Nationally-renowned professional photographer Rachael Smith, from Stamford, releases debut book 'London Shopfronts'
A professional photographer has spent an eventful year capturing iconic London shops for her debut book.
Rachael Smith, from Stamford, has collaborated with writer Emma J Page to create ‘London Shopfronts’ a photographic book on some of the capital's most iconic stores.
The book took a year to shoot, fitted around her other work as an interiors and portrait photographer, and is already proving popular.
It has earned coverage in London listings and events bible Time Out and sold 1,200 copies within a week of its release.
Seeing her name on a book sleeve realises a long-held ambition.
"It's something that's been on my bucket list for ages - it means a lot," she said.
"When you hold a book in your hand, it makes you realise that all that hard work and all that time was worth it."
Rachael moved to Stamford on an impulse 13 years ago and lives here with her husband Adrian and nine-year-old son Henry, following 15 years in London.
Her break in photography came when she was chosen to feature in an early fly-on-the-wall TV documentary which raised her profile.
She has gone on to have a successful 22-year freelance career, working with the UK’s leading national newspaper supplements and luxury lifestyle magazines, earning commissions to shoot all over the world, from New York to New Zealand.
As well as showcasing impressive architecture and iconic facades, her book is also part-cultural history.
Places featured include Pellicci’s cafe, an apparent haunt of notorious gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray, while Broadway Hair Stylist was where a young Rod Stewart went for a trim.
Yet while Rachael and Emma were busy documenting their past, telling their future is a different story.
"It was a photographer's dream because you are recording history," she added.
"It's a celebration of independent shops, but in 20 years we don't know which of those shops will still be there.
"We don't know what's going to happen to them because of big online companies.
"When you click a button for a massive company you are depriving these small businesses that look after you in their shops. It applies right here in Stamford, too"
Rachael also had to lean on a range of skills away from the camera lens during production.
"I was half-traffic warden, half-photographer," she explained.
"People would park in front of the shops so I became good at negotiating with them to move.
"I would also call friends in London before I set off to check the weather was okay, but by the time I got there it would be raining and you can't shoot when it's raining.
"We were also doing it in the middle of lockdown so it was tricky trying to get the shots because some of the shops were closed."
‘London Shop Fronts’ (Hoxton Mini Press) is available at £22.95 from all good bookshops and Amazon.