These (more often than not) postcard sized photographs generally known as ‘walking pictures’ (or ‘walkies’) were taken in towns and holiday resorts at least as far back as the 1920s and through to the 1970s. The photographers would take snaps of people ‘on spec’ then hand them a receipt. The people could then turn up at the kiosk later on to get a print, and order extra copies if they wanted.
There is rightly a lot of interest in ‘found’ photographs and snapshots, which often offer a more interesting and revealing look at our history than professional or portrait images. Yet even people’s own snaps are posed to some degree. It is only with the walking pictures that we get beyond this awareness of the lens and see people going about their everyday business.
What makes the images fascinating is that the majority are unposed, the photograph having already been taken by the time the subject had time to react to what was going on (as shown in this example, taken on a wintery day in one of our cities). As such they really are a snapshot of the times, as well as giving us a unique glimpse of the fashions and streetscapes of the day.
Although walking pictures were popular across many countries, the material here concentrates on those taken in Great Britain and has grown out of research for a book on the subject. Hopefully the images and information will help other collectors, as well as family history researchers and people wondering about similar images in their family albums.
We are always interested in seeing similar images, and can be contacted through the site (please do not send unsolicited scans).