What do we look like? Well, if you grabbed the chance to watch the VBS hour long documentary ‘Beautiful Liverpool’ on our site last week, we look a little, um, sad.

Who knew our lads were even more orange than our lasses? Who knew everyone in town knows Amanda Moss? Who recognised the city they call home?

Well, in part maybe. But mostly we saw cynicism, desperation and the same, lame targets being coerced into reinforcing the same old stereotypes.

Cheap shots.

So we thought it only fair to redress the balance – and talk to someone who knows the true story. Someone whose refreshing and playful eye focuses in on a city that’s far more interesting, surprising and, yes, stylish than any tired and lazy documentary could ever show.

Because, let’s face it, if you want to know how beautiful we really are, you’ve got to do more than just scratch the surface.

SevenStreets: How did you get started in fashion?

Matt Ford (pic l): Certainly not intentionally. I always wanted to be an artist/painter when I was growing up. I found photography a great way to express creativity though, so photographing fashion just progressed from that.

What made you choose fashion photography over anything else?

Portrait and documentary photography can be challenging, but your aim is simply to capture something that’s already there. With fashion photography you’re directing every possible element of the image. You’re creating something completely new.

Since you began chronicling it, how has the Liverpool fashion scene changed?

There are still the girls who buy into the whole ‘blag wag’ look, which the national press seem to be homing in on more again lately. However to say this is what Liverpool is all about has definitely become outdated.

Scouse girls love fashion, and for the first time in Liverpool they can actually get hold of it instead of sticking to the backstreet boutiques.

Because of this, the likes of Philip Armstrong, Kirsty Doyle and Claudia Pink have taken it one step further and built up their brand’s reputation with such sophistication that Scouse style has become cool again. Let’s just hope we can stay out of the papers for the wrong reasons, although lately it’s like fighting a loosing battle.

How are we perceived outside of the city?

We’re back on the map with out a doubt. After my last trip to London in February I spotted a picture of Rebecca Ferguson on an a3 board amongst the window display in one of the hipper vintage stores on Portobello road. One of my new clients Phillip Armstrong – who famously dressed Danni Minogue for one of the X Factor finals, and Katy Perry for her husband’s latest premier – now has even bigger national presence.

If you count the other Liverpool designers that are being picked up by ASOS or celebrities that are being featured in Vogue, then I think you can safely assume the Liverpool style brand has the potential to go where it should do. I can’t deny I’m so let down by news reports of the races and the VBS documentary.

Who are the city’s style icons?

Rebecca Ferguson is the current flavour of the month, and rightly so, she’s proudly championing all things homegrown. Let’s hope she becomes as big as she deserves and not another X Factor flash in the pan.

If you’re talking about just within Liverpool itself, Scouse modelling super brand and cupcake maker Amanda Harrington has created an army of dedicated wanna-bees.

WAGS: Damaging to our reputation? Or a Godsend? And are we over them yet?

I may be a little biased answering this question. When I worked with Chantelle Tagoe (Emile Heskey’s wife) during the World Cup last year, Channel 4 was mid way though the run of the documentary she was in, Wags in Africa. After she got back from filming she used her fame to raise over £25,000 for the orphans featured on the show. No one can say that’s setting a bad example.

Are Liverpool models different to work with than models from elsewhere?

There’s a tendency for Liverpool models to be defiant when it comes to the hair and makeup direction. I’ve had girls disappear to the toilet and totally change their look to their usual Saturday night style (or Tuesday afternoon style in some cases). I’ve learnt my lesson and now always try to find out a girl’s attitude towards a shoot before I work with them. There are a few hidden gems out there, but you have to look.

How difficult is it to establish yourself as a fashion photographer in the north?

It’s been a slow process, there’s no such thing as photography agents in Liverpool so half the work, if not more, is simply finding it. I’ve had to do a lot of free work to get noticed by the people with money. But as with any job if you percivier you get what you want.

How do you describe your style?

I try and take inspiration from different media each time I brainstorm a project. Nothing’s left to chance. So I hope my style will keep bringing something new to the table. When I select a shot I always look for the picture that’s the odd one out, something unexpected.

Who do you admire?

The Liverpool visionaries, like Debra Boyde who really pulled the cat out the bag last year and pulled off an amazing debut Pride Festival or burlesque performer Millie Dollar for daring to be different and building up her brand. People like this, who don’t have it handed on a plate, are a real inspiration.

Tell us about your blog, Firecracker fashion.

It’s an online record of my best photography work. I also post newsworthy updates about my clients such as collection previews, clothes give-aways, fashion event pictures and stories.

There are also exclusive interviews with everyone from up and coming models to the managing director of Nicole Farhi and then sometimes I just post the odd casual rant. I try to keep it all my photography but I’ve taken quite a few written submissions from other bloggers and writers if it fits the bill

What’s right about Liverpool now?

Empty sun bed shops.

What’s wrong with Liverpool now?

Plans for a Liverpool version of The Only Way Is Essex. The way TV is edited this will just put Liverpool back ten years. It’s sad to think the nation thinks this is the only culture Liverpool has to offer, because we know there is so much more.

Firecracker Fashion Blog

3 Responses to “A Single Man”

  1. Hi Matt, i’ve just looked at Don McCullin’s work. Blown away. The story behind his images are very emotive. I have read other interviews on here about local documentary photographers, and their distaste in airbrushed commercial imagery. It’s my style so each to their own.

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