134-year-old Ipswich business to close
THE final chapter is being written in the 134-year story of Whitehead Studios.
If you or your extended family has had anything to do with Ipswich over the last century, chances are there is at least one dusty old Whitehead Studios photograph lying around the house.
The name has become synonymous with the family portrait, baby, school or wedding photo since the Whitehead family launched the business in 1883.
This week, the city was saddened by the news that current owner, Gordon Reeves, had decided to shut the doors at Whitehead Studios.
It's a decision he hasn't taken lightly, but one he said had to be made in order to ensure the Whitehead name maintained the respect it deserved in Ipswich for years to come.
Mr Reeves will slowly wind back photographic duties over the coming months, still honouring existing contracts and agreements, with a view to completely leaving the industry in a few years' time.
"It's certainly a sad time, but in a way it's also a happy and nostalgic time," he said.
"I will still be in the area and I will still see a lot of the people I've photographed over the years.
"It's nice to know that we have created a lot of really good friends and happy memories."
Among those memories, Mr Reeves estimates that the Ipswich studio has been responsible for photographing the last six generations of Ipswich babies.
Add to that the thousands upon thousands of weddings, school and sport pictures and other important memories and it is no surprise to learn that it will take several weeks to wind the business down.
Whitehead Studios is in the process of selling off equipment and sorting through old negatives and images.
Some of the relics will be returned to the Whitehead family, who sold the business to Mr Reeves in 2004.
"It's not just a matter of closing the doors and saying 'see you later'," Mr Reeves said.
"Over more than 100 years we've done six generations of babies on our baby table.
"It has taken me a long time to make the decision to go, and it is sad. The Whitehead family looked after us and gave us the privilege of looking after the business name."
Mr Reeves said the photographic industry was becoming increasingly challenging for small operators and he decided it was better to leave on a high rather than battle on and possibly run the Whitehead name down.
He consulted with the Whitehead family before making the decision.