End of an era as Montrose photographic legend closes the shutters

Neil Werninck was pictured having retired as a professional photographer. The premises where neil worked from will now be sold, having continously been a photographers business spanning seven diferent  photographers since 1884.

Neil Werninck was pictured having retired as a professional photographer. The premises where neil worked from will now be sold, having continously been a photographers business spanning seven diferent photographers since 1884.

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then that number must be huge for one retiring Montrose photographer who has taken millions of photographs of local life.

On Saturday, Neil Werninck - who owns Van Werninck’s studio at 143 Murray Street - closed his doors and went into semi-retirement after selling his shop.

Uniquely, 143 Murray Street has been home to seven photographers’ studios since 1884, and Neil’s business has had the longest tenure.

His late father, Robert (Bob) Werninck, acquired the studio in June 1953 from Walter Tooke and it has been in the family since.

However, Neil did not start off as a professional photographer. He left school to join the RAF as an aircraft engineer and served in the Middle East, Kenya, Aden and finished his career at RAF Leuchars in the late 1960s, working on the English Elecrtic Lightning jets stationed there.

It was at that point he went into business with his father and trained as a photographer.

Neil said: “While most of the local photographers today mainly cover wedding and portrait photography, I have covered a variety of subjects from the early days of the oil industry when I photographed offshore in the North Sea, industrial and commercial photography including aerial photography.

“I have personally photographed over 1500 weddings, in recent years photographing those of brides and grooms whose parents’ weddings I had taken.

“It is the same with studio portraits, with many thousands of children and families taken over several generations and I estimate to have taken around three to four million photographs.”

Neil (70) hopes to continue his passion in his semi-retirement, either with home portraiture or at another venue.

According to Neil photography has changed significantly since the 1960s: “When I started it was with film and chemistry, working in darkrooms. My cameras were Rolleiflex and Hasselblad, with 12 pictures per film.

“Photography has undergone huge changes with the advent of digital photography. While in some ways today’s younger photographers may ‘have it easy’ I do believe that digital has released as talented and creative a group of photographs as at any time.”

While photography is a huge passion for Neil, he has other interests which are sure to keep him busy.

He is a founder member of the Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre and a keen badminton and tennis player.

At the time of writing he was planning to compete in the North Angus Tennis Championships and expected to be the oldest entrant.