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Face book

New anthology of Liverpool people captures slice of life through Stephanie de Leng's lens

Published on January 6th 2010.

Face book

SOME say that the strongest attribute of Liverpool's character is its ability to tell it like it is. If that's so, then Stephanie De Leng's new book has captured it rolling over on its back and baring its soul for all to see. Not to mention its freckles, warts and all.

So for anyone who didn't “get” the place before, People in Liverpool, of all the books about the city to come out in Culture year, is required reading.

Reading? Actually there's hardly any text to speak of in this first offering by the former Vogue model who got behind the Nikon lens over a decade ago.

The 64 subjects are known only by their name and rank and that is all you need, such is the impact of the photographs themselves and the personalities they reveal, whether imagined or otherwise.

People in Liverpool is filled with the famous great and the good, and the not-so-famous but equally great and good in no order of importance whatsoever.

Playwright Willy Russell opposite Chief Constable Norman Bettinson; a grinning bobby on the beat; a smiling teenage brother and sister. And on it goes: Drummond Bone, David Fleming, Loyd Grossman, singer Connie Lush, actors Eithne Brown, Warren Donnelly (the scouse copper from Shameless who graces the cover), sacked docker Tony Nelson, and our favourite, The Mattas family, all lined up outside their wonderful shop in Bold Street.

In fact, says Stephanie, Willy Russell's enthusiasm about being photographed for the book was massively buoyed after he heard the Mattas were doing it too.

In between lurk tinkers, tailors, soldiers, sailors, and even yours truly who also arranged the commas.

Stephanie de Leng caused a minor stormette last year with her Beauty and the Beach calendar which depicted a naked lady prancing among the Gormley men on Waterloo beach.

She may be Atlanta born, London raised and of Dutch parents, but she can count herself as no stranger to the city with this captivating study. In fact, all the subjects appear remarkably at ease before the camera, as if chatting to a trusted mate.

(As to my own experience of being "shot", I spent most of the session too fascinated by the photographer's antics, her leaping on and off tables and stopping traffic outside the Casa Italia in Stanley Street, where the shoot took place, to notice much else).

Result: A sharp slice of city of Liverpool life and an extraordinary work of portraiture that stands up even if you neither know nor care about anyone in it.

All in all, bound to cause comment should you buy one of the limited edition 1,000-print run, for the smallest room, or even your coffee table.

And as for the photographer, she's apparently out snapping more people for Book Two.

Angie Sammons

People in Liverpool, Stephanie de Leng, £19.99. Available from News from Nowhere, Utility, independent retailers and also online here for £17.99.


Jean and Stuart Segal, Newlyweds

Terry Lim: Yuet Ben owner

Angie Sammons, Liverpool Confidential

Doorman, Lizard Lounge

June Lornie Liverpool Academy of Arts

Roger Phillips

Mark Featherstone Witty, Lipa

Jodie Comer, teenage actress

Mattas family

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Bold Street BoyJune 16th 2008.

Ee! I remember when Matta's were on Granby Street! O' course Bold Street were all furriers, banks and camera shops in those days! No trendy bars with pools of sick outside then! The Council wanted to rename Bold Street Shankley Parade! Thank goodness they failed (as usual).

AnonymousJune 16th 2008.

People make a big deal of the architecture in this city but I believe its the people of the city that tourists and visitors remember.

A fanJune 16th 2008.

Isn't it lovely to see the people who run Matta's all lined up like that? This gets my vote as the best shop in Liverpool and a world away from Liverpool One and its concrete nothingness. Bold Street had little to fear if it keeps on encouraging fantastic little retailers like this.

manchestermetalchickJune 16th 2008.

hey! its Al!!! (the tattooed guy). Mint picture as wlel, i might buy this n get the star to sign it. Looks like good book, i want a manchester one!

Jon StoneJune 16th 2008.

Loved the 'tennis' shot of Terry Lim in his kitchen. Very topical, Wimbledon week. How will his opponent know which vegetable to return?

Doctor WhenJune 16th 2008.

I buy my comics off that guy with the tattoos. I'll be picking this up.

born-in-bootleJune 16th 2008.

Just came across this book in FACT and although I am a student I coughed up for it as it is GREAT value for money and if you are a member of FACT you get 10% discount on top! Here is a lady who does not think everyone should move down south like those silly b..gers in the news during the last week. I heard her on City Talk last Saturday which is why I finally shifted my rear end and went to see what her book was about. She sounded great on the radio and kept on saying how she loves Liverpool and here is an ex-Vogue model who has travelled the world, lived in places like New York, Paris and Tokyo - I gorget the other cities. I believed her and everyone go and buy this book and support our city - besides it makes a great xmas present - it looks like it costs a lot more AND the price is not printed on it.

V. I. Lenin AirportJune 16th 2008.

Hear Hear Rusty Spike! It is hard to believe that Liverpool City Council’s ’08 Place’ refused to stock Miss de Leng’s tasteful calendar of nudes on Crosby beach because of the nudity; yet for months last year the lamp posts in Church Street were festooned with giant colour photographs of Yoko Ono’s exposed Brillo pad and naked jug. It seems that humbug can also be added to the already-lengthy charge sheet of our glorious leaders!!

Rusty SpikeJune 16th 2008.

Thank goodness Stephanie de Leng has ignored the obsession that a lot of photographers have locally for taking pictures of bloody cranes and the crap new buildings that festoon the city, pretentious tripe that could have been taken anywhere in the world. If I see another arty farty photo of girders or a glass fronted shed designed by talentless architects who should be horse-whipped, I'll throw up me trifle. This stuff by Miss de Leng is photo journalism at its best...people, people, people!! Take a bow behind the Nikon Miss de Leng.

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