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John 'Smiddy' Smith - The Royal Harbour Photographic Group

Home / Our Community / People of Ramsgate / John 'Smiddy' Smith - The Royal Harbour Photographic Group
How long have you lived in Ramsgate?
Since 2006, moved here from Broadstairs.

Why did you start helping the local community?
I felt that a lot of emphasis in Thanet was on Margate and Ramsgate didn’t get publicity it deserved.  As a photographer I am able to bring the beauty of our town to life for others to see.

So publishing my photos is my way of trying to bring tourism and awareness back to Ramsgate to help boost its economy in any way I can.

What are your earliest memories of Ramsgate?
As a child I used to enjoy the amusements arcade that stretch up marine esplanade. I used to hop on the train at weekends through the summer with friends and spend the day here. Back then, I lived near Canterbury so it was a great day out.

What are your ambitions?
I'd love to one day open a gallery and studio for my photographic work within Ramsgate. Do my bit for the town and help the economy grow not just from the sense of revenue, but awareness that Ramsgate is a beautiful town with much to offer.

What are you currently working on or towards in Ramsgate?
I am currently Chairman and Co Founder of The Royal Harbour Photographic Group. We have a Facebook page under that name and in the last 11 months since we founded, we have gained over 230 members, mostly photographers from Thanet, who contribute with pictures on the page.

We have monthly competitions and occasional exhibitions. We are always looking for locations willing to exhibit the group’s art work. If anyone owns a business and feels they could benefit from hanging our art please get in touch and help more people see our town as we do.

Why did you start this current project?
A chance meeting one evening on Sion Hill overlooking the harbour with Co Founder Linda Ryder brought about the birth of the group. We were both there photographing a movie scene being filmed in the harbour. Our discussions lead us to the question, “Why wasn’t there a photographic group in Ramsgate?” Margate had one after all but it never seemed to take off in Ramsgate.

So we took up the challenge and asked a few local businesses if we could use their premises after hours to meet as a group and discuss photography. We now meet fortnightly at Gerry’s Coffee and Art House. We also meet regularly outside of the scheduled meetings and take photos together locally and on excursions to Kent’s attractions such as Dover Castle, local zoos and wildlife parks etc.

Where did you get the idea from to start this?
Local photographers showed great interest in the idea and things kind of just developed (pardon the pun) from there.

What can Ramsgate look forward to from you in the future?
Lots of art, photographs and exhibitions, as well as coverage of local events and hopefully a shop front from which I will continue to promote our town and its great scenery.

How do you feel your contribution has helped or made a difference to Ramsgate?
I would say the greatest contribution has been the forming of the group, as it has brought together likeminded hobbyists, semi professional and professional photographers to a place where we all share and promote the local town and community. With 230 plus members, we’re growing from strength to strength and our name is fast becoming synonymous with local businesses and media alike.

Where do you see yourself helping the community in a years time?
I’d like to say I hope my work is more recognisable a year from today and that I have in some small way helped put Ramsgate back on the map with my pictures, and injected a bit of romance into the hearts of locals for our town.  It’s a great place to live!

Interview by Dean Williams, Technical Officer
Interview Date: 22nd May 2014