JJ Waller

JJ Waller



Having been involved with QueenSpark Books in the development of the Brighton & Hove Photographic Collection from the ideas stage in 2009 to the launch of the website in October 2011, it is with particular pleasure that JJ Waller takes up the invitation to post a selection of images as a guest curator. This what he has to say.

"As with Magnum photographer Mark Power, the previous and inaugural guest, I am endlessly fascinated by images of the town whether it is from the earlier days of photography or from the more recent past. Hence, I regularly return to this site to discover what new and sometimes inspired images people have decided to share.

The massive sales of the annual Brighton calendar demonstrate a huge public appetite for classic, sensational, wow factor images of Brighton but what especially draws me to the Brighton & Hove Photographic Collection is the celebration of the humdrum, ordinary everyday scenes. These often-simple unstructured spontaneous snaps have with the passing of time attained a special quality of insight and revelation into the DNA of the town.

The late Leslie Whitcomb is a good example of a contributor to the collection whose pictures wonderfully record the urbane and everyday. They show a pre-cappuccino Brighton at a time before style, 'Place To Be' regeneration became king. Leslie was a talented member of an amateur photographic society who had a huge back catalogue of many thousands of slides. The Brighton & Hove Photographic Collection is just the right partner for his family to posthumously show his documentation of the town. It presents a superb opportunity for ‘homeless’ prints, negatives and transparencies gathering dust in attics and garages, to be shared with the hungry eyes of new generations of Brighton picture explorers.

Mark Power astutely quotes his fellow Magnum photographer Martin Parr who comments "Why do so many people continue to photograph the things around us that don't change, like cathedrals or sunsets, while ignoring the things that do - shops, cars, fashions, our cul-de sac or our High Street - the ordinary things we see everyday which become more interesting with each passing year". The Brighton & Hove Photographic Collection fully signs up to this idea vitally viewing the role of contemporary images in its archive as importantly as those images from previous eras.

Following on from this I have chosen not to trawl through this ever evolving site (as I often do) selecting my favourites, but instead to especially shoot some new work capturing the last day of the Open Market before its makeover re-launch in 2013. Infact, more specifically, I concentrated on the Open Market Café's final session. I had pretty much expected that several photographers would have turned up to do the same, but to my knowledge and surprisingly I was the only one. I therefore hope I have done justice to the opportunity by capturing something of the unique atmosphere of the people and the place as well as recording for the inquisitive eyes of future generations a small but significant event in the city's history.