Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Douglas Darian Smith (1900–1984)

by Jenny Scott

This article was published:

Douglas Darian Smith (1900–1984), photographer, was born on 4 May 1900 in North Adelaide, youngest of three sons of Alfred Frederick Smith, medical practitioner, and his wife Edith Mary, née Steere, both from Northern Ireland. Douglas’s father died in 1905, leaving Edith with little income to support her two surviving sons. In a bid to sort out her affairs she returned to Europe, leaving the boys in the care of a Dr Hamilton. When she had not come back after two years their guardian placed them in the St Vincent de Paul Orphanage, Goodwood.

On 30 July 1917 Douglas enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, putting his age up by a year and claiming that he was a motor mechanic and that both his parents were dead; he named his brother as next of kin. On 28 August he was discharged as medically unfit but after two months of home service he successfully re-enlisted on 7 November and was allocated to the Australian Army Medical Corps, still claiming to have been born in 1899 and now stating that he was a clerk. He sailed for Europe in July 1918, returning in November 1919. While in England he trained in photography at the Regent Street Polytechnic. He flew with (Sir) Ross Smith in his Vickers Vimy and took his first aerial photographs.

Discharged from the AIF in December 1919, Smith worked for G. & R. Wills Co., Adelaide, to 1926. On 7 July 1926 at St Laurence’s Catholic Church, North Adelaide, he married Eileen Margaret Brodie. They settled at Glen Osmond and he established his own photographic business. In March 1931 Australian Homes and Gardens published his aerial photographs of Port Noarlunga and in April 1932 one of Adelaide. The same year his book Adelaide, South Australia From the Air was published. During the early 1930s he dropped his first name in favour of Darian, thereafter professionally using the name D. Darian Smith. He regularly photographed social and sporting events for South Australian Homes and Gardens and other magazines, and for local businesses, including General Motors-Holden’s Ltd. His output was diverse but increasingly he was recognised for his aerial photography. In 1939 he moved his family to a purpose-built studio and home in Barnard Street, North Adelaide.

Actively promoting professional photography, Darian Smith was a member of the Professional Photographers’ Association of South Australia, representing it on the national association, which awarded him honorary life membership in 1960. In 1967 the Institute of Australian Photographers granted him an honorary fellowship and in 1979 the Australian Photographic Society awarded him its Commonwealth medal for services to professional photography.

Smith, whose sight was failing, made his final flight on 27 November 1981. Survived by his wife and their son and daughter, he died on 14 August 1984 and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 8 Aug 1981, p 1

  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 16 Aug 1984, p 18

  • J. Edwards, interview with Pamela Savage (typescript, 2004, SLSA)

  • J. Dodds diaries, 1975-2007 (SLSA)

  • B2455, item SMITH D D (National Archives of Australia)

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Jenny Scott, 'Smith, Douglas Darian (1900–1984)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 5 March 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (Melbourne University Press), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Darian Smith, c1945

Darian Smith, c1945

State Library of South Australia, 46124

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Smith, D. Darian

4 May, 1900
North Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


14 August, 1984 (aged 84)
South Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.