Splash prepares to make some ripples on this side of the pond

By Dominic Ponsford

A news agency that made its name selling pictures taken in the US to London tabloids is planning to start doing the reverse.

Splash, the showbiz picture agency founded in 1989 by British journalist Kevin Smith, has opened a London bureau. The Clerkenwell operation will initially concentrate on providing UK sales back-up for existing offices in Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver.

But Smith said he planned to further expand later in the year, taking on photographers and reporters to start syndicating London stories and pictures back across the Atlantic.

He told Press Gazette: “The whole world looks to London to find out what’s happening in the world of showbiz. It was getting ridiculous that we are an English company, staffed with Brits selling mainly to the British press but having no offices in London. News editors were having to wait until 2.30pm to talk to us when we had woken up.

“Now they can call Splash first thing in the morning, get us on to a story and consider it done. We can work out the travel arrangements in London so that when reporters wake up we can have it all sorted.”

Splash, owned by Smith and business partner Gary Morgan, has benefited from the boom in celebrity-based news and pictures and employs 34 staff, predominantly British.

“American photographers and reporters work differently from Brits,” said Smith. “We still lead the way and the world really does look to London to see what’s a good story.”

He said further expansion of Splash in the UK was likely. “We are not trying to be the Starbucks of agencies with offices everywhere, but we are trying to create a 24-hour service by being in London, New York and Los Angeles.”

Heading the new office is Rob Henderson, formerly of Big Pictures. Jenny Duval, previously at All Action, is in charge of the photographic department. Tom Hall, from Kent News and Pictures, and Raj Valleys, from the agency Big Brother, are photographic assistants.

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