Posts in History
What have we done...

atkins final front signage The past 20 years has seen the rise of a new paradigm in photography. This shift to a world of mostly digital data has not been good for the photo lab industry, nor has it been good for professional photographers. Since the mid 1990s we have been wrestling with these changes, and riding a decline in our business, but only addressing it in a superficial way.

In 2013 we took a deep introspective look at where we were with help from a business review from a Federal Government agency charged with assisting small to medium sized manufacturers. Pleasingly so, we passed all of their requirements and was rated as a business with potential. Which when your world is mostly filled with unsatifying financial reports and huddling inside your industry, was a great lift emotionally. We do love what we do, and believe in it, and to have outsiders recognise this was a relief.

Out of this review, we were invited to attend a "customer led innovation" six month long course where the deep naval gazing happened. It was here, under the guidance of Professor Sam Buccolo that we dug down to realise at the core, we run this business because we believe in the power of photographic record. We are in this because we love the photography that marks our world, and we want to help others who feel the same. We run this business for pictures that matter.

We want to connect people with photographers who can capture those critical subjects or moments, we want to help people identify those important pictures from peoples' own collection, we want to help print them to suit their purpose, we want to help people personally archive their pictures for generations.

So what did we do? We built a show room where we demonstrate photographs being used in different places as decor, we have built a room to design albums and collections to tell stories, we have archival storage systems for both digital data and prints. We have build a meeting place for our professional clients where they can come and be inspired and inspire us. We have put our photographic history front and centre in many ways, we are trumpeting as loudly as we can why we are in business, because we believe we are not alone in this affair. People value their own sense of history, and photography is the best way to record it.

The new website is under construction, new pricing is coming to suit the new products and packages. We are making albums on site, we are personalising USB flash drives on site, essentially we are fitting our products and systems around our customers.

So much is happening and there's more to come. We are in this industry for the long term, we love it, we live it and we want to help others, professionals or passionates (or both).

The opening this week was just stage one of our changes. We hope you will talk with us, tell us what you think, what you like, what you need, and come along with us on our journey. Our business,  is about so much more than earning a dollar and we want to build something really strong for our future and yours.

Atkins front signage pro end

Atkins front signage

Atkins Pro shop

Atkins Pro shop

Atkins Retail Shop

Atkins Retail Shop

Atkins staff uniforms

From your Phone Wall

Wedding and From your Phone wall

Importance of projects.

Bill-Gekas-Field Day If you are reading this, I assume you enjoy photography, and their is no greater use for photography than to tell a story.

Sometimes we need to set ourselves a photographic project to give us respite from the grind of our jobs. Sometimes we don't know what to do next, and just need to embark on some kind of journey.

The journey that a project can take you on is always rewarding. Here is a great project that attempts to emulate the light and image style of old master paintings. The photographer has gained an amazing understanding of light and how to apply it to great effect. This is a true learning experience.

The photographic world is better for these having been attempted.

Melbourne photographer Bill Gekas has spent many years emulating the work of old masters and has produced an unrivalled, multi award winning body of work that takes your breath away.

Enjoy these and be inspired.

Paul Atkins

Link to Bill Gekas' gallery

Mick Bradley remembered

  Mick, Lance and Co shooting city streets

Ian North has written this lovely piece about Mick Bradley:

A memory of Mick Such a dear man…to use an overworked term, an Adelaide icon, raincoat flapping like Columbo's, always giving anyone he met the time of day, like the fictional detective a great conversationalist and an astute observer of life—a fact which fed the humanity of his photography. Disheveled yet stylish in appearance Mick was for more than fifteen years a king of Kent Town boulevardiers—or so he seemed—venturing forth from his studio at the back of the Greenaway Art Gallery, close by the Wakefield Press HQ where his wife Vivian ran the front office.

I often encountered him in the neighborhood. As fellow photographers we wasted many a half hour a decade ago abominating the advent of the so-called meta-medium of digital photography, and the associated cavalcade of over-optioned hardware and software threatening death to photography, as we knew it. He favoured simple gear, manually controlled, and cameras with optical viewfinders, not miniature video screens buzzing with extraneous information.

Mick much admired the work of a Sydney friend, the photographer Roger Scott, both fans and practitioners of street photography. It is not surprising that artists gravitated to Mick to document their work, given his sensitivity to the world ‘out there’.

