Brian Waite’s images have delighted and informed us for three decades.
He was a gifted man who could conjure stunning pictures from even the most mundane of situations. Scenes you could have driven past a dozen times with scarcely a glance were transformed under Brian’s gaze. A scarecrow in a corner of the flat Fens, in the shadow of Wissington Sugar Factory, became a surreal echo of the Angel of the North, as dawn lit the plumes of steam.
Brian often produced gems like that, spotting some nuance of the light on the land on the drive from his home at Downham Market to our office at King’s Lynn. People’s characters leapt from our pages as he captured their joys and their sorrows, their triumphs and their disappointments.
The smile on the face of the airman returning home from a tough tour of duty says it all, as his children run across the airfield at RAF Marham to greet him. And it wasn’t just the human world, with all its hopes, fears and foibles, which came under the all-seeing gaze of Brian’s lens. His picture of a kitten in a cat show display, dressed up like a boxing ring, and a pin sharp telephoto shot of deer swimming through a lake, contrast two facets of the animal kingdom.
“I always thought he had such a brilliant eye for composition,” said EDP journalist Sue Skinner, Brian’s partner for 16 years.
“He could look at a view, see something I would never have seen, and when you saw it in print it just looked brilliant.”
Despite his abilities, colleagues yesterday recalled a modest man, who shrugged off his achievements. “He was a very private man, I think many of the special qualities he had were known only to his closest friends,” Sue said. “He was warm and generous to a fault and always displayed total honesty.”
Brian, whose roots were in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, joined the EDP nearly 30 years ago. Our archives show the first assignment he did for the paper was on April 30, 1973, when he photographed an exhibition at the Fermoy Gallery, in King’s Lynn.
“Despite journalists’ love of words, at times like this they seem wholly inadequate,” said EDP editor Peter Franzen.
“The sense of shock and sadness which pervaded the office will remain with us for a long time. But that must be incomparable to the pain Sue and Brian’s family are suffering now.”
EDP picture editor Dennis Whitehead said: “As well as being a true and loyal friend, Brian had earned the respect of all his photographic colleagues. His reputation stretched beyond the boundaries of Norfolk, and all who came into contact with him were deeply shocked at the news. We have lost an excellent photographer but above all a great and well-respected man. Our sympathy is with Sue and his family.”
Alison Croose, former EDP West Norfolk news editor, said: “Brian was a consummate professional who took great pride in his work. He was a real character whose wry sense of humour helped make him well-loved.”
Brian was a familiar face at all kinds of events. He regularly photographed King’s Lynn and Wisbech Town matches, together with speedway and a host of sporting fixtures. He also pictured the Royal Family during their stays at Sandringham and in recent months documented the controversial removal of the Seahenge monument.
“When we went to Downham Carnival on Monday, we were walking round the Howdale, and it seemed like every other person knew Brian,” Sue said. “He had a great sense of humour, he was 50 going on 15 a lot of the time, and he could always make me laugh. One of my friends said he was a man who cast a long shadow – I think that’s about right.”
Reproduced courtesy of the Eastern Daily Press
To see some of Brian’s pictures, click here
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