Just another easy on the eye site

Sunny Snaps

sunny snaps walking photograph south coast worthing 1930s

Sunny Snaps operated in a number of different locations taking walking pictures. Like Spotlight Photos, the firm is a bit of a mystery and I do not know if they were a franchise or simply a business which opened a number of different towns or suburbs on the south coast, with perhaps one processing lab covering a few locations.
All Sunny Snaps cards are very distinctive, thanks to a panel at the bottom featuring the company name, often with the year the photograph was taken (and sometimes the location, though many of their cards just say “South Coast”). This panel is very distinctive and unique to Sunny Snaps. The little pen and ink sketches usually feature a London landmark and a seaside image; deckchairs, seagulls and the like. There is also space for the negative reference number to be hand-written.
A lot of the Sunny Snaps cards are very good technically too and this together with the nostalgic look of the designs makes them popular with collectors (and perhaps inspired the title of Bradford Media Museum’s exhibition of beach photography a few years ago).
The oldest dated card I have seen is from 1931, the latest 1940. This suggests they set up business as the walking picture craze really took off, but struggled to carry on (as did other walking picture firms) once the war began.
In terms of location, I’ve seen Sunny Snaps cards taken in Worthing, Littlehampton (both places close to one another), Bognor Regis, Hunstanton, Lowestoft and London. The latter location along with the sketches on the coastal cards, suggests they might have had a London headquarters.

sunny snaps walking photograph south coast worthing london littlehampton 1930s
Amongst the cards, several showed the same Sunny Snaps shop in the background (see the 1936 and 1936 cards above). Research shows this to be in Worthing at the bottom end of South Street in Pavillion Parade, a large shopping block (with apartments above) built probably in the 1920s. South Road met the seafront¬† directly opposite Worthing Pier, so the shop – which was also on the corner of an arcade – was easy for everyone to find. It was run by Somers Tobacconist. I do not know if the shop had a processing operation on site or the films were taken elsewhere for developing and printing. The shop also sold films and offered a developing service for customers’ own snaps.
By positioning themselves so close to the shop, cameramen would have been able to tell customers where to go to see the photographs later in the day. Sunny Snaps cameramen also operated in other streets in Worthing which have yet to be identified.
The 1931 image for example shows the corner of a Kodak sign top right, so this may be another Sunny Snaps outlet. I’ve no idea where the 1935 card taken in London was snapped, though it is almost like a clandestine spy photograph. There is a large park across the road so maybe someone can work out where it is. As for the Worthing Sunny Snaps shop, in recent years the sign for the Arcade entrance has been removed, but otherwise the scene is very recognisable in this colour shot taken from roughly the same position over seventy years later.

former sunny snaps shop walking photograph south coast worthing 1930s

My thanks to Paul Godfrey and Colin Harding for the loan of images, others are from our own collection. If you have any cards by this firm or know more about the history do get in touch.

13 responses

  1. Mark Kent

    Brilliant history and information. I have few photos by Sunny Snaps of my relatives (including my grandfather, great grandafther and my great great Uncle) taking the walk with Somers Tabacconist clearly in the background. I wonder if Sunny Snaps kept all the photos they took – I wonder where they would be now.

    June 30, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    • simon robinson

      It seems talking to people who worked in the trade that photos were often only kept for a couple of weeks sometimes, then thrown away. That said, it’s possible some firms kept material for a season in the earlier days. The only example I know of anything surviving was a firm in New York, where 2 million negatives were found after they closed down.

      July 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm

  2. We have a photograph of my grandfather dated 1935 in London and my cousins seem to think it was taken in the Harrow Rd. Would love to post the picture but not sure how to!!

    August 9, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    • simon robinson

      Michelle, easiest way is to send me a scan via email to admin@easyontheeye.net and we can post. Include some details of who is on the photo. Simon

      August 13, 2012 at 6:06 pm

  3. Lin Stewart

    Can we still send scans of Sunny Snaps to the above email?

    January 14, 2013 at 10:38 am

    • simon robinson

      Yes, I’m still happy to see new photographs. Do drop me an email to get details of the best size to scan them at. Simon

      April 3, 2013 at 7:16 pm

  4. LESLEY CHAMBERLAIN

    I HAVE A 1938 SUMMER SNAPS PHOTO OF MOTHER AGED 5

    July 20, 2013 at 2:55 pm

  5. Ann Rush

    I have just been sent a Sunny Snap of my Nan which reminded me that I also had one of my Dad too. Both were taken in Canning Town London probably just prior to WW II. They both have a serial number. Is there a record of these numbers anywhere?

    October 12, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    • simon robinson

      There are no surviving records of these numbers Ann, they were only kept for a season then usually thrown away. If you were able to scan the cards for me or let me borrow them, I might be able to help date them more closely.

      November 6, 2013 at 7:14 pm

      • Lesley Chamberlain

        Can any give me a clue to were this is Thanks Lesley

        On Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 7:14 PM, Go Home On A Postcard wrote:

        > simon robinson commented: “There are no surviving records of these > numbers Ann, they were only kept for a season then usually thrown away. If > you were able to scan the cards for me or let me borrow them, I might be > able to help date them more closely.” >

        November 6, 2013 at 8:18 pm

  6. Andrew Gordon

    Hi Simon, I have found a Sunny Snaps Card in my grandfather’s Album. Unlike these it was a beach shot dated 1937 and hand coloured – but whether by Sunny Snaps or later by one of the family, I don’t know.

    July 13, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    • simon robinson

      Hi Andrew, this sounds interesting. Any chance of seeing the postcard? I have a few of the hand-coloured ones but it’s always hard to tell if ordered at the time or done at home – you could buy kits of special paints to do this.

      July 18, 2014 at 6:57 am

  7. Pingback: tinted by hand | Go Home On A Postcard

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