Riding Liverpool’s Mersey Ferry (1978 – 2002)

Tom Wood's photos of people traveling between Liverpool and the Wirral peninsula

Tom Wood’s The Pier Head series of photographs focuses on faces he saw on his daily commute on the Mersey Ferry between Liverpool and the Wirral peninsula. Wood ((born Ireland, 14 January 1951) made the journey to and from his home in New Brighton for 25 years (1978 – 2002). His pictures reveal a man at ease in the environment, trusted by the people she shoots. They called him ‘Photo Man’.

 

Above Pier Head, 1985, © Tom Wood

Above Pier Head, 1985, © Tom Wood

 

“I am not trying to document or prove anything. I am interested in how life works and how photography works. I am a researcher with a camera, looking for what I know and what escapes me…
– Tom Wood

 

Seacombe Ferry, 1985, © Tom Wood

Seacombe Ferry, 1985, © Tom Wood

 

“These were people I saw daily and sometimes socially. Wallasey is a relatively small area, bordered by the river and the sea, and it wasn’t too difficult to get to know people, at least by sight.”
– Tom Wood

 

Mirror Mersey, 1989, © Tom Wood

Mirror Mersey, 1989, © Tom Wood

 

“It was just something to do. At that time I was learning about Merseyside and its people, but also about photography; learning to use a Leica and how to work candidly. I spent a great deal of time on local streets, in parks and pubs, and outside the football ground, camera in hand.”
– Tom Wood

 

Beans + Chips 2, Tower Promenade, 1990, © Tom Wood

Beans + Chips 2, Tower Promenade, 1990, © Tom Wood

 

“I’d use colour first, but it was so expensive then, and I couldn’t always afford to process it. Black and white — especially when using outdated cine film reloaded into film cassettes — cost little and allowed me to work freely. Though for many years, I carried a second Leica body with colour neg film loaded, or I’d use colour in medium-format cameras for portraits and black and white in the Leica.”
– Tom Wood

 

Above Pier Head Terminal, 1985, © Tom Wood

Above Pier Head Terminal, 1985, © Tom Wood

 

“It’s a fragile thing, being able to go out and make pictures. I don’t want to get too self-conscious about it”
– Tom Wood

 

Woodside Ferry Terminal, 1986, © Tom Wood

Woodside Ferry Terminal, 1986, © Tom Wood

The Pier Head 1979 Liverpool Mersey Ferry

The Pier Head 1979

“There was a mental hospital closing down on the outskirts of Liverpool—Rainhill. Someone asked me if I’d like to photograph that, and I said okay. That was complicated. For me it’s hard to go into a place like that and just take pictures. I’d end up talking to these people, getting to know them, having lunch with them, even staying overnight. It was a privilege—it made me realize that could be me; we can all be pushed to the breaking point.

“A project that was six weeks became, like, two years, but it was a long way away so I had to go there on the bus. I’d photograph on the bus all the way there and all the way back. The bus kind of tied all these projects together, because I always went places on it and I’d go across the river on the Mersey ferry, and photograph there. The bus terminus was at the Pier Head, where the boat docked. This was a hanging out point for retired sailors, dock workers, teenagers, as well as passengers traveling to all kinds of destinations throughout the city, so I’d always spend half an hour or so checking out the area. And this became another box of prints, work in progress. ”
– Tom Wood, Issuemagazine.com, 2016

 

The Pier Head 1985 Liverpool Mersey Ferry

The Pier Head 1985

Liverpool the Wirral Mersey Ferry The Pier Head series from Tom Wood 1989

The Pier Head series from Tom Wood 1989

Liverpool Mersey Ferry The Pier Head cafe 1988

The Pier Head cafe 1988

Bus terminus at Pier Head from 1988 Mersey Ferry Liverpool

Bus terminus at Pier Head from 1988

These images of people rising the Mersey Ferry are selected from 1000s of rolls of film taken by Tom Wood. They part of an exhibition at Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery, just two minutes away from the Mersey Ferry;’ Pier Head terminal itself.  A new book, Termini, also features a range  of images from the show.

 

Via ClairedeRouen, BJP , FT