eighthundred

About 3 weeks ago Mark McNulty approached me with an idea for a shoot. 1 day, 8 photographers, 800 people. A crazy idea but a great one none the less. The idea wasn’t to photograph your friends or clients but Liverpool on its birthday. We got support from the Albert Dock who kindly said we could use the Grand Hall for the exhibition. The Culture Company also backed us. We got the funding for the prints and free wine for the launch. All that was left was to photograph 800 people in just one day. As you do. We all had assistants arranged who would be joining us on the day to keep us from going insane, focused and to take down details of the 100 people we all had to photographer. Unfortunately mine had to cancel so at 9am I was standing on Allerton Road looking for people to photograph. I wasn’t really that familiar with the area so it was a bit scary, especially due to the shooting 5 minutes down the road last week. As soon as I got out my car I found 4 people, then another 4, then 3 and then a couple. 20 minutes in and I had 10 photographs. “I can do this!” I thought to myself. I felt good, happy, and a bit less stressed. Of course I still had another 89 people to get, and to fit in some photos of the 800th Birthday events and shoot fireworks later. The great thing was that people knew about the project due to an interview by Matt on Radio Merseyside. This really help legitimise the project. People knew who I was. I headed to Penny Lane, which was empty of people. I spotted a hair dressers there and went in, which was also empty as they had just opened. So I tried the butty bar next door and that was full of telecomms engineers grabbing a butty. I got 2 of them and headed to Sefton Park. It was empty, but I managed to get a couple shot.

Time was getting on so I headed in to town, to Falkner Street in the hope of getting shots of the Quarter. On arrival I bumped into Helen Palmer, one of the other photographers. She had just done the Quarter. I grabbed a coke and headed down Hope Street. The thing about this project was that on an ordinary day you would walk down a road and weave around groups of people on the street heading to where ever you were going. On this day the groups on the street were my destination. 3 girls walked towards me, “Ladies, can I interest you in a photograph?” to which they would ask what its for and I explained. 1 opted out, the other two were happy to help. On I went and found a large group of 6 people. Now being on my own meant it took time to get everyones name and what they were up to. This didn’t seem to be slowing me down when I compared numbers with Ben. I was on a roll, fueled by coke, lucozade and adrenaline. I went back to my car and off to St Georges Hall to capture some 800th Birthday shots. Here I bumped into a videographer I knew who interviewed me for the project. That was… different. We were stopped by 2 lovely Australian girls from Walkabout who were giving out 20% off stickers. Naturally I got a photograph in return for a sticker. From there I headed to Lord Street to capture the parade and grab people watching it. Here I felt under enormous pressure. There were hundreds of people there and it was a bit scary going up to people with so many watching me. I managed to get a good selection of people from there though, mostly those who weren’t that interested in seeing the parade but wanted to be there.

Off I went down Castle Street and bumped into Mark and a few minutes later, Mike from Talk Photography with his girl friend and her dog. I was then approached by a market researcher getting info on tourism in Liverpool. We exchanged projects and I went to St. Lukes for a rest and lunch. It was a really great place to chill out. I did need that time, and time to work out where I was at. I bumped into one very cool girl there who was whitty and had a great personality, so I got her photograph and she was one of the 2 larger prints I had done. I wanted to pick people who really stood out from the day, who weren’t just milling around town. I headed off towards Switch Media grabbing shots of people who had been in the Parade and just missed out on Art in Liverpool who had been photographed by Mark. The Switch Media group were excellent. Lots of fun faces. I went off to the area by the Echo to try and get some business people, but it was after lunch so fairly quiet. I managed to get 1 girl who posed just like a model, which no-one else that day did. From there to the Pier Head to Paradise Street and some workers to the bus station and passers by. After that to the Open Eye gallery and then Starbucks for a rest. I had a nice drink and a brownie and headed out to shoot Bold Street. Typically I met people I knew so I got their photo. I tried Jacobs but they had already been done. I wandered up Bold Street and heard someone say “photography” so I grabbed those people. A great group of 4 and I was up to 95 people. Off down Renshaw Street and I got a couple celebrating their 1 year anniversary, 2 girls and a guy with the longest name in history. At 6pm exactly I was done. Typically I saw a stunningly attractive girl with bright pink hair, however I also saw her in the exhibition so I didn’t have to worry.

I was done, I headed for a bite to eat and watched the sun over the Mersey. Off home and after loading them into Lightroom, picking photos I liked, I had 94 exactly. We only had space for 92 photos per person and 2 larger A2 prints. So we had to cram 100 people into 94 prints. I did it! A quick drink and off to the fireworks. The next day I was at Moorfields Photographic by 10am to drop off my prints. 1 hour later they were done and I chilled out till the afternoon when we were building the gallery. Then it got tricky. We had all our prints layed out on the floor and wow. It was immense. I’d never seen anything like it. Huge! We ran into some problems building the gallery, namely that the prints were still a bit curved so Jackie came up with the great idea of mounting them onto backing paper. We could then stick them onto that paper to reduce the curves and mount the entire thing. We had 48 prints per sheet. By about 9pm we had 1 sheet hung. We still had 15 more to create and mount the next day. By around 3pm the next day we had about 2 more hung and the rest being mounted. Now we weren’t being slow because we were opening at 6pm that evening. We had 3 hours to finish the entire thing. It was just the sheer size of it slowing us down. Mounting nearly 800 photographs, hanging them, checking things looked good, getting things lined up. Dear god it was a task. At 5pm we still had more to hang but I needed to head home and freshen up, which due to the distance meant I didn’t arrive until 6:40pm! When I did arrive, oh god it felt real. The room was full, people were outside and wow. I saw at least 1 guy I photographed and that was amazing. He was a fruit store seller near Castle Street. Standing in the corner of the room was amazing. The sheer size of the exhibit, of 800 people being on the wall. Honestly its the most impressive gallery I’ve seen. We did it in about 2 and a half days. How?! I keep thinking about it, 1 day, 8 photographers, 800 people! How did we do that? I can’t wait to pop by later and just sit there in the space. 800 people! Haha its just crazy. We also made Liverpool Confidential

5 comments on “eighthundred

  1. Nice write-up of what sounds like an amazing day, Pete. Nice collage too, although I’d like to see the bigger pics, I don’t think I’ll be able to justify a trip to Liverpool! Are they going online at some stage?

  2. They all will be online at some point. Obviously I couldn’t put 100 up here today :)

  3. Wow, 8 photographers, 800 photos, in a day, that was a pretty cool idea, wonderful. I think the most rewarding thing about the whole concept was to make a difference for those people who were photographed, and of course to feel great after seeing the result, Fantastic. I hope to see all those photos someday and also do something like that one day, Congratulations for the great job, =)

  4. Hi Pete,
    Interesting story, sounds very fun to be a part of !
    I can easily understand the scariness just to walk up people and start to photograph. It seems like your work got fantastic ! Great job and story again.

  5. Andrew

    It’s a beautiful collage. Dare I say this though near Liverpool: It reminds me somewhat of the cover of the Rolling Stones Exile on main Street!

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