UK Urban Photography With Adam Smart
We spoke to Adam Smart, a specialist in urban photography about what it's like to shoot in the city of Liverpool.
From growing up in and around the city, he talks about his favourite things to shoot in the area along with Liverpool's sneaker scene and nightlife.
What's it Like Living and Shooting in Liverpool?
I was born just over the water from Liverpool in Wirral, but Liverpool was always part of my life. My Dad was born and bred in Liverpool, so I always saw myself as second-generation Scouser. When we were kids, we'd always come over this side with my Mum for something to do, walk around town, or head to the Game (Everton). Then, as soon as we (nearly) hit drinking age, it'd all be about coming over for the nightlife. I even went to Uni here. I still live on the Wirral, but any opportunity I get I head over to Liverpool.
What To You Makes The City Great?
The city itself is so eclectic–there's genuinely something for everyone in Liverpool. Music culture here is huge; everyone knows of the Beatles, and the Cavern Club and Mathew Street are as much of a mecca for music lovers as anywhere I know. The nightlife sees people come from all over the country to have a night out here–and from experience, there's nowhere better–literally tonnes of great pubs and bars for everyone.
Then there's the art and architecture, which is such a mood of its own, from the iconic waterfront idols like the Liver Building and Albert Dock to the two Cathedrals, the Museums, and of course, Saint Johns beacon.
The skyline here is just unlike anything else. You go from Georgian to Modern, then back within 20 paces, it's insane.
So many of my pictures on my feed are of these iconic buildings.
But most of all, it's probably the people. Scousers are the friendliest people with the best sense of humour, period. Even with the Red side, they can take a laugh too. Being the capital of Culture was a big deal, and people wore it as a badge, everyone's proud to be from around here.
What's Liverpool's Sneaker culture and Urban wear scene like?
The sneaker culture in Liverpool for me is always synonymous with Nike Air Max 95's and TN's. I don't think there's a person here who hasn't owed either one or the other, and it doesn't change year to year. When the Neons were re-released in SIZE? In December, there was a queue of literally hundreds and hundreds of people trying to get a pair. More and more lately styles like Element Reacts, Vapormax, Air Force's and Air Max 270s have been popular, but nothing on the '110s' scale.
The last few years at least, the streetwear scene is so performance and sport casual inspired. Half zips, tight fit running pants, leggings, and gym wear are everywhere, and they are worn now more as casual apparel. Sometimes you can't tell if someone's on the way to the gym or off out for food. You've still got the MET Quarter and some very fashion-centric brands here, too. It's a day and night thing, people wear what they want, how they want and make it theirs.
What Subcultures Do You See a Lot of in Your City?
There's so many! I think that's what is a huge reason that so many International Students come to Liverpool, there's genuinely something for everyone here. There's a Skate scene really growing at the minute, but there's everything, from Everton Da's, Fashionistas, a huge LGBTQ+ scene, Sports Mavens, John Head, and of a diverse population from all over the globe. The key thing you'll get from it is that all of Liverpool is inclusive. Everyone can be whoever they are here and are accepted.
You see it any time the city unites, whether its issues on Food Poverty or telling Tommy Robinson to do one, everyone stands up for everyone. Inclusion and diversity are important here.
What Urban Areas Do You Shoot The Most, And Why?
For me, when I shoot, I always head out towards Pier Headfirst. That total area has so much, but the Liver Building has always been something that has fascinated me and is so synonymous with the city. I've got family friends from Scotland, and one of the first places they wanted to see when they came down was 'The Building off Brookside'. Lately, the entire area was used to film the new Batman film, and so many people comment on insta saying 'it looks like Gotham'. But really, Gotham looks like Liverpool! It's great to put the city on the map in a different way, and hopefully bring a whole more people up to see everything the city offers.
With most of my shots from the Drone, I always try to smash out an angle that most people wouldn't have seen, grab different perspectives of the buildings people are used to just walking past.
My most popular picture has been one of the Liver Birds up close because most people usually spot them from ground level.
Where Do You Like to Hang?
It really depends on what mood you're in; sometimes it's good to head down Crosby Beach for a walk. The waterfront is hugely popular, all the way from beaches at Formby to all the way at the other end by Otterspool and everywhere in between. Pierhead on the steps of the museum and around the dock is such a vibe too.
Summer nights down there are just packed, and it's such a wonderful atmosphere. At the docks, there's definitely something so relaxing about shooting there at night. I'm a huge advocate of mental health walks, and heading there with the camera, and the drone is always a zen moment for me.
It's crazy how much more creative you can be and the quality difference in work when you find that calm.
A place that we try to hit up on a night out is Bar Ca Va or head further up past Concert Square to Slaters–there's probably a few million people who have forgotten a boss night out after going there.
Goodison Park will always win with me though, I remember from the first time my Dad took me there it's been a place of ecstasy and disappointment in equal measure. I can't wait to get back in there once it's safe.
Any tips for Urban Photographers On Instagram?
Instagram's always seen as a huge barometer for success for yourself, but really, it's about not getting taken up with competing with other people or begging for likes. Find ways and means of expressing you in your pictures, even if it's not a popular style, go for it. And be sure to use your first pictures on your own profile as a point of reference.
Mine were TERRIBLE! But I've got better and found my style now—progression rocks! Never be too proud to ask others for tips either on styles or locations too, I've made some good mates through just asking for advice. Mostly though, show people things they want to see, just through your eyes.
Be sure to check out all of Adam's skilled work on Instagram: @Droner_Alert