Peter was born and raised in Liverpool, England. His early years were during the beginning of WWII, and the main form of entertainment in those days (and a release from the German bombings that often hit his part of town) was weekly visits to the movie theatre showing the latest American releases. This is where Peter's interest in the entertainment field started. Long before the "British Invasion" of the early 1960's, Liverpool and London were areas where stars of the stage, screen, and concert halls migrated. Peter was an avid fan. He attended all the shows and concerts and waited back stage to collect autographs. He began writing to celebrities and corresponded with many over the years as he amassed his autograph collection. In the 1960's, Peter attended Liverpool College of Art where he studied design, which certainly influenced his ability to uniquely set the layout of photographs he took years later. While in school he regularly attended the Cavern underground club where one would go in early Saturday evening and leave sometime early Sunday morning. While there groups such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones either performed or were part of the audience. Peter became personal friends of many performers from Liverpool who later became famous during the "Invasion".
In his early 20's, Peter Lived at times in London, Rome, and Athens where he worked for entertainment magazines and wrote articles about events that he attended, such as the Cannes Film Festival. It was during this period of time that his interest in photography began to develop. Over the years, Peter began to amass a very extensive collection of photographs of people he met. He attended many events and met many famed individuals of the time. He always took time to research people before meeting them and was able to talk with them about their careers, their travels, and even their families. This impressed the people he met, and they felt comfortable in his company; many became personal friends over the years. This comfort level made it easy to photograph celebrities, as he would be talking with them and taking candid photos during the process....their comfort level always translated into the way he captured the personality of those individuals. Lauren Bacall often rolled her eyes and laughed when she entered a rehearsal room or a performance site and saw Peter..."God, I should have known you'd be here!" Pavarotti loved the photos Peter took of him during the filming of "Yes, Georgio" here in Boston, and after seeing the photos, arranged to have one of them used for the cover of his upcoming album "Passione". Photographer Yousuf Karsh became quite friendly with Peter; they spent time going over his portfolio, and compared their styles for making one comfortable in order to capture their essence in a photograph. Katherine Hepburn, who notoriously avoided photographers, so enjoyed Peter's style that she would play with him as he tried to photograph her (with her permission, of course)....she would put on a big smile, laugh, and then hide behind something and giggle "Now you can't get me!" During a rehearsal photo session in Radio City Music Hall, Peter watched Elizabeth Taylor cautiously approach Bette Davis-----who was very stand-offish at this point in her career---and say "Hello, Bette....it's Elizabeth"......Bette promptly snarled "Elizabeth who...." and looked away. Audrey Hepburn, who was the goodwill embassador to UNICEF, often chatted with Peter about the movies, theater, and their English background and was always amazed at his knowledge of the field. At their last encounter in New york, when she had been very ill for some time, she approached him and sadly said she "....I just wanted to say goodbye....."
Peter's favorite part of photography was the people. He didn't just collect photographs, he somehow collected the people as well.
The Peter Warrack Photography Archive
- by Jared Gendron
- March 31, 2015
- 3 min read