THERE are not many people who have done the same job for 40 years who can honestly say they still love it, but it’s true of Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian chief photographer Tim Wilson.
Tim (57) celebrates his 40th anniversary with these newspapers today and claims to love his job as much now as he ever did.
For those unfamiliar with him, Tim is a regular sight around the district, usually accompanied by a bulky camera bag. He’s an unassuming chap, the spotlight rarely on him, and he’s probably much more comfortable behind the lens.
He has recorded the joys, sorrows and events that make up the life of south Lincolnshire villages and market towns over those years, never wavering in his commitment to making sure these newspapers are filled with good quality images.
He has covered Royal visits, every Spalding Flower Parade since he joined the papers, and gone above and beyond the call of duty on a number of occasions.
How many people do you know who would stand at the top of a ladder for two hours waiting for badgers to emerge from their sett in Bourne Wood? Or how about the time in the early 1980s when it snowed so hard that the A151 was blocked at Whaplode? Tim abandoned his car and walked to Spalding, taking pictures along the way.
He has climbed to the top of Crowland radar tower to record the huge dishes being removed and has walked out on to The Wash following the tide to photograph the bomb targets and, on another occasion, the seals.
The events that stand out for him tend to be the dramatic occasions, such as the morning he saw smoke as he was on his way to work and was third on the scene of the massive fire at the DSS building in Spalding.
Tim often has to juggle a long list of jobs in a typical working day, dashing from Bourne to Sutton Bridge and back to Bourne again, and he admits he has arrived late on some occasions, just catching people as they were heading out of the door.
His life has been made easier by digital photography, but Tim remembers his first camera was a fully manual, 12-shot roll film version which viewed the image back to front – 35mm came later. When using flash indoors or at night, Tim would see how far away the subject was and take a guess at the right exposure.
Tim recalls that when he started work with the papers, briefly under Les Prudden who then left to start his own photographic business in Spalding, it was in an old corrugated hut in Gore Lane, the remnants of the old Free Press compositor works. The photographic team boiled in summer and froze in winter, heating the smelly darkroom chemicals with an antique pottery bed warmer.
Tim’s constancy extends to his personal life: he and Nicky have been married 35 years and have two children, Robin (22) and Becky (24).
Tim says: “I wouldn’t manage without her. She tirelessly put up with the unsocial hours all through the time our children were growing up, on top of her teaching job.”
Other photographers have come and gone... most recently, Tim worked with Tony Jones, and current colleagues are Mike Davison and Nikki Griffin, and he has worked under seven editors.
However, Tim has stayed put because, as he explains: “I have never been tempted to move away. I have always loved it. It’s a nice place to live – I like the big skies. I never tire of it.
“It can stress you when you have a long list of jobs to get round and you don’t want to miss anything, but people are always pleased to see you, which is one of the big things about the job.
“I have taken pride in recognising and recording what people do in the area. That’s what I find satisfying.”