browsed in its entirety above a Google Map base-layer with both captions and the rail-route displayed.


Following on from our 2013 trip to Madagascar I was once again invited by the Unknown Fields Division to collaborate on an experimental field-trip . We began with a cargo-ship voyage across the South China Sea before heading inland into Northern China. Treading a familiar path to my 2009 project on ‘China’s Energy Pioneers‘, we focussed on deconstructing the supply chain behind consumer electronics right back to their mineral source and toxic by-products.


I’ve moved further towards full multimedia output in 2014. 4K cameras and professional sound give clarity, bite and realism to subjects whilst animation can add extra context to subjects. I’m also proud to welcome Brian and Chloe to the team.  Together we’ve ramped-up production quality on location and sped-up delivery of new projects from the editing desk.  We were immediately put the test last month on a commission in Bangladesh to document how hospital ships bring healthcare to the isolated, migratory communities of the Northern Delta.

We’re all looking forwards to getting our teeth into new projects in 2015 but until then we leave you with this tranquil bit of “Slow Television” from The South China Sea.  Full 4K video at 4280 pixels wide, 24 frames per second and 93 minutes long without a single dropped frame.

Kind Regards

Toby Smith


Image 1 – Xmas Unwrapped in a Chinese factory near Yiwu.
Image 2 – Ariane 5 with its payload of 2 satellites launches from French Guiana.
Image 3 – SES-6, a communications satellite, undergoes testing in Toulouse.
Image 4 – Screengrab of -> HS2 – Walk the Line.
Image 5 – The bridge of the Maersk Gunhilde container ship.
Image 6 – Coal Mine, undisclosed location, China.
Image 7 – The South China Sea in 4K

tobysmithphoto <![CDATA[UHD and 4K Upgrade]]> 2014-12-18T11:19:37Z 2014-12-18T11:19:00Z I’ve enjoyed and naturally moved towards full multimedia in 2014. 4K cameras and professional sound give clarity, bite and realism to subjects. I’m also very proud to welcome Brian and Chloe to the team here.  Together we’ve ramped-up production quality on-set and sped-up turn around back in the editing studio.  Testing both the new camera and editing workflow has been a crucial part of the last 2 months. The first example video is a montage of over 78,000 5D Mk3 RAW files, processed groomed and edited to create a stunning day to night sequence in 4K.  The camera was fitted with a 17mm TS Lens and mounted in a custom solar powered marine housing.

We also worked on a much more delicate 4K real-time film. 93 minutes, 4280 px wide, 24 FPS and all uploaded onto youtube as a 125 GB film without a single frame lost. We’re looking forwards to 2015 and leave you with this tranquil outro as our second example…

tobysmithphoto <![CDATA[Victoria Station Upgrade]]> 2014-12-17T10:29:48Z 2014-12-17T08:42:06Z This December marks 3 years since I began recording the progress of the Victoria Station Upgrade in Central London.

Visiting the site every month I provide both site progress photography but also images for press and communications for TFL,  the VSU team and Taylow Woodrow.

It’s been incredible seeing the engineering challenges and logistics behind such a major project. All happening within and underneath one of London’s busiest transport hubs. A selection of the images are soon to be featured on Victoria Line Tube platforms to show the works taking place behind the hoardings.

We also got a tweet out of Number 10 Downing Street this morning which can’t be a bad marker of success..

tobysmithphoto <![CDATA[Sealand]]> 2014-12-16T18:30:40Z 2014-12-16T14:40:28Z The Principality of Sealand is an unrecognised self-declared state (or micronation) located on a British-built platform in the North Sea. Its mass consists of HM Fort Roughs, a former Second World War Maunsell Sea Fort, off the coast ofSuffolkEnglandUnited Kingdom.

While it has been described as the world’s smallest country, or the world’s smallest nation,  Sealand is not recognised by any established sovereign state, although Sealand’s government claims it has been de facto recognised by the United Kingdom and Germany.

In February 2013 I was privileged enough to visit Sealand with Michael Bates and his son on assignment for the Sunday Times Magazine.  A fascinating day of Photography and Video…

]]> 0 admin <![CDATA[Nigerian Truckers]]> 2014-12-11T16:18:02Z 2013-11-20T15:27:53Z

Last month I had the amazing opportunity to spend 6 days in Lagos, Nigeria, on assignment. The main body of work is embargoed and won’t be released for a few months. In the mean-time here’s some portraits I took of some Nigerian Truckers when I had 30 minutes down-time.   There is such an amazing diversity of tribes and backgrounds within Nigeria represented by this single queue of driver’s waiting patiently to receive their cargo.

LAGOS, NIGERIA – NOVEMBER 5TH, 2012: Truck drivers from across the 32 Nigerian states wait patiently to fill their trailers with fuel at a tank farm in the port of Lagos. Despite being the world’s fifth largest producer of crude oil Nigeria lacks refineries and as such has volatile availability and prices of oil products. (Photo by Toby Smith/Reportage by Getty Images)







tobysmithphoto <![CDATA[Curve by Getty Images]]> 2014-12-16T12:12:03Z 2013-10-11T16:32:46Z In 2013 I was interviewed by Getty Images and this biopic interview piece was released. It cover the creative and commercial overlap of my Renewables Project shot in Scotland.

