City history in the frame
PHOTOGRAPHER Roy Westlake charts the life of Plymouth through 60 years in his latest show.
On the way the veteran lensman's work also highlights how photography has developed over the decades.
His own story starts with a camera that cost 7.5p in today's currency and continues through to the hi-tech digital world of the South West Image Bank (Swib) photo archive.
"My first camera cost 1s6d from Woolworth's then I went on to a Box Brownie," says Roy, 86.
"My favourites were three Hasselblads, medium format cameras which gave such high quality results that you couldn't get elsewhere [with ordinary cameras]. They were so much fun and easy to use.
"I now use a Nikon D200 which cost £1,500 a few years ago but now you can get cheap cameras that give amazing quality.
"Everybody can take pictures as good as or better than I did with the Hasselblads. And they can take hundreds and not be concerned about the cost or where to keep them."
Even shooting only 12 pictures on a film and editing heavily, over the years he built up a huge collection.
Swib has about 1,000 of those, carefully stored and offering a unique insight into Plymouth's past. Roy never worked as a full-time professional (his day job was with BT) but he still earned a reputation for his skill with a camera.
He has been a member of the Plymouth Camera Club for 40 years. He joined the Royal Photographic Society in the 1960s, later became an associate and remains a member today.
The 60 photographs on display in Swib document the building of the Civic Centre, the visit of the Queen to Plymouth in 1962, when she officially opened the building, and also show everyday life in the South West.
But the march towards digital means that commercial libraries are now returning the photos that he supplied them over many years.
"It is so much more time consuming dealing with prints, negatives and transparencies than it is with digital images.
"I think it is very important that there is Swib. Without them so much history would be thrown out and forgotten."
The exhibition runs until January 30 at Swib, 25 The Parade.