First of all ladies, an apology – when I first approached Liam he wasn’t wearing a shirt but I let him put his shirt back on before taking any photos. You will just have to believe me when I say that he is ripped … but then he would be as he is a finely honed athlete!
Liam is in fact Liam Collins and some of our UK contingent may well recognise him as half of Faces of Disco that reached the finals of Britain’s Got Talent.
Odd!!! So how did a finely honed athlete find himself dancing on Britain’s Got Talent?
When I first saw Liam he was just starting his street act but I ignored him and carried on looking for a stranger but nobody caught my eye so I started walking back to work – and past Liam again but now he was saying something about trying to get to the Olympics as part of the GB bobsleigh team. This piqued my interest so I stopped to watch his act which quickly moved on from the interesting story to the actual act itself which amounted to a rendition of YMCA whilst the duo donned a series of celebrity face masks.
By now I had resolved to ask him to take part in my strangers project but when they had finished I simply donated to his cause and wished him luck then stepped back until it was clear they had received all the donations they were going to get. At this point I asked him if I could take his photo and he happily agreed which came as no surprise given his street act and brush with fame on TV as well as the publicity that must accompany his competitive dreams. Nonetheless I explained very briefly about the project.
I had missed most of the story so I asked what the problem with funding is and the gist of the story is that lottery funding would only be granted if the team could reach the top 8 in the world and they are currently 20th. Liam reckons that to get into the top 8 would take £80K for a new bobsleigh and another £200K for the team to cover training, travel & expenses.
Liam is off to join the team this Sunday and will return to the UK on 4 December before jetting off again on the 4 January to compete in the European Championships in Germany.
I took a couple of photos of Liam then he grabbed a mask and held it up so I asked which was his favourite mask but he replied that he “hates them all” so we went with the Simon Cowell mask anyway but I asked him to put it on rather than hold it up. In a way I wanted to use the joke shot as the main portrait or perhaps create a diptych but ultimately I have gone with the straight portrait because behind the fun story there is the serious matter of a man’s dreams and that deserves respect.
Digging about on the internet a bit reveals that Liam was originally an athlete (by which I mean he competed in athletics) and very nearly made it to the 2004 Summer Olympics so Liam I wish you all the best attaining your new dream to make it to the 2014 Winter Olympics and thank you very much for taking time to participate in my project.
This picture is #53 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the 100 Strangers Flickr Group page