Best of 2009

So that was 2009. Its really been some year. If you had told me at the start where I’d be at the end I would have laughed. Unbelievable year really. I still can’t make a good coffee though, bleh. The images are larger than normal because these are to be the new size when the new site is done. Anyway, lets start at the beginning.


January. The official closing ceromony of 2008 didn’t happen at the end of 2008 but instead in the early days of Jan 09. A bit odd but the event was fantastic. I never really planned to photograph it. I heard that the skyline would be lit up and that they would have fireworks so I planned to be at Seacombe or Woodside. However, upon a quick location scout early afternoon I changed my mind and waited for 4 hours holding my spot because I knew it would be worth it. As you can see it was totally worth it. January also bought some other great moments. HMS Ark Royal revisited Liverpool and I was lucky enough to photograph one of the crew, a local girl at that. President Obama was inaugurated as the new President of America. I had a feeling this was important to everyone and not just Americans so I went to Toxteth to document it. Last but not least there was the ever colourful Chinese New Year and this year I had press access. Having access meant I could get a few different shots to previous years. Next year will be tricky though. After 4 or 5 years of it how do I capture it fresh? Well I do have a plan so we’ll see.

The final interesting thing that happened in January was the official start of the Fab Collective. About 30 people piled into the Everyman on a very cold January evening for a chat about doing a Flickr photo exhibition. What happened was that we quickly realised there was more to the group than just one simple exhibition and we set about creating something that Liverpool didn’t have at the time. Sure there are camera clubs but we set out to be a collective of photographers who were about something. We planned to do social projects instead of wedding portfolio days. Being part of Fab has changed me in many ways.

A very snowy Dale Street

February. It snowed and snowed more than I can remember it snowing in the past few years. I think 2006 was the last time it really snowed. So naturally I grabbed my gear and headed into town. St Georges Hall re-opened the Minton Floor for people to see so I had another go at photographing it.


March. A couple of protests in March. The first by students against the closure of departments at Liverpool Uni and the second by Families for Justice fighting for justice after the death of loved ones. The second was very hard to photograph. In complete contrast I spent a lot of time photographing stairs and random bits of Liverpool One for Liverpool One.


April. 20 years ago 96 people died due to the tragic events at Hillsborough. Laura Davies from the Daily Post made a very interesting point about the photo. There’s no red and there’s no blue. While the event happened during a Liverpool game it united both Liverpool and Everton fans across the city. You see Everton scarfs tied to the Shankly Gates in remembrance of the 96. The city lost family and friends that day, not just Liverpool FC. That really was one of the hardest things I’ve tried to photograph. I told myself why I was doing it but it didn’t make it easy. Why was I? A simple reason. I wanted to show people that it still mattered this much to some. I wanted to tell their story if they would let me. They did, I took the shot.

Also in April I photographed a zombie walk through the city centre. Not a whole lot of zombies but enough for a good photo or two.


May. The month of May saw the Fab Collective’s first outing. Street portraits. The aim was to see how many we could get and we got a lot. I bought a shiny new 85mm for this project, and for the future too. Fantastic lens. By the end of the month we were out again documenting Lark Lane where I met an Irish guy. Also in May I bumped into a rainbow, as you can see. I photographed Bold St News which is now a fancy restaurant. HMS Daring visited the city and there were some fireworks over One Park West.

Lord Mayors Pageant

June. The Lord Mayor’s Pageant occured on a wet and cold day, but despite that it was full of colour and life as usual. Summer time means I shoot more people and events because it seems like its easier and theres more of them. June was also the month when I moved into Liverpool and stopped photographing it from the point of view of an outsider. I’m now a part of the community. Its definitely changed my outlook on the city.


July. My first aerial shoot of the year. Crown Princess. The biggest cruise ship to visit Liverpool, at least until QM2 in October. July also saw a restaurant burn down, a crane fall on a building, more zombies, a street party in Toxteth and a rather dramatic storm. The other big thing in July was the Liverpool photowalk. I led around 30 people around the city for a few hours. It was a little daunting but good fun.


August. Fab Collective had its first major exhibition, ‘Up to something’. It was held at St Lukes, the bombed out church. That was such a brilliant month. I got to spend a lot of time in the church chatting with friends and visitors. I also got to take a lot of portraits against a white background. Not something I would normally do but they turned out great. Pictured here is Ian Jackson from Art in Liverpool and is one of my faves from St Lukes. The “Art on the Waterfront” event had some great fireworks and views. I also started going out and documenting the night life. Definitely something to photograph. Its so surreal sometimes.

