Jane MacNeil talks about her street photography project, documenting the streets of her hometown.
I started Streets of Liverpool six years ago after some coaching sessions I had with a friend. I used the sessions to get more structure and focus with photography. Up until then, I’d just been randomly uploading photos to Flickr. It turned out that the friend I received the coaching from had registered the Streets of Liverpool domain a couple of years previously, but had never done anything with it, and she kindly offered it to me and I ran with it.
I’ve spent so much time walking around the city I’ve started to recognise people. I think I know them from someplace, I try to remember their names, then realise, I don’t know them at all.
There’s the couple who I only ever see on a Monday. They look like they’re doing their weekly shop. Another couple who push their dog around in a dog pram. Then there’s the lady who I once took a photo of sitting on a bench in Williamson Square — the next time I saw her was almost two years to the day I took that photo, and she was sitting on the same bench.
Sometimes you’re out doing street photography, other times you can’t get into the zone and you just amble around the city, making sure everything’s okay. Then there’s the light, you discover a little slither, the way it falls on a building at a certain time of day and you make repeat visits trying to make a photo of it.
Looking is what we do when we step off a curb, open a door, look at a watch. Seeing is perception. Fleeting moments, subtle gestures. Anticipating what someone will do next with telepathic precision. Then there’s luck, but you have to be open to it. Like the stag getting handcuffed to a lamppost, right on queue a bus with an advert on the side of it that says “With a little help from my friends” pulls into shot. It’s as if a film crew had wheeled that bus into shot.