About William Smedley-Aston

William Smedley Aston was born in Witton, Birmingham, in 1868. He was a famous amateur photographer who displayed landscapes and figures at national and international exhibitions, and contributed to the photographic press and other magazines.

He was an associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and his practice, W.S. Aston & Co, was based at 45 Newhall Street. Although Aston was an accountant by profession, he took up photography in 1892. His first photograph, much to his astonishment, won an award. After "a single course of view-taking of the summer holiday type", as he described it, Aston resolved not to photograph indiscriminately, but to carefully choose his subjects - his motto, apparently, was "to expose little and to think much".

Though only an amateur photographer, he won over one hundred awards and at the Birmingham exhibition of 1900 he won the Challenge Cup outright for the best work in the three previous exhibitions. The highlight of his career was the exhibition of a one-man show at the Royal Photographic Society, London, 1902. Other notable work included his execution of the "King John" souvenir for Mr. Beerbohm Tree.

He gave up exhibiting in 1906, partly because his public work increased and partly because he married [Irene Ida, daughter of Mr. F.E. Lewis of Handsworth] that year, but he continued photography all through his life. The subjects changed to his houses and gardens, his wife and children - landscapes hardly featured at all. From 1900 to 1906 he was President of Erdington and District Photographic Society.