Picture perfect life for photographer Paul: Paul Wilson

PHOTOGRAPHER Paul Wilson tells tales of travel, toffee apples and trouble with the Met to reporter Kirsty Beever, in a profile of the 52-year-old's life past and present.

PROBABLY one of Paul Wilson's most famous subjects was Elle MacPherson.

He said: "She came into the shop with her children and spent about an hour and a half here.

"We've also had a visit from Vic Reeves, Nancy Sorrell and their children, also former Middlesbrough footballer Gianluca Festa and some of the soap stars from Emmerdale and Brookside."

Paul runs popular studio Victorian Image, in Sandgate, Whitby.

He said: "We have photographed hundreds of families dressed in military style, or traditional Victorian costume.

"My partner Lynne is also a major part of the business, the backbone really. She will dress the customers and do all the ordering and paperwork."

Paul grew up in Filey and was affectionately known as "Lugsy" – a nickname even adopted by his teachers and is still used today by old friends and relatives.

He went to Filey School and had a keen interest in football, eventually going on to play for Filey Town and Scarborough Reserves.

After leaving school, Paul helped with the family fruit business, but at 19 years old decided he wanted to explore Europe.

So he and his friend set out for France with the intention of earning a living grape picking.

He said: "We went across on the Hull to Rotterdam ferry. We hitchiked with a lorry driver and he asked if we wanted to take a detour into Holland. We agreed and we stopped off at the place the lorry driver was delivering to. He then asked us if we wanted to go to for a drink while his lorry was being loaded, so we followed him to the nearest pub.

"When we got in there the place was full of English people. We asked what was going on and it turned out they were making a film. We asked if there was any work going and we ended up working as security guards."

The film they were producing was the acclaimed war epic A Bridge Too Far (1977).

After playing exceptionally well in the film set's football team, Paul was personally congratulated by director Sir Richard Attenborough and he and his friend soon found themselves promoted on to the special effects team.

He said: "We had a great time. We would run wires to explosives and then a technician would come to check we had done it right. It was fabulous."

The next time Paul went travelling was in 1981 with his partner, Lynne.

The two bought a Bedford van and set off for Athens.

"We slept in the back of the van and travelled through Holland, Austria and Yugoslavia, and eventually Athens. We decided to get home, we would take the bus, so we left the van in Athens.

"At this point the van was so run-down it was held together with string!"

Little did the couple know that, at the time, it was illegal to leave your vehicle in another country, so when customs checked their passports they demanded they pay up thousands of pounds.

"I started shouting at them and they pulled a gun at me. So Lynne and I quickly fled the bus and hitchiked back to Greece with a couple of lorry drivers who drank ouzo all the way there."

They found the van and then had it compounded by the local authorities.

He added: "The funny thing was, we sat one night in Athens after collecting the van, and we were talking to some Canadians. They started telling us a story about a couple they had seen thrown off the bus at customs. They had seen us being hauled off the bus as they were coming the other way!"

The couple had a number of memorable adventures while they travelled.

Paul said: "We woke up one morning covered in ants because we had slept by the side of the road. We broke down in the Yugoslav mountains because the bumper fell off the van and got stuck underneath.

"We were stranded all night and then in the morning a policeman pulled us free. We have even washed in the Blue Danube – which isn't all that blue, or clean!"

After returning to England, the couple moved back to Scarborough.

They continued with Paul's family fruit business and made toffee apples for the many beach-front shops and had a concession at Haven Holiday Park.

Later, they diversified into making doughnuts and had a stall which they took round markets in and around Scarborough.

It was in Whitby's market square where Paul met the owner of Victorian Image and he was offered a job – eventually going on to buy the studio some years later.

Paul's love for photography started when he was travelling.

After realising he was not able to capture the true magnificence of some of the scenery he witnessed in Europe on a small throw-away camera, he came back to England and bought his first professional camera.

He said: "From there I got hooked, I loved it."

Paul reflected on one particular eventful day when he was sat in the car waiting for Lynne in London near to Marble Arch.

She had nipped into Marks & Spencer to buy a chicken for their tea.

He said: "I had my camera with me and I was messing about looking through the lens. There was a knock on the car window and a policeman was stood there. I looked round and I was surrounded by them. He took the keys out of my ignition and asked me if I knew where I was.

"He told me I was outside the central police station in London, where terrorists would be brought. He said they had been watching me on their CCTV. They searched the car and then eventually let me go."

Now Paul is hoping to develop his creativity and has begun entering a number of photographic competitions, some which he has already been successful in winning.

And he and Lynne continue the Victorian imagery in Whitby – maybe attracting another host of stars in the summer months to come.

Starsign: Libra

Favourite programme: Britain's Got Talent

Favourite film: The Bourne Trilogy

If you were to invite two

people to dinner who would they be?: Photographic

pioneers Henri Cartier Bresson and Elliott Erwin

Favourite holiday destination: Morocco

Favourite place in Scarborough: South Bay

Favourite music: Pink Floyd

Favourite food: Curry

Favourite drink: Red wine