Southwold photographer’s new book looks back at a picture perfect career

Stephen Wolfenden's photo of Southwold Town Council members on the dodgems in 2012.

Stephen Wolfenden's photo of Southwold Town Council members on the dodgems in 2012. - Credit: Archant

As Southwold's leading photographer for more than half a century, Stephen Wolfenden has certainly got an eye for a picture.

Stephen Wolfenden's photo of a playground in Liverpool in 1971.

Stephen Wolfenden's photo of a playground in Liverpool in 1971. - Credit: Archant

And after taking thousands of images in a glittering career, the 68-year-old has gone back through the archives to publish his best work in a new book – and has shared some of his favourite photos.

The Wenhaston resident had actually set out on a career as a trainee navigator in 1965 when he was given a piece of advice by an ex-merchant seaman which would change his life.

'Keep away from the dockside bars, lad,' he told him.

'Get yourself a camera, so you can show your mum the places you've been.'

Stephen Wolfenden's photo of children's camp in Indonesia.

Stephen Wolfenden's photo of children's camp in Indonesia. - Credit: Archant

A friend of Mr Wolfenden's also talked about photography with him.

Mr Wolfenden said seeing an advert for a Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex camera was like 'love at first sight'.

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He bought his first camera – a Yashicamat Twin Lens Reflex camera – for £35 from a cook on the Hector Heron oil tanker, which he was sailing on.

'I took pictures of everything – the crew, the ship, bits of rope, anything that caught my eye,' he explained.

He said watching images being developed under a dim red light using trays and chemicals – very much in the days before digital photography and photo printers – was 'truly magical', adding: 'From that moment on, I knew my life had changed.'

He soon quit the shipping company he was working with, took a room in a friend's flat in London and set out on a career in photography.

'I spent most of my time roaming the streets watching and waiting for pictures to present themselves,' he said.

In those days he topped up his wage working in a camera shop by taking portraits of student actors, before working as a school photographer in Liverpool in the 1970s.

However he eventually became freelance and moved to East Suffolk, where he really began to make his name and published three books with photos of Southwold.

Among his favourite pictures in his new book, Glimpses, published by Olive Tree Publishing and due to be launched on Thursday, are a children's camp in Indonesia in 1967 and a school playground in Liverpool in 1971.

Closer to home, there is a striking image of a bicycle sitting among plants in Ditchingham in 1975 and an amusing scene in 2012, where Southwold town councillors took to the dodgems.

Asked about his passion for photography, Mr Wolfenden said: 'I think it's one of the most profound ways of expressing what you can see.'

Have you take any interesting photos in and around Southwold? Submit your images to www.iwitness24.co.uk