So, 2008. That sure was one BIG year. Liverpool was the European Capital of Culture and despite people’s fears in 2007 it was an incredible year. I’m going to leave my thoughts on 08 for another day where I’ll focus on the best photos from cultural events. For now I’m going to walk you through my year.
Janurary. What an opening. Over 40,000 people packed into Lime Street to see the start of 2008. I had one of the best views in the city from St Johns Beacon. I was due to go on top but thankfully I found an open window by the BBC videographer and wedged my tripod in there. I was warm and my gear wasn’t blown off the top of the building. I was there to photograph the fireworks launched off 4 buildings. There was meant to be more fireworks but the weather meant they couldn’t launch them. I had everything set in the hope that I would get the photo. I had no idea how long the display would last but I basically knew I would get one chance. I got the shot and other shots were printed on the front page of the Liverpool Echo, and inside as a double page spread a few days later.
Feburary. We had a random week of stunning sunsets that I took advantage of. I banked a series of sunset and dusk shots that week including one of HMS Bulwark. I took it after I had finished doing a film about Liverpool with a student. That same week I saw the Mersey calmer than I’ve ever seen it. It was unbelievably still. I also launched my first exhibition that month which was a huge success.
March. The Bluecoat re-opened. This is a building that I used to go into during my degree but I never really knew what it was. It was just that old place off the main shopping street that had old books. It has been completely redone and, despite the fire this year, looks great. The shot featured is of Yoko Ono’s Wishing Tree. You write a wish and attach it to the tree. A really thoughtful project.
April. HMS Mersey visited the cruise terminal and thanks to another ship parking in front I was able to get a shot I’m really happy with. I went for a Edward Chambre-Hardman look. The sort of WW2 style you would have got from him.
May. In May I was commissioned to produce a 42 feet wide panorama. Tricky but it worked out great and every time I see it I’m still blown away. I also used HDR to get a really nice rapeseed field sunset shot. I’ve got to use the location this year with a model. The first part of Liverpool One opened and I was lucky enough to get on top of the new Hilton Hotel to photograph the newly opened Liverpool One. I was really lucky when the clouds broke too.
June. One of the nicest looking cruise ships to arrive in Liverpool was the Saga Rose. It’s like a small version of the QE2. I got some lovely fireworks photos due to dusk being at 10pm when the fireworks display was on. Its always tricky shooting fireworks because more often than not they happen at night. The best time is dusk because its so much nicer. June also saw the launch of the Superlambanana’s around the city center. I had an idea for one. I was going to cover it in Liverpool themed photos, polariod style. Problem was that my exhibition launched on the very night the deadline for entries was. I never got around to it and I figured my idea just wasn’t artsy enough. I was kicking myself when I saw my idea in the lineup. Oh well. We had a day of bizarely strong winds in June. Proper 60mph winds that made it seem like winter more than summer. It made for some great photos though. The shot of 4 kids getting splashed by a giant wave made it into a book by the Tate.
July. The Tall Ships race kicked off in Liverpool. The Mersey was filled with ships and the parade of sail was something else. It was a shame that the ships couldn’t have their sails out as they came down the Mersey but it was still quite an event.
August. August was a busy month. The Brouhaha parade, Samba dancing in town, Creamfields and the Mathew St Festival. Lots of street activity.
September. Ah now what can I say about September. On the 26th my book called ‘Port of Culture’ arrived back from the printers. That was an awesome thing to have on the last day of my 20’s. September also saw La Machine. Everyone I knew was talking about it. Everyone. What was it going to be? What was going to happen? It was like nothing I’ve ever seen. Easily the highlight of the culture year. A 50ft spider walking around the city. Absolutely insane and wonderous. I have to say that I don’t think I’ve spent more time getting soaked than I did for that. Friday when it got up and walked around was pouring down to the extent that my 10-20 stopped working before the evening show. It worked for the next few days thankfully. I got covered in fake snow and for the final event I spent a few minutes hiding under my coat because the water effect they used was so incredibly powerful that I knew my camera would die. It was like a pointing a firehose at my camera. But what a few days. The whole city loved it and just wow! Liverpool One fully opened as well and again, another wet day. There was something very wrong with Septembers weather but it made for great photos.
October. The QE2 arrived for the last time. As much as I loved La Machine I think this was the highlight of 2008 for me because as part of the commission I had flight booked to do an arial shoot of Liverpool. If you have the money I urge you to do this because its incredible. Its hard to really believe what you’re seeing and despite the window being removed you feel safe because you don’t really believe it. Amazing 30 minutes though. Just amazing. HMS Invincible also visited and I tried for a stupidly long exposure which worked so well.
November. Remembrance Sunday is always an emotional event to photograph. How do you raise your camera to people paying respect to that many who died in war? You do it because you know that people should see what happens. People should know that Liverpool pays its respects, that people of all ages are out there in the cold rain because they know that others have died for the freedom to do so. I also found a nice view from the car park at the Echo Arena. Lovely dusk sky. This time of year is when I go to town on dusk photography because its at an easy to shoot time.
December. I know a lot of people feel like December is 4pm on a Friday. The year is over. Its not though. I took some of my favourite photos in December and I also got a new toy, my Nikon D700. I got a great photo of the new Pier Head area, and I have plans for more once I get a remote cable. There were protests in the city center like I’ve never seen over the BNP. I don’t think a lot of people were expecting it right there by the shops. The police presence was impressive and I chose to stay where the action was, inside the police area. Towards the end of the month I got my D700 and I love it so much. Its the leap I wanted and I basically did street photography after dark with it because I wanted to play with the high ISO. Its stunning. And the year ends with a photo of the Liverpool skyline in a way that I’ve never seen due to fog.
So that was 2008. I published a book and I’ve been working on two others. The first is my HDR guide which is nearly finished. The other is a book documenting 2008 in Liverpool called 3662008 and that should be an awesome book when its out. 6 of us have documented everything in 08, at least everything we can. Its one hell of a project and its been one hell of a year. 2009 will be a let down in some respects because there’s not going to be another year like that, but theres no harm in trying.
Plans for 2009? Ideally I want to revamp the site. Not a drastic change but I feel that the navigation is stuck. I plan to open an online store making it easier for people to buy certain prints. The site really needs an overhaul basically. Hopefully I’ll get to that early this year.