My friends and family will tell you that I’ve always been into taking photos. Photography is my way of life. I remember as an 8 year old on my first primary school trip to London, framing Big Ben through the coach window with my Kodak Brownie and learning darkroom skills with my Dad. Throughout my teenager years I enjoyed the buzz of capturing the world around me through the lens of a camera. I learnt darkroom skills at school and shared the results of my photo projects in slide shows to anyone who was willing to watch them with me.
When I should have been studying for my A levels I heard an advert on the radio looking for young people to join a seven week expedition to East Greenland with an organisation called British Exploring. I was so proud to be picked to join seventy other teenagers for what truly was the trip of a lifetime for me. It was the start of my photographic career. Showing my dramatic Arctic landscape slideshows set to music to my expedition sponsors was a spring board for me to sharing images with a wider audience.
Searching for a way to make a commercial venture from my photography whilst selling individual wall art prints I began to think of greetings cards as a kind of platform for my photographs. In the early 1980s cards were becoming a new art form and I found retailers were open to the prospect of stocking my eight card designs. I punned my name with a camera lens and the business ‘Lens Ideas’ which I’d started with Issy my wife was launched.
Nearly 40 years on and every image on our cards is still a "Leonard Smith original." I will literally go to any lengths to get the photographs I think will make greetings cards that bring pleasure and joy to the purchaser and the receiver. I’ll be up before dawn, out past nightfall, freezing cold, lying flat on the ground to get the best angle, harnessed in to the back of a moving car photographing a racing motorbike, or travelling to the corners of our beautiful isles. I love my job!