Douglas Darian Smith was born in Adelaide in 1900. His father died when he was just 5 years old and his mother returned to Europe to sort out her affairs, leaving her sons in the care of a Dr Hamilton. When his mother had failed to return after 2 years, Douglas and his brother were placed in the St Vincent de Paul Orphanage in Goodwood.
Smith served with the AIF in the First World War and while he was overseas he trained in photography at the Regent Street Polytechnic in London. He took his first aerial photographs while flying with Sir Ross Smith in his Vickers Vimy.
After discharging from the AIF in December 1919, Smith returned to Adelaide, married Ellen Brodie and established his own photographic business in the 1920s. He published a book of his aerial photographs of Adelaide and had his work published in a variety of magazines.
He regularly photographed social and sporting events for magazines and did photography work for local businesses including General Motors-Holden.
In 1960 Smith received honorary life membership of the Professional Photographer’s Association of South Australia and in 1979 he received both an honorary fellowship of the Institute of Australian Photographers and the commonwealth medal for services to professional photography from the Australian Photographic Society.
Unfortunately Smith’s sight began to fail in the 1980s and he made his last aerial photography flight in 1981. He died in South Australia in 1984.
One of Smith’s commercial clients was soap and candle-making business W.H. Burford & Sons Ltd, founded in Adelaide in 1840. A large fire destroyed the company’s factory in Sturt St, Adelaide in 1919. This prompted the construction of a new factory in the northern Adelaide suburb of Dry Creek, opening in 1923. Smith was hired to photograph the factory and its workers, highlighting the “modern” factory and its processes.