When lockdown and self isolation began in England, photographer JJ Waller immediately responded with an idea that enabled him to safely interact with people in his home City of Brighton. He hit upon the idea of photographing people looking out through window panes and glass doors.
Here he describes how the project developed:
“Very quickly via social media I received three invitations to photograph people. Amongst them was Sadie and her mum.
I took a picture of Sadie gazing inquisitively through the patterned glass of her front door, that picture had a strong resonance and from that I recognised the pictures would have significance as a documentation of a unique period in our history.
Since those early pictures the work has taken on a life of it’s own. Every day I receive invitations to photograph people. The concept of recording a historical event for future generations is very simple and as such people have grasped it’s importance and happily want to be part of it.
Social media feedback and press and television traction suggest the images are having an impact. So far eight weeks later I have photographed in excess of seventy families and individuals. The project has extended beyond the city of Brighton and Hove and extensively includes the Town of St Leonards and Hastings as well as the Sussex village of Firle.
Although generally I am not with people for very long most have shared their experiences with me, some are very harrowing. For example I met a women who as a ten year old witnessed the aftermath of the chemical gas disaster in India in 1984.
It is hard to right now to envisage the fundamental societal changes that the future will present, but I hope that the images will play a role in helping people in the future gain some insight into what we experienced during the pandemic.
JJ Waller, Friday, 8th May 2020 (VE day)
It is now planned that a book JJ Waller’s Lockdown. Portraits of This Time will be published by curious-publishing in July 2020 edited by Martin Parr.