Born in 1924, Collins’s first illustrated article appeared in Amateur Photographer in 1952. Four years later he left his job as a watchmaker to pursue a career as a freelance photojournalist. Working primarily in the field of popular entertainment, he documented the rise of singers and radio and television performers such as Tony Hancock, Johnny Ray, Shirley Bassey and Petula Clark. His work frequently appeared in Picture Post, Illustrated and Everybody's Magazine and he contributed illustrated articles for a number of photographic magazines. Focusing on spontaneous human-interest subjects, Collins favoured Microcord, Super Ikonta and Rolleiflex cameras and almost always used electronic flash. Many of his portraits show stars in their dressing rooms or at home; this was in order to get a relaxed and un-posed portrait. In 1982 the Royal Photographic Society held a retrospective exhibition of Collins' work entitled Double Image.
The works in this display have been selected from the Bob Collins collection which was generously donated to the Gallery by John Acton in 2003. The collection comprises vintage prints, film negatives, colour transparencies and scrapbooks compiled by Bob Collins.