Brighton photographer JJ Waller captures life in lockdown

Sadie in lockdown

Sadie in lockdown - Credit: Archant

Brighton photographer JJ Waller has responded to the historic lockdown conditions in the UK by photographing people social distancing at home.

When lockdown began in the UK on 23 March photographer JJ Waller responded with an idea that enabled him to safely interact by photographing people in his home city of Brighton, looking out at the outside world through their windows and glass doors.

Very quickly via social media he received three invitations: the very first was from the mother of a young girl, Sadie, and her mother. “I took a picture of Sadie gazing inquisitively through the patterned glass of her front door, a picture that had a profound effect on me. I knew at that point the project could be a significant documentation of a unique period in our history,” he says.

Since then the work has taken on a life of its own. Each day JJ is inundated with invitations from people to photograph them. “The concept is very simple and people have easily grasped its importance and want to be part of it.”

Considerable social media engagement suggests the images are having a real emotional impact. “I am overwhelmed by the trust people are placing in me. So far I have photographed in excess of 40 families and individuals,” says JJ.

Although he is not with people for a very long time, many people have shared their experiences with him. “Some narratives are very harrowing. Yesterday I met a women who as a ten-year-old had witnessed the streets of Bophal in India the morning after the chemical gas disaster of 1984.” But the vast majority of people he has met, including her, are stoically optimistic for a new future.

JJ doesn’t yet know where this work is leading – a book, perhaps, or an exhibition. “It is hard to envisage the changes ahead and in particular for me at what point this period of documentation will finish. It is a journey we are all sharing and as with many journeys it isn’t always easy to know where it finishes. If it does become a book I hope it will very soon be a history book.”

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