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Two photographers document the Capital of Culture

Two photographers document the Capital of Culture - For Pete Carr and Mark McNulty Liverpool is their home. They live, work and love their city and here they tell ePHOTOzine why you could spend your whole life documenting it.

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Sunset over Mann Island by Peter Carr
 Sunset over Mann Island by Pete Carr.

Two photographers from Liverpool have spent their careers photographing all aspects of Liverpool. From the QE2 to Sir Paul McCartney and his daughter, these two photographers have photographed Liverpool from all angles.

"When I was working with Paul McCartney I couldn't believe he knew my name and then later on I get a call off Stella to cover her fashion show," explained Mark McNulty.

Both have had no real formal training and their careers in photography stem from hobbies that just stuck.

"I started taking pictures when I was 13, I didn't know why I wanted to be a photographer or why I wanted to take photographs all I knew is I wanted to take pictures. For my birthday I was given a camera and I also got some money and I bought the Beatles Red and Blue albums and simultaneously I discovered my two obsessions. It wasn't until six years later that I realised I could combine the two," explained Mark.

 Bjork by Mark McNulty
  Bjork by Mark McNulty.

"In 2004 I started a website where I dumped my photographs and created a blog. I eventually found my feet and realised I wanted to take pictures of people and places particularly in Liverpool," added Pete Carr.

Their love for photography and for Liverpool is visible throughout the pages of their new books.

Mark's book titled Pop Culture is a musical tale of the talent that has come from or visited Liverpool.

"I was looking into the idea in general but at the same time I started looking at my archives and it wasn't until then that I realised I had photographed people like Mick Jones from the Clash! At that point I decided it could all be turned into a book."

For Pete his book is a milestone that shows himself and the world that he is an established photographer. The Port of Culture is almost a documentary of the city, it shows how it's constantly re-inventing itself.

"From taking pictures you can see how a city changes, Liverpool has changed so much."

Ladytron by Mark McNulty
 Ladytron by Mark NcNulty.

The cityscape isn't the only thing that has changed as peoples attitudes to photographers from Liverpool and the work they produce in Liverpool has also altered too, as Mark explains:

"There wasn't a lot of work in Liverpool when I first started, you couldn't just work in Liverpool I worked in London too. Now it's the total opposite I don't get the chance to leave Liverpool. People are now looking for photographers in Liverpool not London. I'm always busy and at the moment I am taking pictures for a Dutch psychology magazine about artists and for a Swedish magazine who want pictures of a Volvo in Liverpool. I am also producing a CD to go to Tesco of staff portraits, one CD for a local band, another to send off to Stella McCartney, I work with the University on the prospectus and I also covered the MTV music awards."

Mark's work is varied he doesn't have a particular focus the only subject he doesn't shoot is the general public.

"There's always something going on in Liverpool, you can go at any time and shoot or document an event. It's only a small city so it's exciting, lively and challenging. The city is constantly changing, you only have to look at sites such as Flickr to find a shot someone's taken that you haven't got."

Unlike Mark, Pete features the public in many of the photographs he takes.

Protest by Peter Carr
 Protest against Condoleezza Rice visit by Pete Carr.

"Street portraits are good, look for features that will make an interesting picture and capture it. If you go out when it's busy you can get some great portraits. Use people to create foreground interest, they can add scale to a picture too."

Working with the light and creating interesting and unusual angles is something Pete likes to do: "The sun is everything, you can go to the Chinese Arch in Liverpool where the sun will shine down the street perfectly. Liverpool is great I can walk around and capture the best light, I can go to a gig and get a great shot of a unknown musician playing a great track or I could go out tomorrow and get a great picture of someone in town- there's always something to photograph in Liverpool."

Mark uses a Nikon with a mid-range zoom while Pete uses a Canon 30D.

Liver and Tower buildings from the Strand by Peter Carr
The Liver Building and the Tower Building from the Strand by Pete Carr. 

"I put the camera on aperture-priority and away I go. I use whatever settings work and I'm not afraid to use a high ISO. I do a lot of HDR work as it works really well for cities, it can pull a lot of detail back. I also use black and white quite a lot as I think it simplifies an image and removes distractions."

Both photographers use Lightroom but Mark more so: "I use Lightroom as I like messing with photographs. When I worked in a darkroom I used to cut film up and make montages out of the pictures. I try to make the photograph look real, I don't do any more changes than I would have made if I was working in film."

Working in film did have its advantages over the digital technology of today. People would give photographers time to process the film whereas now they know taking a photograph digitally is instant and they want their products to be too.

Pop Cultured by Mark McNulty and Port of Culture by Pete Carr"The more we progress the less time it seems we have to do anything. Although the internet is a great thing. That and the success of Liverpool as a city has helped me."

Pete added: "The city is amazing and it can only get better. I could spend my whole life documenting it, who knows what will happen in 2009."

You can learn more about the photographers by visiting their websites: Pete Carr and Mark McNulty.

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imagio 11 12 1 England
17 Nov 2008 5:30PM
Superb just superb..Bernie

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