John J. E. Mayall established a reputation for high class portrait photography in London's fashionable Regent Street. Lancashire born John Jabez Edwin Mayall (17 September 1813 - 6 March 1901) the son of a manufacturing Chemist and Dye Works proprietor, had begun his working life near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, but around 1842, he travelled to America to study the art and science of photography under the tutelage of two scientists attached to the University of Pennsylvania. In 1844, Mayall entered into partnership with Samuel Van Loan and together they operated a daguerreotype portrait studio in Philadelphia. A few years later, Mayall returned to England and by April 1847 he had established a Daguerreotype Institution at 433, West Strand, London. By 1852, Mayall had opened a second studio at 224 Regent Street in the West End of London.
Mayall had secured the patronage of Queen Victoria and the Royal Family and between 1860 and 1862, he published sets of royal portraits in the carte de visite format, which triggered a craze for collecting cdv portraits. Mayall achieved fame and fortune. In the year 1861, he reportedly made £12,000 from his carte de visite portraits.
Leaving his eldest son Edwin to run his London studios, John J.E. Mayall moved down to Brighton with his wife and two younger sons and on 18 July 1864, he opened his new photographic portrait studio at 90-91 Kings Road, close to the recently built Grand Hotel. In an announcement placed in the pages of the Brighton Examiner, Mayall declared that he had "spared neither pains nor expertise in preparing, for the accommodation of the nobility and gentry resident at or visiting Brighton, one of the most efficient studios ever built." Although he addressed his comments particularly to the "nobililty and gentry", Mayall admitted that he was "not unmindful of the fact . . . that moderate charges are as necessary as general excellence to ensure extensive public patronage." Mayall charged £1.1s (£1.05p) for a set of 12 carte de visite portraits and £5.5s (£5.25p) for his "highly finished" coloured portrait photographs. More modest establishments in Brighton were offering a dozen carte de visite portraits for 5 shillings (25 p.) in 1864.
Mayall made the guarantee that his new Brighton studio would be "as successful in operation as it is complete in design". Mayall's name remained on the Kings Road Studio until 1908, seven years after his death. Mayall, who lived in the Brighton area until he died in Southwick on 6 March 1901, involved himself fully in the life of the town and became active in local politics and in 1877 he was made Mayor of Brighton.