Michelle Marshall is a well known Liverpool photographer who has worked with the likes of Explore Liverpool, Mellowtone Records and the British Music Experience. She has photographed the likes of Mark Radcliffe, Pete Best and Liverpool actress Eithne Brown. We recently caught up with her…
Liverpool Noise: What first drew you to the art of photography?
Michelle Marshall: I’ve always enjoyed taking photos, capturing moments and memories. However, I’ve only taken it seriously over the last couple of years. Over the years, whenever I went to a concert I always snuck a camera in with me – they weren’t great cameras mind, and you had to take the film to Max Speilmann’s to be developed! I recently found a bag of old photos from concerts such as Kylie Minogue, Take That and Justin Timberlake – they were awful! (the photos not the artists but it depends on your taste) They made me see how far I’ve come as nowadays with the right kit and being in the photography pit, you can get some great shots.
LN: Whose work has most influenced you, to date?
MM: I’d say Peter Neil (Shoot The Sound) has most influenced me. He’s worked with some amazing artists such as U2, Justin Timberlake, The Script and I must say, my personal favourite, Rick Astley. His images are stunning and he just captures the live show perfectly. He also has a great You Tube channel where I’ve picked up a lot of hints and tips.
LN: How would you describe your photography style?
MM: I’m not too sure I have a photography style – if I do, it was completely unintentional! I just take photos on what looks good to me, it seems to have worked so far. When shooting concerts/gigs you have just the first three songs to get some good shots so it can be a bit frantic to get the best position among the other photographers. I’m always concentrating on the artist, ready to catch the right moment, that I rarely even hear the music!
LN: Out of all your works, which is your favourite?
MM: Hmmm that’s a difficult question to just pick one! I have some images that I love from gigs but during lockdown with everything being cancelled, I’ve been taking more photos around Liverpool and have a few that I’m really proud of. But if I must pick one, it will be a series of shots I took of Edgar Jones at the Handyman Pub on Smithdown Road. A couple of my images were used on his latest album ‘The Way It Is – 25 Years of Solo Adventures – that was a really big moment for me!
LN: What type of cameras do you shoot with?
MM: At the moment I’m shooting with a Sony Alpha, which I love for its size and versatility. It’s small enough that some venues have let me take it in when I don’t have a press pass. It was the first camera I bought and was recommended to me by an experienced photographer – I’m very happy with it. But when I don’t have my camera with me, I just use my phone – Samsung Galaxy S9 – the phone cameras are really good these days and you can get some great shots.
LN: What tools do you use for post processing, and why?
MM: I mostly use apps on my phone – as my camera has wf-fi I can transfer the images across and edit on the go which is very convenient when you’re out and about. The one I use the most is Photoshop Express as I love its features and find it really easy to work with. Snapseed is a good one too.
LN: To date, what has been your favourite subject to photograph?
MM: Being in the photo pit at Haydock racecourse photographing Rick Astley was a big moment for me, especially as there were only about two photographers in there at the time. I must admit I was a bit star struck!
But I’d have to say my favourite has been working with local author Matt Jacobson over the past couple of years on his ‘On The Streets I Ran’ series and many other articles for Explore Liverpool. Matts writing is incredible – he captures a scene perfectly and it stirs so many emotions. Matt has a real vision for the images. He tells me what he
sees and off we go to capture it. He’s had me trudging through muddy football fields in the fog and almost being blown off my feet on a windy beach, but it’s all been great fun! I never know what he has written when we do our shoots, but when I see the final article, I just get it – the images capture the words perfectly. He is grateful for my work and says it adds so much to the words, The feedback for his articles is amazing, from all media, and local creatives – his work has reached the hearts of the city and beyond.
LN: What is the best bit of kit you have ever bought?
MM: The best bit of kit has to be my Sony Alpha – it’s taken things to another level which has given me so many more great opportunities. I do have a wish list though for more kit .. and it’s growing by the day!
LN: What is the worst bit of kit?
MM: I wouldn’t say I have a worst piece of kit, as being on a budget I choose carefully on what I buy when it comes to the big things like lenses etc. However, just before lockdown I bought myself a tripod with the big idea of doing some night – time long exposure photography – it’s still in the box!
LN: Projects for 2021?
MM: Hmmm, projects for this year will probably depend how the COVID situation pans out I think.. I had a full diary for 2020 but had to put it in the bin! If all goes well with the Covid recovery and restrictions are lifted, there will be lots more events coming up. I’ll be doing more work with Matt and Explore Liverpool and I’ve also worked with The British Music Experience on some of their live events, so hopefully that can resume too. Basically, I’ll turn up to whatever comes my way!