Project Description

Val Wilmer

Val Wilmer is an internationally acclaimed English photographer and writer, specialising in jazz, gospel, blues and British African-Caribbean music and culture.


© Lucinda Douglas-Menzies

In her long career, Val has worked with with hundreds of singers, jazz musicians and writers, and she has taken famous photographs of artists such as Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane and Duke Ellington, among others.

In 1983 Wilmer, along with Maggie Murray, founded Format: the first all-women photographers’ agency in Britain.

Her photographs were exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum and form part of the V&A’s photographic collection. Her photographs are also held in the National Portrait Gallery.

Val is the author of important books about jazz and black music: “Jazz People” (1970), “The Face of Black Music” (1976), “As Serious as Your Life: The Story of The New Jazz” (1977), “Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This: My Life in the Jazz World” (1989). She contributes for The Guardian.