“When I look at his archive, I’m just mesmerized by the fact that he was there for so many of these defining moments in 20th century history,” says James. But James says that his grandfather never made his prowess known to those around him. “He was a very mild-mannered person, he wasn’t full of himself or anything like that,” he recalled. Growing up they played football in the garden and James would see him go to the back of the house where he built up his dark room, and spend hours digging through the stacks of film and old photos.
Varley’s son, James’ father who also went on to work as a photographer and later in television, handed the archive over to James after Varley’s death. As they went through the old darkroom James realized, “It’s kind of now or never…So I wanted somewhere, just a platform really, to show his work with the world,” he said. They digitalized the archive and launched the website in 2016, licensing and selling the photos ever since.