Roy Westlake Interview

Transcript of the Interview with Roy Westlake, May 2010, SWiB

SWiB volunteer Jevan Bartlett worked on producing the questions for the interview with grateful assistance from Christine Davis and Julia Escott.


Roy Westlake with Christine Davis & Jevan Bartlett, SWiB, May 2010

Q1) What was your occupation during your lifetime?

I was an Engineer in the Old General Post Office and British Telecom. I then went from an engineer to do clerical work, so that I could take time off work and to pay for travelling around in order to take photographs.

Q2) When was your first book published?

1st published, circa 1973. Three books were published by Bradford Barton.

Q3) How long did it take to get your first book published?

It depended on the contacts!

Q4) How did your photographs become published?

1st one, to be recorded was in 1949, in the Independent newspaper, of Dartmoor. Another was a sleeve cover of Plymouth Sound.

Q5) Did you approach a publisher or did they approach you?

The jacket covers of my books were being used and as a writer/photographer I had a free hand with the books as long as they were interesting.

Q6) How many books have been published in total with your photographs in?

Six books. Another book I helped provide photographs for was a book by Crispin Gill. I had to take a back seat with that, I was not happy with that so I made sure that his name was credited with other work that I did.

Q7) Did you do your own research for the published books or did you have assistance?

All of my own work.

Q8) Have you won any awards for your Photography?

Associateship of Royal Photography. Various Camera Club awards. Cecil Beaton judged another award and presented a cup to me. I still have a signed photograph of Cecil Beaton.

Q9) How did you get in to photography in the first place?

Before the War really. I started with a camera bought in Woolworths when I was about 10 or 11 years old. Woolworth’s slogan ‘nothing over 6d’, so my camera cost 1s.6d. I then bought a Box Brownie. I've used secondhand cameras all my life. The best camera I have used is a Hassleblads.

Q10) How do you decide on what or who to photograph?

I Do not photograph people very much. Exhibition shots for the Camera Club mainly such as Winter in Dartmoor.

Q11) What camera did you begin with?

See question 9.

Q12) Do you have a preference for a particular camera?

Hasselblads, they are easy and professional to use and had a range of lens to use with it. I used it in extreme weather conditions, such as ice and sand.

Q13) What was the first place of interest that you photographs of?

On Dartmoor. I used a Ikont Zeiss, I exchanged a radio for it!

Q14) Do you have a favourite time of the day to take photographs or a favourite season?

First thing in the morning. Spring and Autumn.

Q15) How do you judge when there is a good light?

Any light is good, but again first thing in the morning when there is less breeze and a good reflection on the water.

Q16) Do you have a collection of cameras? Date?

I have sold off all of my cameras, except for what I use now which is a Cannon FDB, 35mm.

Q17) Do you work to a particular theme?

Does not follow any theme.

Q18) Which is your favourite place to take photographs of?

Anywhere really. But I have taken a lot of photographs in the Caribbean, Goa, India, Sri Lanka and from cruise ships. Dartmoor as well.

Other information that Roy offered, was, that during the war there was a shortage of film and paper, which made it difficult to photograph anything.

He did have a Press pass, this allowed him access to buildings to photograph from, he went out in a press boat when Sir Francis Chichester came back into Plymouth. He had a Royalty pass, so that he could photograph the Queen when she came to Plymouth and that one was not allowed to photograph from the front, only from the side.


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