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Photographer Profile: Doreen Cables

This is the first post in an occasional series which is going to highlight the films produced by one particular amateur photographer and bring them all together in one post. In this inaugural post I’m covering a photographer called Doreen Cables.

Generally the films I find and publish on Vintage Home Movies are single films which I bought as part of another purchase or maybe a collection of one or two which come from the same photographer. Most films come without the original box or envelope which has the address of the photographer on them so I can’t always identify the actual photographer, but just occasionally I find a whole group which were all taken by the same person.

In this case, I found a complete collection of Kodachrome (predominantly) movies on eBay a couple of years ago. I noticed them because they were described as ‘1950s 8mm home movies’, and I knew I would find them interesting as a social historian. Because of this, I paid just over £22 for all the movies, which amounted to about 23 films.

So what do I know about Doreen Cables – or D Cables as the name is written on the film box? Well about the person, not very much. I know from the address on the processed film boxes that she lived in London in the area around Greenwich and Blackheath and I know that her family owned a transport business called ‘Cables Transport’. Searching for any information about this name or business was not very successful however – a search for ‘D Cables in Greenwich’ brings up lots of hits about the cable car, and ‘Cables Transport Greenwich’ brings up a hit to this site!

However, oddly enough, the paragraph above was accurate when I wrote it, but on the very same day that I started writing this article I got some more information about the company and a little bit more about the person.

It happened that someone who saw a film I published about the Cables Transport lorries found out a bit more information about the company and the person and sent a series of tweets on the found film twitter page about them. I will update the relevant posts in a few days, but the additional information I found about the person is that the D Cables written on the box stands for Doreen Cables, that she was born in Feb 1923 and sadly that she passed away in 2017.

I guess that explains why I was able to acquire the films a few years ago – they were the result of her estate being sold.

Photographer Profile: Doreen Cables 1
Members of the Cables Transport Company

However, even with this additional data, the only real information I can derive is from the films that she produced and I bought on eBay.

One of the earliest films that I watched when I first got them was a black & white film which seems to show a business trip by members of the family business. I didn’t know this was the case the first time I watched it; I watched that film first because it was the oldest and therefore in my eyes the most interesting. It was from this film, and another which showed Cables Transport lorries, that I worked out the family business connection.

In the picture displayed here there are the family members from a still from that movie. I don’t know which of these people are related to the photographer for certain although the man in the dark suit occurs often enough in other films to believe he is her husband or possibly brother.

Photographer Profile: Doreen Cables 2

As with many other amateur photographers, Doreen Cables mainly produced home movies when the family went on holiday and the holidays the family went on tell us something about the photographer and her lifestyle.

The films I have show that the family took Skiing holidays in Austria, went to the Scilly Isles several times, and enjoyed breaks in Venice and Rome.

There are also films of holidays in Scotland and on the Isle of Wight.

It is easy to think that these numerous holidays point to a very easy and relaxed life, but of course these films cover many years from about 1954 to 1966, so when spread over that time it doesn’t seem as much. Nonetheless, I suspect being able to afford holidays in many different European countries probably points to her family being reasonably well off.

Of course anyone’s profile of another person based only on the home movies they produced will probably be wildly off the mark so I’m not going to try to make any further points but instead here are the film that I have that she made. If nothing else they prove that she was a competent home movie maker; most of the films are well exposed and have smooth camera movements with no sudden jerking of the camera from one viewpoint to another so I think she could have been proud of her work.

All the films of Doreen Cables

This is the complete list of films which Ms Cables produced as a youtube playlist.

About

A software developer by profession and an amateur photographer by hobby I've been interested in all things photographic since I was a teenager some 40 years ago. Many of my interests centre around vintage film photography and cinematography.

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