Notwithstanding our jeremiads, however, he knew full well that he needed digital cameras and Photoshop to craft his magnificent magnum opus, the book City Streets: Progressive Adelaide 75 Years On. As a born flâneur Mick was a natural for the job of visually documenting Adelaide’s CBD, complementing text by Lance Campbell. The resultant publication from the Wakefield Press in 2012, one hopes, will provide at least a little comfort to the family of this respected and much loved figure, as an intense, enduring record of a city Mick Bradley loved in return. — Ian North

Emily Daisy Atkins 1918 - 2013

Emily Daisy Atkins The much loved matriarch of the Atkins family passed away recently and we wanted to acknowledge the wonderful love and support she gave to keeping the family so close.  Emily also allowed the business to grow sometimes at the expense of family time.

Emily was the Atkins company's (Wm. G Atkins Pty Ltd) first employee. She was our hand colourist and calligrapher. Before colour printing, an artist like Emily would bring colour to photographs with their hands, paint and a brush. In the 1970s, Emily also pioneered the stripping of photographic emulsion to fuse to canvas to create a painting like photograph.

Emily's son John and daughter-in-law Marilyn are active in the business, and her Grandson Paul is the current Managing Director.

WG Atkins

1936 saw the death of Bill Atkins' boss Tom Walker, leaving him a couple of Contessa Nettle cameras and some debt. He took the business over and turned it into a successful business still thriving today.

Bill became a face everyone new with a nickname mushroom as he kept popping up everywhere to sell photos of their horse winning. To add to his business he started Photoform for the Sunday papers in 1938 and it continued into the next century. Bookmakers also bought photos Photoform photos at the 4 furlong post as well.

When Photofinish cameras were created, he and his son John worked with a firm in Sydney to supply and operate the cameras at the South Australian country meetings.

In the late 1950s’ He started photographing Stallions and Yearlings for Bloodstock Agent David Coles. Every year they would travel all over SA and neighbour States to photograph all the yearlings to be sold that year. The photos were printed in a magazine called The Stock Journal, and supplied to the Breeders for their own promotion.

Being involved in the official side of racing, led he and John to develop a film patrol system to aid the stewards in their decisions. Anything photographic on a racetrack Bill had a finger in, so when TV became popular they developed a closed circuit system in South Australia so punters could look at the odds and view the races.

1970 when Tavel won the Adelaide Cup it was the first time in Australia racetrack photography was done in full colour. The photos were so successful with his son John’s help he changed his operation to full colour overnight.

With the growth of colour photography the companies focus shifted to processing and printing natural colour photos, and the Film Patrol,Video and Photofinish were passed over.

Bill saw his son John’s strength in this area a quickly got out of his way, retiring to Aldinga by the beach. His Grandson, Paul Atkins, now runs the photographic printing business with Computers and Online Services, still with the same goals, deliver a quality product, on time, at all times.

As well as the Matrice award for services to the Thoroughbred Industry, Bill was made a life member of the SAJC and passed away in 2000, leaving a lifetime of racing memories.

John Atkins.

Blast from the past - July 1992 Newsletter
15th. July 1992.

Hi !

It seems as my last newsletter was taken to be negative, goes to show you about attitudes. Several studios rang up and said they were planning their best months this winter. Great news, go for it !

In your private and business life it takes a concerted effort to be successful. Following is a short story that may emphasis that,

A certain Sea Captain and his Chief Engineer argued as to which of them was more important to the ship, (sound familiar). Failing to agree, they resorted to a plan of swapping places.

The Chief ascended to the bridge and the Captain went down into the engine room. After a couple of hours the Captain suddenly appeared on deck covered in oil and soot.

" Chief !" he yelled " You'll have to come down here, I can't make 'er go !"

" Of course you can't " replied the Chief, " We're aground !"

How Adelaide Got Black Caviar.

Black Caviar is the best racehorse in the world, it now has 22 straight wins, a clear record. Consequently, whereever she runs, crowds gather, and these crowds are a sorely needed at decaying racedays. Those that were there to witness Black Caviar winning her 20th straight in Adelaide said they had not seen crowds like that since the 1970s.

Early March 2012, the Melbourne racing clubs began inventing races to get Black Caviar out on show. They were making them up because Autralia had run out of Group 1 races for the season. You can also imagine this sparked up competition from Sydney and Brisbane to have her run there. There was serious competition over a very scarce resource (familiar?).

