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The Man Behind the Camera - Mark McNulty

One of the most talented photographers in the country, Mark McNulty has worked with some of the world's most celebrated Musicians, Creatives and Art during his career as a portrait and documentary photographer spanning three decades. His repertoire of work includes everyone from the late Dame Vivienne Westwood to Bjork and Paul McCartney while his images of the 90s club scene make him Northern Legend.

Who or what inspired you to become a photographer? Was it a passion that you made your job?


Well it was very much a hobby in the early days that turned into a job. I got my first camera when I was 14. At the time there was a big thing about photography as a hobby. David Bailey was on TV advertising Olympus cameras and there used to be programmes on for amateur photographers. So I became a hobbyist, Just photographing everything and anything when I could afford the film. I also got into music at the same time (starting with The Beatles) and I loved the imagery that went with it, as well as that of the 60’s in general. There was the mod revival in 1979 and that played a part too as just one of those things that went into the melting pot. The things I was into and the things that played a part in influencing the way I took photographs. 

Now everyone has got a camera on their phone, has it changed anything for you as a professional photographer? Have you had to change or adapt? And do you ever use the camera on your phone or are you strictly camera only?

It’s changed everything. How I create photographs and how we share them.  Photography is visual information and we’re in an age where we’re seeing massive changes in how information is delivered and so much of that information is visual. So we’re surrounded by photography more than we ever have been.  On one hand my work is shrinking. You’ve got clients shooting their own photographs on mobile phones and way more photographers out there to compete with. But, at the same time, all of these new digital technologies and ways of sharing are helping it grow and I’ve got years of old school experience to back it up. So adapting and changing is essential and for the most part, I embrace it. Saying that, I don’t really use my phone for serious photos and I mostly use it as just a digital notebook and I also don’t really produce much in the way of social media video content. I’ve got most of the other channels like Instagram and Twitter but I’ve stopped short at Tik Tok. Don’t think I’ll be competing with the likes of Wakey Wines too soon!

You have photographed some of the most famous and iconic figures in the world, have you ever been starstruck or disappointed? And have any of them given you any pearls of wisdom or can you share any funny ditties?


Well I’ve worked a lot in music and I’ve ended up working with a lot of my heroes. When I was a teenager, I had posters of the The Beatles and The Jam on my bedroom wall and I’ve  worked with both Paul McCartney and Paul Weller. And whilst I’m never starstruck at work, and just seem to get on with it mostly unflustered, I’m sometimes trying to pinch myself at the same time. But job first and all that. In fact, when I photographed Paul McCartney, it was all very last minute and it all seemed very normal but I actually got starstruck about 24 hours later.  I’m also rarely disappointed and most people are just lovely.  I mean who wants to upset the photographer when they’re then going to take and choose a photo of you that’s going to hang around until God knows when. As for pearls of wisdom, I’m not so sure but I have got a lot of funny memories.  

Any advice for budding photographers wanting to make it a career?


Just take photographs and just take photographs all of the time. Photograph your world and see what makes you happy.  When I was young, I loved photography and I loved music, so I photographed the musicians that I met and the clubs that I went to. I believed in both of those things  and I understood how they worked. And somehow it came together for me. I’d also say be nice to people and try and get on with people as, second to being a good photographer, getting work is very much based on relationships.  Especially if you want to work in an industry where you’re going to meet lots of people. In an age when so much is about numbers of likes and shares on social media, it’s also very important to get out there and meet people. And ask people who are already out there doing the work. Approach them and ask questions.

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Love Jo & Rachel


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