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Meet the street photographer behind ‘Humans of Liverpool’

2 months ago

Meet the street photographer behind ‘Humans of Liverpool’
Pictures - Humans of Liverpool

When Adam Thompson took his first photograph for Humans of Liverpool, it needed all his nerve to go up and ask questions of a total stranger.

But the response was so unexpected that it gave him the encouragement he needed and the account, which creates a snapshot insight into ordinary Liverpool people’s lives, grew from there.

That was back in 2018, not long after 27-year-old Adam graduated from university. Now Humans of Liverpool has thousands of followers and he spends his weekends videoing and photographing interesting new subjects.  

“Everyone’s first response when I approach them is, ‘I haven’t really got a story’ but then once you start talking to them, everyone has,” he says.

“It’s not always the big grandiose stories where people have achieved things, it’s more someone’s ability to express an emotion or a time in their life that then connects with other people. It could be a really simple thing that’s happened but it’s just the way they walk about it.”

Former Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson] Picture – Humans of Liverpool/ Adam Thompson

For Adam, who lives in Halewood, Humans of Liverpool became a passion project after he was inspired by similar accounts for New York and Amsterdam.

“I studied at Loughborough University and being away made me really appreciate how great Liverpool is, how lovely the people are, how cool the city is, and there’s just so much going on.

“I’d seen Humans of New York and of Amsterdam and thought, why isn’t there one in Liverpool? There are so many characters, so many brilliant stories, so I thought I’m going to do it as soon as I finish my degree and come back.”

Humans f Liverpool Adam Thompson - Photographer - The Guide Liverpool
Picture – Humans of Liverpool/ Adam Thompson

While he was busy applying for graduate jobs, Adam loaned a camera from his grandad and went off in search of his first interviewee.

“I just started walking around town quite nervously,” he remembers. “I didn’t really know how to approach people because it wasn’t something I’d done before so I had to get up the guts to do it.

“The first one I did was an older guy who was sitting on the steps at St John’s Centre waiting for his wife to do the shopping. I just went over to him and introduced myself and one of the questions I asked him was what his biggest struggle was. He said, ‘I feel like no one listens to me anymore. I used to be a lecturer and I worked on the microchip for the first Mp3 player but now I’ve got older no one cares about my opinion and my industry and academia has moved on without me.’ 

“I thought, wow, if the first person I interview has got such an amazing story, there’s going to be thousands more out there. 

“I’m really glad I had a bit of bottle and pushed myself to go up to him because if I hadn’t got that first story it might not have given me the confidence and enthusiasm to want to keep doing it.”

Adam initially focused on busy city centre areas like Church Street and Bold Street, capturing characters including Pete the Busker.

Humans f Liverpool Adam Thompson - Photographer - The Guide Liverpool
Pete the Busker Picture – Humans of Liverpool/ Adam Thompson

Post-Covid he moved to quieter parts of the city where subjects potentially have more time to stop and chat, especially now he’s added a video element to his posts.

“At first I wanted to capture the buskers, including Pete, and tell the stories of the people you walk past every day but don’t know anything about.

“But it’s such a diverse city, I don’t try and curate it too consciously. It’s nice to just take time to interview people from different backgrounds and different ages and around the Georgian Quarter, Hope Street, Duke Street, and Sefton Park it feels a bit slower pace.

“You develop an instinct for people who look open to conversation, and someone who speaks to you in some way, either what they’re wearing, their facial expressions, and especially older people who look like they’ve lived a life.

“Also I never stop people who look like they’re in a rush because I never want to make someone late or ruin their day!”

Picture – Humans of Liverpool/ Adam Thompson

Adam says the positive response and comments he gets means he’s planning to keep doing what he’s doing, although he does have plans for Humans of Liverpool in future.

“I try not to look at followers as a target because I think social media can be too much about likes and followers, but if I can just continue to have the impact I’m having then I’ll be happy.

“I did a Humans of Bold Street exhibition before Covid so I’d like to do another exhibition and potentially put stories into a collection for a book, that’s one of my other goals.”

Follow Humans of Liverpool on Instagram HERE.

Get the latest for Liverpool HERE.

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