In August 2017, the Liver Hotel in Waterloo, Liverpool, put on the Waterloo Ukulele Fun Festival – or ‘WUFF’, to go by its rather fun acronym.

The Liver is a family-friendly pub with a really great garden of decent size. It used to be a bowling green, but in recent times it’s been converted to a proper pub garden. It now comes complete with children’s play equipment and wonderfully oversized table umbrellas to shelter you in even the wettest weather.

The festival was, unsurprisingly, a day of ukulele-based music. It featured acts from individual musicians to ukulele orchestras, packing out the small stage and spilling out onto the grass. There were a few other attractions, such as henna tattoos, face painting and raffles. The place was packed and it was an utterly fun day.

But, the corner of the festival that stood out for me was that occupied by Dennis Sainter. Dennis was making ukuleles and, for the princely sum of £20, we could buy a ukulele with a body made from a small, square canvas, which the children could decorate with pens and glitter glue before having the fretboard and strings attached. (My two girls managed to pile so much glitter glue onto theirs, it took nearly the whole afternoon to dry before Dennis could finish making the instrument.)

Dennis was a lovely man, and was very kind to let me take a few photos of him. I really do love photographing people as they work. I have so many photos from the day, but these ones of Dennis are definitely my favourites.

Dennis Sainter in his canvas gazebo, looking out, talking to someone.
Dennis in his gazebo in the corner of the garden
Dennis working at his table with six handmade ukuleles on the grass in front of him.
Dennis working at his table, with some of his handmade instruments made from an assortment of materials and recycled goods; one’s even made from a lump hammer
Dennis looking down a fretboard to make sure it's straight.
Fretboard assessment
A closeup of Dennis' hands using a small hacksaw to remove excess metal from frets on a fretboard.
Hacksawing the frets
Dennis with his two young assistants.
Dennis with his two young assistants
Dennis and one of his assistants talking to a man.
Deep in conversation
Dennis talking to a man who's holding one of his handcrafted ukuleles.
Dennis’ alternative instruments were going down a storm
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