The Photography of Robert L. Smith – Buffalo Bills

a view from the lens
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I first began to appreciate the photography of Robert L. Smith, when I picked up his book, A View Through the Lens of Robert L. Smith, 1960-1995.  The book covers Smith’s first 35 years as the Buffalo Bills team photographer, and is absolutely loaded with wonderful images from Ralph Wilson’s original AFL team.

Smith, whose first job with the Bills was to shoot the team’s press photos in 1960, has shot some of the game’s greatest names over the years, from Kemp and Gilchrist to Kelly and Reed, and hundreds in-between.  Among his most popular works are “The Hit Heard Round the World,” a perfectly-timed shot of Mike Stratton’s legendary hit on Keith Lincoln in the 1964 AFL Championship Game, and “Football Ballet,” in which Paul Costa makes an overhead catch of a Kemp pass that fell just beyond the hands of an outstretched Patriots defender.

Now Robert L. Smith is making his beautiful and historic photography available to the public, and at a VERY inexpensive price!  Mr. Smith has set up an ebay store (found HERE) through which he sells prints from his many years covering the Buffalo Bills.  This is a really rare opportunity, as fans can now search through hundreds of historic football prints, and purchase directly from the photographer.

I recently purchased a group of photos from Mr. Smith, and will most certainly be back for more.  If you like what you see at his EBAY STORE and decide to make a purchase, tell him that you learned about his photos on Tales from the American Football League!

jack kemp

Jack Kemp

jack kemp & lou saban

Jack Kemp & Lou Saban

jack kemp

Jack Kemp

cookie gilchrist & jack kemp

Cookie Gilchrist & Jack Kemp

cookie gilchrist

Cookie Gilchrist – 1964 AFL Championship Game

cookie gilchrist

Daryle Lamonica, Cookie Gilchrist, Billy Shaw

cookie gilchrist

Cookie Gilchrist

cookie gilchrist & dick hudson

Cookie Gilchrist & Dick Hudson

tom sestak

Tom Sestak

tom sestak

Tom Sestak attempts to block a pass

tom sestak

Tom Sestak

1965 buffalo bills

1965 Bills Team

keith lincoln & mike stratton

 Keith Lincoln & Mike Stratton – “The Hit Heard Round the World”


(click to view more photos)

Todd Tobias (790 Posts)

Todd Tobias's interest in the American Football League began in 1998, when he wrote my master's thesis about Sid Gillman. He created this site to educate and entertain football fans with the stories of the American Football League, 1960-1969. You can follow Todd and get more AFL history on Twitter @TalesfromtheAFL.

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11 Responses to The Photography of Robert L. Smith – Buffalo Bills

  1. John Brett says:

    Great Bills pictures. Thanks Todd!

  2. Harold Dean Trulear says:

    Jack Kemp, a favorite during and after playing days. I had the privilege of serving with him when we were both connected to athe Templeton Honors College at Eastern University. A real leader!

  3. Mike Dugan says:

    The Kemp photo with his elbow in the bucket of ice is from the preseason game in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1966 won by the Bills over Houston 28-16 in front of 14,000.

  4. Jeff says:

    Hey Todd, Thanks for the photos, and for the info on the E-bay store. Think I’ll go shopping now.

  5. The fourth picture down: Cookie Gilchrist taking the handoff in the snow ! ! ! Hard to top that one.

    I’m guessing that shot is from the 1964 season finale in Boston, where the 11-2 Bills beat the 10-2-1 Patriots to earn the right to host the AFL Championship Game against the Chargers.

    • Jeff says:

      Would that be the game where Cookie knocked out one of the Patriots DB’s and on his way back to the huddle legendarily asked the Patriots “which one of you is next”. Yes, I edited his actual statement.

  6. Tom Fischer says:

    I was 10 years old and watched the ’64 Bills /Chargers game and my heart broke when Keith Lincoln got crunched. The Chargers never were in the game after that. I was and still am a big Dallas Texans/ K.C. Chiefs fan. Hey, I remember watching the ’62 championship game between the Texans /Oilers when Tommy Brooker kicked the field goal in overtime to win it. That is one of my earliest and clear recollections I have. I loved Abner Haynes. The Chargers were so talented while the Bills always seemed ready for a street fight. I couldn’t stand them but, boy, you had to respect and fear them. I just found this blog about two hours ago and we are gonna have some fun with this baby. Long live the AFL!!!!

  7. Todd,

    I just wanted to thank you for your post about my work. I was the Bills photographer for 42 years. It still amazes me that the fans are as interested today as 50 years ago. I would be happy to help your followers any way I can relive the days of the AFL.

    Bob Smith

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