Book Review: Out of the Ordinary

Sunday 2nd April 2023

I wrote a tribute to the wonderful award winning photographer Roger Bamber when he sadly died last September. Before his untimely death he’d been working on a book showcasing the tremendous collection of photographs taken during his lifelong career including spells with the Daily Mail, the Sun and The Guardian.

It was fortuitous Roger had been able to complete the final draft copy including the captions he’d written for all the truly amazing photographs in the 206 page book that has just been published to coincide with an exhibition of Roger’s photographs which opened yesterday at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. Each photograph is named by Roger together with the date it appeared in the newspaper or publication.

Brighton was a very special home city for Roger. After he moved there in 1973 and once he worked for The Guardian he regularly submitted photographs featuring the many varied and quirky aspects of city life which featured in the paper – sometimes almost every week. The Guardian’s picture editor, Eamonn McCabe who worked closely with Roger and had great admiration for his work as a fellow professional, had agreed to write the introduction to Roger’s book but in a dreadful coincidence he also died, very suddenly, a month after Roger last October. Instead, the book is appropriately introduced with the heartfelt obituary Eamonn wrote about Roger in the Guardian, with his widow, Rebecca Smithers, adding a final section to explain the background before the book was published.

Roger’s widow Shân has ensured the book project reached a conclusion and published just in time for the exhibition.

Eamonn explained in his obituary about the preponderance of photographs taken in Brighton “sometimes I seriously thought that he (Roger) was employed by the Brighton Tourist Board”. As well as Brighton, Roger was also interested in all forms of transport especially steam trains together with his love of Brighton & Hove Buses, an interest which grew even more once he was commissioned to provide the fantastic front cover photograph for each edition of Bus Times over ten years.

The captions Roger has written for each photograph in the book show his love for the photograph’s subject matter as well as his wit and sense of the ridiculous and quirkiness.

“Each photograph makes you think as well as smile” Eamonn McCabe wrote. He’s certainly right as you marvel at each image and what it portrays.

The book contains the best quality collection of photographs you’ll ever find, including many with a transport theme which I’ve given a flavour of here including my two favourites taken at Brighton Toy Museum (above) and Balcombe Viaduct (below).

The book is well worth its £40 cover price and will bring joy to your coffee table as well as yourself.

If you’re able to visit Brighton Museum and Art Gallery this summer to see the exhibition, then please do (it’s on until 3rd September) and buy the book from the Museum shop. The book is also available from all the usual outlets.

A highly recommended purchase.

Roger French

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: Out of the Ordinary

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  1. I liked the photos on the front cover of the timetables ….. always something to look out for, and you could tell they were “composed” rather than just “snapped”.


    1. I have a feeling that it was a person I went to school with and they show me the photo on a postcard. Said it was when he was younger. Photo was taken but he didn’t know at time to later. But I could be remembering wrong was later 90s/00s when i knew him.


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