The eastern states were throwing money at Black Caviar's trainier Peter Moody and Peter went silent trying to focus on the routine of a trainer what is best for this special horse.

South Australia's Brenton Wilkinson thought he had a chance to get Black Caviar in Adelaide for the 20th record attempt, the rest of South Australia wasn't so optimistic, particularly the South Australian Jockey Club as it knows it cannot afford what the eastern states were offering.

In the end, SA got Black Caviar...So how did we beat the big hitters in the east...?

Black Caviar's trainer Peter Moody was under a lot of pressure to make a decision, he had to weigh up prize money, well being of the horse and exposure. Peter went silent, at one point he even hung up on the SAJC's Brenton Wilkinson. But Brenton knew his mark, Peter is an old-school pub lad, he likes a laugh with mates, drink and smoke and doesn't want to be pushed into anything.

Brenton knew what Peter liked to smoke what his favourite beer was, so he sent a carton of B&H Mild and a carton of XXXX to the trainer's hotel room. It had the effect intended, the horse came to Adelaide.

Brenton knew he was fighting beyond his weight, he knew he could not win playing the big money game. Brenton's actions proved that money is not always the driver, relationships are critical, and knowing your client is everything.

We live in a great era for knowing your clients. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ all make it easy to maintain contact with a large group of people at many levels. However it is important to remember the emphasis must be on 'relationships', a two way connection. It is not enough to have lots of on-line 'friends' that you broadcast to.

What social network do you use? Ask yourself what one your clients use. You need to be where they are. At present Facebook holds the lionshare, but there are many professionals on Twitter and Linkedin. Google+ is definetly on the rise, but the real network to watch is Pinterest.

Pinterest's rise is stellar, if you do not have a presence there now, you will soon. It is designed for creative visual people, it garnered a bad reputation with it's copyrite stance, but with a little investigation you discover the most networks enable copyrite abuse, just being online with your images risks your copyrite.

Many businesses use the social networks to broadcast only, and the results are not dissimilar to other forms of direct marketing...poor. Consider this, you get great results from your campaign, you drive lots of traffic to your website, then what. How do you transfer the traffic into sales?

Broadcasting can work well to build an audience, you can use it to enhance your reputation as a 'source' of good information, hence someone to 'follow'. But building relationships, which is what builds fans, needs two way exchanges.

The real benefit of social networks is to be able to directly relate with more people in your day than would be possible by meeting or phoning.

Most importantly, relationships are hard to fake, so you'd better like what you are doing and who you are doing it with. Guaranteed, this tactic will help you win against the big opposition as it did for Brenton Wilkinson and our SAJC when he secured Black Caviar's run in Adelaide.

The Black Caviar story was orignially relayed by Terry Hann of Atkins Racing Photography, Craig Cook of the News Ltd supplied me with the details of the story as it appeared in the Advertiser April 7th 2012.

The Smiling Victorians

I stumbled on (or perhaps Tumblr-ed upon) across a Flickr group dedicated to collecting images of smiling Victorians. It is filled with typical cabinet cards and tin-types of formally dressed folks posed, but surprisingly they are smiling. I am so used to the dour, serious and stern looks the majority of photos from those early years of photography brought us. These took me by surprise. In my mind I had associated a somber sobriety to that era.

We know that it was an era of strict morals and formal rituals, but in my naievety I had assumed either they were just plain sad or disliked posing for photos. Which of course is a lack of thinking by me, and I assume, others.

We know the low sensitivity of the early 'film' meant sitters had to hold their expressions for several minutes, and an impassionate face is easier to hold.

I had suspended reality because of photography.

It was so enlightiening to see Victorians full of life with smiles and hugs, clearly enjoying their life and friends. It is worth spending time on that Flickr site, it is rewriting history.

So as photographers, how will you write history? If you print or if your digital files magically last, this legacy of photographs will be not only our memories, but it will go to form the understanding of our social fabric.

Paul Atkins.

Link to Flickr group "The Smiling Victorians":

A good example of a smiling Victorian:

A slice of history.

Please enjoy this little film which may explain a few things! This was made in the early 1960s when our primary focus was photographing horse racing with both motion and stills. Enjoy!