Since my last post, I’ve been away on holiday in Dorset for a week and we’re just back from a long weekend in East Sussex to celebrate my husband’s birthday. On both trips, I was with family and unable to do serious photography. In fact I didn’t bother bringing a camera on the second trip. In some ways, that’s nice but it’s a strange thing when you turn your hobby into your job. You’d perhaps imagine that you’d have more time for your hobby as it’s now your work but, in fact, you have less, and those close to you tend to object more when you get the camera out on holiday!
I did have some fun with a camera last week, however. There was a storm at Newhaven and I was, for once, available so I popped down for a couple of hours of being repeatedly smacked in the face with sea spray. It was better than the forecast and I actually stopped making photos after a while and just enjoyed the spectacle. I lack the words to express how important these moments are to me; I was grinning all the way home. I can’t share any of the photographs I made as I prefer a slower work flow so here’s one I made earlier.
Which leads me on to a slightly sticky situation. Since I published my Sirens photographs, a lot of people have taken up photographing the waves at Newhaven and many of them choose to create photographs in my style. Of course, they are perfectly entitled to make photographs there and I teach workshops there so I can hardly object. Things perhaps go a little far when someone starts to name their photos after mythical beings and practically uses my very words when talking about pareidolia and gods in Newhaven’s waves. This happened this week with a picture captured by another photographer that was published in the national newspapers and BBC website. I was inundated with emails, texts and direct messages about it. All rather tedious. Every one of us stands on the shoulders of those who went before us but we should always acknowledge our influences. This is not just a matter of ethics (although that ought to be a concern for photographers, just like everyone else, surely) but it’s also a case of being true to yourself. If you don’t recognise when you are copying someone else’s voice, how will you ever find your own?
In happier news, on Thursday I drove down to Taylor Jones and Son in Deal to deliver some prints and books. They’ve had an extension since I was there last and I was excited to see. It’s even bigger than I imagined! It truly has become a destination gallery. Richard and Sonia (Taylor-Jones) have worked hard and they deserve their success – it was really good to catch up with them. The prints I delivered included a 1.4m Niobe and she will be on the walls soon. The print is 12/12 so it’s the last chance to see her in exhibition in this country.
Last month I published a collection of ‘wave monsters’. I have been down to the South Coast almost every week all through the winter, working mainly on fast-shutter captures of high seas. That’s a round trip of 140 miles at least once every week, usually getting down there in time for dawn. Often, my efforts have been rewarded with poor light or even driving rain. But it has still been one of my most exhilarating projects so far. Finally, my patience paid off, when Storm Imogen hit the coast earlier this month. Epic surf met great light, and I was one very happy, wave-obsessed photographer. So, I hope you will forgive me for one more surf-orientated post. If, like me, you are addicted to seascapes, there are more on my website.
I am currently working on a presentation that I have agreed to give at a group exhibition in Lyme Regis later this month. The topic is the coast. I thought I might share ideas here as I go. I have always had an ambivalent relationship with the sea. I was brought up in a seafaring family and a large chunk of the first eleven years of my life was spent at sea. Unfortunately, I never got over my chronic sea sickness. Without wanting to labour the point, this meant that I spent quite a lot of time staring over the side of the boat! I have found the sea’s motion fascinating ever since (but I still prefer to observe it from the shore).