Walking Pictures on film

Most people will remember the name of Pathe, who provided newsreels for UK cinemas for many years. They also did topical stories, and even had a go at short films. It was to this area of their output that Colin Harding at Bradford Media Museum directed my attention.
Pathe produced a whole series of short films under the Dave and Dusty name; Dave being a small boy and Dusty his pet dog. The theme was simple – Dave sees a grown-up doing something interesting, and then has a go himself, with the dog roped in to help.
Two films in the series feature Walking Pictures. In both, Dave spots a Walking Picture photographer at work, then has a go at earning some pocket money doing the same with his Box Brownie. Needless to say it’s a rare glimpse into the Walking Picture photographer’s art. Although both feature static photography, the basic set-up in both is very similar to that used by Walking Picture guys. Both films are obviously very much staged and the banter is a bit wooden but perhaps not far off the patter they might have used.

Brighton Holiday Snaps
walking pictures cameraman Brighton 1947
This film has a photographer snapping people on a felt donkey, using a large plate camera. This is the sort of equipment many pre-war walkie cameramen used. You can also see the dockets ready to be handed out to customers. In the background we can clearly see the kiosk for the firm Brighton Holiday Snaps, with the display board on the left. I don’t know if this was an actual firm, though it seems unlikely Pathe would have mocked it all up just for a five minute short. The film was released in June 1948.

walking pictures cameraman Brighton 1947
walking pictures cameraman London 1947
The second short again features a street cameraman trying to persuade people to pose for a portrait, rather than just snapping them walking. I don’t recognise the camera being used. It was issued in January 1947, so probably filmed the year before.

Paul Godfrey says that the camera is an Aptus. It was launched in 1913, and still on sale in the 1950s. What’s interesting is that the camera took Ferrotypes or Tin Types as they are sometimes called (especially in America). These were small portraits on a thin sheet of tin, usually supplied in a card mount. Once taken the plate was developed in a small tank under the camera, washed and dried and sold to the customer. By the time of this film such technology was indeed very old fashioned.

walking pictures cameraman London 1947

I trawled through all Pathe’s seaside newsreels in the hopes of finding some documentary footage of Walking Picture photographers but only found two brief glimpses in one. This was a topical newsreel documenting a day at Margate in 1954, so probably features guys from Sunbeam, a company documented on this site. Anyhow, worth going through for a bit of nostalgia!

SEASIDE DAY – British Pathe.

The links here are provided by Pathe and will take you through to the films on their site, which you can watch for free.

9 responses

  1. michael Delahunty

    Wonderful pictures, I have a picture taken of my Dad in 1947 by Sunny Snaps in Kilburn, a treasure of a young man starting out in life.

    February 17, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    • simon robinson

      Sounds nice Michael, let me know if you can scan it for us!

      March 13, 2014 at 5:35 pm

  2. Ian Roberts

    I have a sunny snaps postcard of my Grandfather And Grandmother walking along the Arun in Littlehampton in August 1938. Doing a little research I found a postcard of the Arun in 1934 and looking closely it is possible to make out what looks pretty much like a photographer; unlikely the same that took the picture of my grandparents four years later, but quite interesting all the same. Would you like me to send the images?

    May 6, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    • simon robinson

      Would love to see the material Ian, you can get in touch direct using the details on the CONTACT page.

      May 17, 2014 at 8:17 am

      • Ian Roberts

        Simon, I’m not sure how to use the contact page. Could I send the images to you by email?

        Ian Roberts

        May 19, 2014 at 2:33 pm

  3. I have a photo with Walking pictures stamped on the back and coronation 1937 taken in Lyme Regis of my great Grandparents, fascinating to read this site, my Uncle actually recreated the photo with his wife many years later. I thought it was just a family thing not something everyone did.

    February 28, 2018 at 2:33 pm

  4. John Mellerio

    Unfortunately the links to the Pathe films (Seaside Day, etc) do not work. “File not foud” Has pathe cleared out old stuff?

    October 27, 2019 at 8:18 am

    • simon robinson

      I’m not certain John, I will have a look, they may just have moved things.

      October 30, 2019 at 10:59 am

    • simon robinson

      I have checked and Pathe have done some work on their site which broke the links. I have now put the new ones into the article. Thanks for letting me know. Simon

      October 30, 2019 at 11:10 am

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