Award-winning Hawick photographer Derek Lunn has chronicled the town and its people for almost 40 years

A photographer who has looked through his lens to chronicle the people of Hawick for almost four decades is now focusing on a happy retirement.

By Paul Kelly
Monday, 10th January 2022, 2:42 pm
Derek Lunn looks back on his career.
Derek Lunn looks back on his career.

After 37 years running a photographic studio in the town, Derek Lunn is reluctantly calling time on his career.

It has been a difficult decision to make and he admits to being unsure it is the right thing to do.

But the impact of the pandemic has proved a decisive factor and now he’s looking forward to enjoying his new hobbies of painting, cooking and brewing beer.

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Derek in his drumming days.

Before he can put his mind to more relaxing pursuits there is the huge issue of clearing out his Howegate studio and selling the property.

Over the years Derek has photographed the great and good of Hawick, including rugby commentating legend Bill McLaren and Scotland international Stuart Hogg.

Among the other famous faces that have sat for him include golfers Colin Montgomerie and Sandy Lyle.

And as he looks back on his career, Derek, 61, who has run the business with the support of his wife Elaine, said “he wouldn’t change it for the world”.

However, his career trajectory could have been different – he spent his younger days as a professional drummer with the pop band No Kiddin and was an apprentice painter and decorator for his late father Bill.

Derek, father to daughter Charlotte, recalled how his photographic career started when he borrowed a box brownie from his parents and proceeded to photograph family members until film and processing became too expensive.

He added: “I joined Hawick Camera Club after I got my first SLR camera for my 21st. I quickly got into black and white film processing and printing, entering and winning various local competitions.

"I moved to more ambitious photography with local people modelling and won a national portrait competition in the Amateur Photographer magazine, more followed and I was able to build up my equipment from the winnings.

“Our daughter was born in 1989 so I was unable to afford the film, paper or equipment I needed to continue so decided to offer my portrait photography to the Hawick people to help finance my hobby. Things accelerated quickly and soon I needed a studio to work from. I rented a bottom room at the Border Club then moved along the road to 49A North Bridge Street for my first shop front studio. Weddings then took off big time and I turned full time, moving away from painting and decorating at last. After a few years the studio proved too small and I needed to move.

"The premises in the town's Howegate became available so I decided to chance it. Business boomed and I decided to stay and buy the property. There I remained for the next 24 years, ably supported by my wife Elaine.

“Along the way I have had a wonderful time photographing many famous people and many Hawick worthies, notably in the exhibitions and books, 'Honest Men and Bright Eyed Daughters'. The original exhibition became Hawick Museum's busiest month ever. My photography has picked up many awards over the years, including Scottish Portrait Photographer of the Year, but competitions were never really important, the main enjoyment was producing images that local people loved.

“I have been the Hawick Common Riding photographer for most of my time with a couple of exceptions. My first year was 1989, John Douglas' year, where I photographed the lasses for the first time, so I guess I have around 30 years service to the town's festival.

“I have been well supported by Hawick's rugby, bowling and golf clubs and hope to continue to help them out.”

Derek added: “I would say that the pandemic has certainly had a big impact. I wasn’t working for about a year and a half because I couldn’t open the premises safely.

"I found that I could fill my time no problem without working. I started hobbies - painting, cooking and brewing beer.

"Half the work of a portrait photographer is to converse and communicate with the sitter, to get to know the people so they can relax.

"I have to say it has been a really difficult decision and I am still in two minds whether I have done the right thing or not.

"I need to clear the place out and the portraits and weddings, which document the town, will be saved, but not the general commercial stuff.

"All in all it has been a wonderful way to spend a working life and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”