In 1959, freelance photographer Reece Winstone FRPS showed 2000 photographs of Old Bristol, many collected from the early days of photography, at the Royal West of England Academy, filling two main galleries. It was a revelation. For the first time, Bristolians saw their city clearly rather than clouded by their own personal memories, seeing what had come before and what had been lost. Winstone’s Bristol As It Was books gave birth to a new genre of published photography, adopted across the world.
By 1966 Winstone’s earlier work in creating a commercial country-wide photo-library of ‘Beautiful Britain’ consisted of 36,000 of his own photographs. Bristol & Somerset: Vanishing Lives is an exhibition and catalogue produced by Winstone’s son, John, who has selected 150 of some 7,000 photographs depicting urban and rural locations within the two counties of Bristol and Somerset.
From 1930 to the mid-1960s, life changed immeasurably for almost all, both culturally and in terms of expectations. Bristol & Somerset: Vanishing Lives illustrates a major shift in British life; even the practice of photography saw radical developments.