The Renewables Project photographed in Scotland was completed through partnership with Scottish and Southern Energy. The project was undertaken in the harsh winter of 2010, with Smith living and working from his converted 4×4 expedition vehicle. Much of the work is shot on large format film with night exposures lasting many hours.  Many of the sites were installed and continue to operate in the manner to which they were constructed in a gargantuan post-war labour effort. A living, breathing example of British heavy engineering at its finest that now unwittingly forms a crucial percentage of the larger sustainable energy portfolio of Britain.

The project was supported financially and exclusive access granted by Scottish Southern Energy (SSE) in 2010. Toby Smith worked closely with the communication and operations teams to research and safely access appropriate sites for the project based on aesthetic, scientific, cultural and historical significance.

Ross Easton, part of the Corporate Affairs team at SSE, explained: “We commissioned Toby to capture a selection of our renewable energy projects – from wind farms to hydroelectric power stations. The result was some stunning photography which showed off Scotland’s natural beauty mixed with the majestic beauty of our hydroelectric schemes and wind farms. We have used these photos in a range of corporate communications, both internally and externally. The stunning photograph of an engineer working on top of a wind turbine was featured on the front cover of our 2012 Annual Report.”

admin <![CDATA[Cinematic Showreel]]> 2014-08-27T10:03:58Z 2012-09-04T11:59:37Z

Cinematic Showreel from Toby Smith on Vimeo.

A cinematic show-reel combining footage shot over the last 3 years of my career. Many of the clips echo my large format compositions and were captured during personal projects or assignments across the world.

Locations include Scotland, England, China, India and Madagascar. Music is “The Great Drive By” by Funki Porcini and is licensed from Ninja Tune (UK) whilst the edit and grade was done by Daren Nair here in London.

Please contact me for any further information on the projects, assignments or indeed licensing of existing footage. Technically the work is either Time Lapse or HD Video captured on a Canon 5d Mkii.

admin <![CDATA[Broadcast Showreel]]> 2014-12-11T17:02:36Z 2012-09-04T11:53:35Z

Broadcast Showreel – All from Toby Smith on Vimeo.

admin <![CDATA[Busy Month in the Media]]> 2014-07-01T16:07:14Z 2012-07-24T15:46:35Z So I finally bit the bullet and bought myself an iPad. (Groan). I concluded rapidly that it is useless for “doing” anything but for “viewing” content the screen and ergonomics work very well. Certain media providers;  Intelligent Life, Guardian, Sunday Times, WIRED, BJP  (to name but a few) have made genuinely browse-able and interactive content. I was particular excited when browsing through National Geographic (August Issue)  to spot a feature image I was commissioned for back in February. A wild-goose chase into the secretive world of second hand phone booths led us to an architectural grave-yard full chock-fill of 100’s of the old K-9 model.  Gallons of hot-tea and kilos of human sand-bags led to a great shot that I am very proud of:

I had to hide behind the sofa with fear last night as I made another appearance on TV. This year I was selected to compete in the BBC2 series “Show me the Monet”. The name sets the standard of the jokes but this masks the brutal nature of the TV program. A panel of judges, the hanging committee, vote on a piece of your artwork and its potential inclusion at prestigious show at the Mall Galleries, London. I was (un)fortunate enough to be voted through into the exhibition and to sell my piece of work, Ratcliffe on Soar, above list price.

I’m also really pleased to be selling prints of my Olympic Park project exclusively through Eyestorm. Their Creative Director, Angie Davey,  has written a really nice introduction that responds to my own essay on the project. Both the 5×4 and X-Pan shots are available for collectors.


admin <![CDATA[Lecture at Cambridge University.]]> 2014-07-01T16:17:11Z 2012-05-14T14:14:58Z  

2 weeks ago, I delivered a 2 hour seminar at The Conservation Leadership MPhil at Cambridge. I entitled the lecture ” The Relationship between Media, Audience and NGO’s.

As I am currently researching and developing ideas for my next personal project I feel it important to brainstorm and network outside the box. It is also essential to constantly evaluate the relationships between my Photography and Media outlets so that I may better partner with story material or organisations.  The constant need to monetise my photography and indeed career is sometimes very frustrating. Therefore it was refreshing and inspiring to justify the time and reason to research and  actually read material beyond photography and visual debate.

The group at Cambridge represented a fantastic breadth of knowledge and importantly experience in the practical front-line of conservation issues globally. It was a privilege that my experiences in media was the basis of a seminar and an asset to them. I’ve listed below a selection of the media and research links that came up in conservation. Much of the discussion from both sides was quite critical so probably best I don’t repeat too much of it here..


Photographic Resources and Introduction


Media (Photography) Resources


Environmental Media Resources    (Paywalled)

Alternative Funding


Globally Popular Environmental Photographers of Note

(not exhaustive!!)


NGO’s Featured in the Lecture