Snaps – Bridlington
Snaps enjoyed a period of some 40 years taking pictures of people strolling around the East coast resort of Bridlington. Here is a short history of the firm, and links to an exhibition on the images are given at the bottom of the page.
Photographer William Foster Brigham, a fellow of the Royal Photography Society, opened an upmarket portrait studio on The Promenade in the town around the turn of the last century. To tap into the general tourist trade he then opened a second studio overlooking Bridlington Harbour at 18 Prince Street in 1919 (and possibly buying out an existing rival photography business carried on across the road in doing so).
Snaps, as the new business was named, was a general photographic shop offering all manner of services, including ‘developing and printing’, ‘enlarging for amateurs’ and prints ready by the next day. The shop also sold cameras, film and plates.
Snaps pushed Walking Pictures during the summer months, with the results displayed in glass fronted cabinets at the side of the building the next day. “Photos by Mr. Snaps Are Down These Steps” read a large hand-painted sign at the corner of the shop. People could make a note of the print number and buy in the shop.
Every attempt was made to ensure the Snaps building was as eye-catching as possible, via signs above and below the windows, in huge letters painted on the end gable wall and even across the roof. A big ‘Snaps’ sign in illuminated flashing bulbs lit up the building after dusk. To complete the advertising, their catchy slogan, “Go home on a postcard”, was displayed on the side of the building.
Their walking pictures all had the Snaps name printed on the back, and they used Kodak Walking Picture paper supplied in boxes of 1,000 sheets. We assume Kodak undertook to print the backs to Snaps’ requirements. All images were postcard size (see top image) until after the war, when Snaps moved to a smaller print (see image above). These carried the company name and date on the front. The quality was less good and suggests a move to smaller format cameras. Unlike some walking pictures, nearly all the Snaps subjects seem to be aware of their photograph about to be taken.
As well as the walking images, Snaps photographers also took informal photographs of people sitting on benches, setting off on fishing trips, aboard pleasure boats and at local events. In the 1950s one of the Snaps cameramen had a pet monkey to attract attention and be seen in photographs, but after it bit a customer it was retired!
Foster Brigham died in 1968 and the business seems to have disappeared with him, though the shop remained as Snaps for another decade or so. A film processing service still operated from the shop in the 1970s, but the work was sub-contracted. The premises were occupied by a remainder book dealer until 2010.
On an off-chance I popped into the shop and asked if anyone knew about the former business. The owner was in and kindly took me on a tour of the old building, and I was astonished to find fittings from the old 1920s darkrooms still about. With his kind permission I returned some weeks later to scour the building from top to bottom and managed to salvage a few bits and pieces.
During 2011 there was an exhibition on Snaps Walking Pictures being held at Sewerby Hall near Bridlington. This has now ended. For an online version of the exhibition use the links below:
The list of image details shows thumbnails of the images and gives other information.
The colour photograph below shows the Snaps building from the right in 2010. The building was sold in early 2011 and has been taken over by the John Bull confectionary makers next door.