W.D. Smith with camera

About W.D. Smith Commercial Photography

The company, W.D. Smith Commercial Photography, was founded in 1941 by professional photographer and amateur historian, W.D. Smith (1907-1988). It quickly earned the reputation of Fort Worth's finest commercial photography studio with clients such as prominent local businesses, government entities, social clubs, and fraternal organizations. Smith was particularly renowned for his talents in architectural photography, because he had the rare talent of maintaining a correct vertical perspective when capturing the image of a tall building.

In the 1940s, Gordon Smith (1927-2001), W.D.'s son, joined the company after graduating from North Texas Agricultural College (now the University of Texas at Arlington). Gordon was an accomplished pilot, and he was able to combine his love of flying and photography to produce expansive yet detailed aerial photography. In 1955, Gordon won a Gold Award at the Southwestern Photographers Association for his photograph "Curves."

Gordon carried on the business several years after his father's death, and retired when his health began declining. After the business closed, Gordon and his wife negotiated with UT Arlington Library's Special Collections to ensure the negatives of W.D. Smith Commercial Photography had a permanent home.

Portrait of Gordon Smith

About the Negative Collection

In 1998, the University of Texas at Arlington Library acquired the W.D. Smith, Inc., Commercial Photography collection. The collection is comprised of approximately 190,000 photographic negatives dating from the 1940s through the 1980s. The collection also includes negative copies of historic 19th century Texas photographs collected by W.D. Smith over his lifetime.

Altogether, the collection documents the growth and development of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and the North Texas region spanning over 100 years.

About the Digital Collection

The digital collection contains a subset of images representing the work of W.D. Smith Commercial Photography during the 1940s-1950s as well as some historic images from the 1800s. There are 295 items in this collection, each of which was digitized from its original photographic negative or print. To view more digitized negatives from W.D. Smith Commercial Photography, please view the W.D. Smith collection in the ResearchCommons.

Rights Statement and Use

The University of Texas at Arlington is providing access to these items for educational and research purposes only. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. Contact UT Arlington Library Special Collections at 817-272-3392 or spcoref@uta.edu to order prints/scans and to obtain permission for use or reproduction.