I’ve always photographed landscapes. Coastal scenes are a firm favourite due to the constantly changing variations in land, tide, sky and weather that offer remarkable opportunities for capturing dramatic and dynamic images.
I live within walking distance of local beaches on the North Wales coast. With 250 miles of diverse coastline, beaches aren't hard to come by in this area. Access to the many photographic opportunities of the region is partly why Katrina and I moved here nearly four years ago. The coast creates a sensory experience like no other and I strive to portray the unique atmosphere in my images. My love of photography brought me to the shore, but I have found a deeper, physical, emotional and uplifting experience. I’m reminded we are part of something larger – a natural continuum that requires our respect and protection.
During this past year that has been so unlike any other, the Coronavirus pandemic has mostly reduced our world in Wales to walking or short driving distances. None of us have ever experienced this enforced removal of so many things that we once took for granted. My solace has been the coast - COVID-safe, a world away from masks, gloves, sanitiser, quarantine and fear - a cherished sanctuary from our changed reality.
The wonderful light found in the golden and blue periods of the day motivates and inspires me. The period before sunrise can be one of the most uplifting experiences that I can think of. I usually arrive at the beach as the light is beginning to change, blue becomes the dominant colour and land forms are no more than silhouettes. The hint of warmer light that begins below the horizon, slowly reveals itself before painting the sky increasing shades of red, orange and yellow as the landscape gets bathed in soft, golden tones. The sun bursts into the sky and a new day has dawned. This process is mostly repeated in reverse at the end of the day. Witnessing a beautiful colour soaked sunset evokes a satisfying calmness that reinforces the felling that we should be thankful for the gift of each day. And even though my visit is usually motivated by photographic opportunities, an evening always ends with a period of calm reflection; listening to the waves, feeling the sea breeze, watching the dying embers of light illuminate distant clouds.
Throughout these miraculous transformations is the sea; constant rhythmic repercussions in approach and retreat. Often I’m stood ankle-deep in lapping waves that push and tug at me, testing one's balance. On other occasions the wet sand left after a high tide reflects the the light and colours of the sky, a myriad of blues and golds blended into horizontal patterns across the undulations of the sand.
I photograph with an iPhone and while adhering to the rules of lockdown, my unobtrusive, simple photographic equipment can be easily taken with me at all times. My permitted daily exercise becomes a chance to escape into photographic opportunities and forget the ongoing challenges of a global pandemic.
Respecting the ‘stay local’ restrictions has meant that my coastal visits have centred mainly around the nearby beaches of Llanddulas, Pensarn and Kinmel Bay. I have captured many images on this part of the shoreline prior to COVID and I decided to challenge myself to produce something different. My objective has been to capture an interpretation of what I see and feel that hopefully connects the viewer to the scene in a more surreal and expressive way. This meant taking my photography in a different direction, away from the confines of technical perfection and into a space that is more impulsive and far less predictable. What began as a creative distraction has led to artistic compulsion.
I envy the ability of an artist to express context and emotion with a stroke of brush or knife amid textured layers of paint. I am searching for this same freedom of creativity in my photography. During this past year I’ve wanted to portray the impact of witnessing awesome vistas and unbridled forces in a personal way. Over the years I’ve enjoyed experimenting with new ways to capture light and illustrate movement, often a result of the influence of impressionistic art.
The images in my Coastal Impressions series are created in an abstract style that captures a scene with impressionistic, free-flowing camera movements and in-camera multi-exposures. These are re-imagined coastal scenes that reveal a personal interpretation of light and form. The result of emotion and spontaneity, a piece of art that reveals new meaning and secrets with each viewing. Each image can never be repeated, they are unique, intimate; a view of a world within a world. I don’t possess the ability to capture these scenes in oil or watercolour but I have found a way to express myself in much the same way.
In reality, I can’t replicate the salt on my lips, the smell of kelp, the feeling of crashing waves that break around my feet, the screech of the gulls or the chattering pebbles as the water rushes through the rocks. But the promise of nearing that perfection, of sharing that experience is what motivates me and my iPhone to return time and again.