A San Diego Legend Calls It a Career

Photojournalist Dave Smith's career has spanned four and a half decades

NBCUniversal, Inc.

This is one of those days that you celebrate … even though it makes you sad.

One of the most influential figures in the history of San Diego media is retiring. You probably don’t even know his name but there is no doubt you know what he’s done. You’ve seen it thousands upon thousands of times.

NBC 7 photojournalist Dave Smith is retiring.

Through the lens of his camera, Dave has brought you the sports world of America’s Finest City. His career has lasted 44 years and, amazingly in a business that is notoriously transient, he spent them all with the same television station.

If there’s a major event that involves San Diego odds are Dave shot it. He was there for Dan Fouts and the birth of the Air Coryell offense and still around for Marty Ball. He was bringing you video of the World Series in 1984 and 1998. The man was running the camera for the Holy Roller and L.T.’s record-breaking touchdown run. He shot both Randy Jones and Jake Peavy winning Cy Young Awards.

He was there to record Tony Gwynn the Hall of Fame inductee … and Tony Gwynn the Aztec basketball star. He shot Bill Walton’s Clippers career and every single run San Diego State made to the Sweet 16.

Most of us could only dream of that kind of longevity.

Dave has beamed back video from more stadiums and arenas than even exist today. He’s covered enough Olympics, Super Bowls, NBA playoffs, Spring Trainings, college bowl games, Davis Cups, PGA Tour events, and everything in between to fill a hundred lifetimes. I can also guarantee you that no human being on the planet has recorded more press conferences than Dave Smith.

But what really sets Dave apart is the stories he told away from the bright lights of mega-events. Have you seen video of Junior Seau and Reggie Bush in high school? Dave shot it. What about Stephen Strasburg at SDSU? Dave shot it. U.C. San Diego’s women’s basketball team ascending to #1 in the nation? Dave Smith Vision. Lawn bowling tournaments in Balboa Park? Yup, that was Dave. Before she was beating Venus Williams at Wimbledon and Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open, it was Dave who made sure to tell us all about the potential of Cori “Coco” Gauff as a 14-year-old amateur at the National Hardcourt Championships at Barnes Tennis Center.

This man went out and found stories that most of us would never think of then shot them in a way that made us care. He’s a phenomenal story teller and there are no stories he loves telling than ones about his adopted home town. Dave grew up in Colorado (with a short stop in Philadelphia). But when he landed in college at U.C. San Diego he never left again.

Shooting sports video is a very unique talent. Following the speed of the game, especially when the ball gets in the air, is one of the most difficult things to do in sports media (trust me, I’ve tried for 22 years and still don’t have it quite right). I’ve worked with some of the most talented photojournalists in the world, from NFL Films and Major League Baseball and the PGA Tour.

Dave Smith is the best I’ve ever seen.

But more than this, Dave is a leader. When things start to go haywire in a remote location, Dave Smith is the guy you want with you because he’s going to figure it out and make it look good. We might be losing our minds behind the scenes but on the air,  you’d never know because Smitty was there keeping it all together.

The sports team has relied on him to keep us all on track with the events that need covering. The photojournalist team has relied on him to advocate for new equipment. He is the most respected man in the newsroom.

Oh, speaking of the newsroom, we're not even getting into all the breaking news Dave has shot over the years. He's gone from the sidelines to the front lines of wildfires and police chases, showing up in dangerous places to get information that kept people safe.

Dave has meant more to my career … and to my life … than anyone I have ever worked with. I have leaned on him for advice and guidance through tough times professionally and personally and he has been unwavering in his support. He is a mentor. He is a friend.

Dave, on behalf of everyone you ever impacted through your remarkable career, thank you. Enjoy the next chapter in your amazing life.

But, first, could you shoot this one presser at noon …

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