September. This month saw my 30th year come to a close with a bunch of great friends. I rode the ferry a fair bit because its such an amazing thing to do. Its great seeing the cityscape draw closer. You’ve really got to do it. There was the 09:09:09 09/09/09 event and I spent a great evening watching a classic movie projected onto the Museum of Liverpool.

October. Lets just say that this was quite a month. Almost every photo I published related to the Mersey. I had some great times on the ferry. With the help of a certain anarchist of awesome, Sam, I conquered my fear of the Anglican Cathedral resulting in a photo of Hope Street and Liverpool at sunset. Fab Collective took a day trip to Southport where I met a scary woman with a bible. However, the highlight really was the Queen Mary 2. A plane wasn’t going to cut it this time so we had a helicopter lined up for awesome aerial photos. I had a great location in mind for the fireworks shots. Totally fresh take on the classic river fireworks and it worked out nicely. The view, as you can see, was just stunning. Easily the highlight of the year.

November. A quieter month. Apart from music week the year was winding down. Nothing really happened. I saw the awesome Son of Dave and a crazy band called Chrome Hoof. I saw the creation of a parking bay which was a very loud process. The Christmas lights switch on was very nice to watch too, and of course theres the big new Liverpool One wheel that everyone has photographed from almost every angle. I still have an ace or two up my sleeve for the really unique shots.

December. Finally December. A very quiet month as you can see from the number of entries, 14. To be honest I’ve been feeling very down about my photography. Unable to photograph what I really want and feeling like I’ve exhausted the normal options. With no events going on there was very little to shoot. Everyone was taking the same 50mm f/1.8 Xmas shots in town. It had all become over-saturated and I felt lost. I have been working on a project with Fab but I’ve been feeling a bit depressed about that too. I’ve taken a lot of shots for it but still feel down about the whole thing. I can’t go into detail till its all done. Its a great project though.

So anyway, thats 2009. Not as many photo ops as 2008, due to the Capital of Culture year, but on the whole there’s been some great moments in there and its been a bloody fun year. A lot has happened and its given me time to think. The main thing I will take from the year is that content is king. Its an old web design term. Basically you can build the flashiest website ever but its the content that will keep visitors coming back for more. Thats why I try to do a photo a day. It gives you a reason to revisit my site. It got me thinking about photography and how the content is the real point of the photo. Its very very easy to forget that. I think I did slightly and Flickr has reminded me about the moment, the content. You see on Flickr people comment on the technicalities more so than the moment. “Great light.” “Great bokeh.” “Nice tones.” Its like they miss the moment. The moment is king. It made me question processing. Looking at peoples work this year and you see the same shots, angles, subjects coming up time and time again. The one major difference is processing. Look at the Santa Dash for example. So my big thing that I’m taking from 2009 and applying to 2010 is to find more moments because thats what matters. Processing is the icing. If I want to stand out I’m going to need to find things others aren’t. Of course that isn’t easy but I have to try.

Finally I just want to say thanks to Talk Photography. My digital photography started many years ago on another forum. I moved on from there to Talk Photography and learnt a lot from it. Its been my home for a long time and I’ve made some good friends there. But annoyingly it just doesn’t feel like home anymore so I’ve moved on. If you are looking for a great, friendly, fun photo forum I can highly recommend it. Sure theres HDR fights, wedding photo arguments and the usual Nikon/Canon discussions but theres also a lot of talented people there who will help you out and make you a better photographer. I know because I’m proof of that. So as 2009 ends I have to wave goodbye to that side of me.

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7 responses

  1. Awesome Pete… inspiring and, well… awesome.

  2. Great work, Pete. Really interesting to read about how you view the year and where you see next year going. Hope to see this post again in 2010 and its equivalent to compare notes.

  3. Some really good work here, many thanks. I think your comments under December hit the mark.

  4. Just discovered your site recently, so this 2009 review is really appreciated. I agree with the moment thing. However, I just love the simple fact that I can travel around the world every day viewing photoblogs. You have some really pro pictures here. Thanks for the teachings they provide. And the glimpses on these special moments you witnessed. Happy New Year.

  5. nice work pete, all the best to you in 2010 may it be at least as good as 2009 😀 keep up the great work.

  6. Perfect portrait of Ian Jackson, that reflection in glasses made my day. The second picture from top is just unbelievable, so beautifully captured snow, just wow! Also love the contrast from the June shot, wet and gray street against those colorful ladies:)

  7. Great pictures! I mean these are really awesome. Love to portraiture. You people shots are really inspiring.

    The shots around Liverpool are really neat as well. Seeing you get closer and closer to the subjects is a cool process!