||The Wilkins Photographic Studio, Warrnambool, Victoria, was in existence for over thirty five years, but the senior Wilkins, Alex, was interested in photography many years prior to this. His first recollection of practical photography was when he was given a square Brownie on his 12th birthday, and proceeded to process his films in the bathroom-darkroom.
In his early teens Alex took over the developing and printing processing for a local chemist, eventually branching out on his own and taking in other chemists’ work and some press photography on the side.
Alex spent a brief period away from commercial photography and worked in the insurance field, with the advent of the depression years Alex decided to take the plunge and opened a studio over a Greek restaurant. The aroma of fish and chips and sulphide toner was certainly an interesting combination!
In 1934 Alex took advantage of an opportunity to move to larger premises and it was here that he really established a connection with the public. The studio provided sufficient room to take wedding photos with ample space for darkrooms and work areas and even a small reception room. Any accident insurance inspector would have been horrified had he looked at the portion of the shop behind the reception counter. Close examination would have seen a gaping hole with steps descending to a huge concrete workroom cellar which had to be circumnavigated or jumped across when attending to customers. The absence of any calamity can be attributed not so much to good luck but to the athletic ability of the staff.
During the occupation of this studio, Alex married a local lass, and Myrtle entered the business and helped with reception and art work. In 1938 they purchased the studio of photographer Arthur Jordan. The new premises housed one of the largest camera rooms in Victoria, and was enhanced by the natural light from the skylight roof of 65’x 20’. This was the golden age of photography, when people went overboard with their orders for prints.
1961 saw major changes to the business. Alex sold the premises, dropped the retail and developing and printing processing businesses and established the family unit in a smaller basement studio. He also added another string to his bow when he started shooting film for the local TV channel. In the last years of Wilkins Studios the business moved to the family home in Warrnambool .Unfortunately Alex died in 1972 after a short illness His son John and extended family member Jean Felstead continued to finish all the previously booked weddings for the next couple of years. Alex Wilkins studios are still remembered as an integral part in the history of the district.