BEACH X TTM

 

Editorial Brief: I want this to be a story of two people whom care deeply about each other. It will be through the use of both body and facial language that we show this connection, which can be either platonic or romantic. I want there to be room for the viewer to have their own interpretation of the photographs. By pairing my imagery with my own poetry, it will give a complete sense of the beach and the story of these two characters. The photographs will visually tell a story, and the poems will describe the deeper feelings, allowing the reader to experience the smaller things that happened within these pictures.

This has been one of those projects that has been building up for a while, but took no real form until early May. I have always looked to tell stories with my photography, and I've been practising this skill over the past months with both landscapes and portraits, mixing into a sort of documentary/travel style feel. Focusing on my own ideas and refining how I capture particular stories or feelings has been very eye-opening for me. It's allowed me the time and space to feel freely about the world around me and the lifestyle I would like to capture.


PLANNING & PREPARATION

I have been a fan of several photographers whom have influenced and helped shape the work in this editorial, mainly @1924house. These guys are such a huge inspiration to me, sharing genuine and honest stories about their lives, as well as the outlook that they have towards growing, living and appreciating what is around them. They're an extremely talented and hardworking bunch of creatives, whom sell beautiful works that they have photographed, written or designed themselves. I would urge you guys to go read through some of Christian's stories that are shared via his Instagram, and even hire them for some branding if you can afford it.

The concept for this editorial started all fuzzy and blurred in my mind, struggling to take a form of its own due to my lack of experience within this area. I knew what I wanted it to feel like; warm and homely; rustic and old fashioned yet intimate. I started by opening up Pinterest and creating a secret board full of the colours I got those feelings from, eventually selecting some final images and creating some concept boards, which I have below. I don't know all of the photographers whom took these beautiful photographs, which is one major downside to using Pinterest to gather images. The only image I can credit is the last shot of a beach fire, taken by Bailey Wilday whom is a young photographer and vlogger from Tasmania, Australia. He captures absolutely breathtaking landscapes and portraits in Tassie, and is one of my favourite photographers (as well as being solely responsible for why Tasmania is so high up on my list of places to visit). His editing creates stunning tones and feelings of contentment, which was the vibe I was going for in this editorial shoot.

 

After gathering the colour palette concept boards, I contacted Tyne Tees Models and shot them an email asking to use some of their models for this shoot. I managed to get Sophie Grieve-Hunter and Joe West whom both fitted perfectly with the style I was going for. I've worked with Sophie previously, and she truly is wonderful to work with. Neither of us had worked with Joe before, but it was amazing to see him enjoying the shoot and sharing some of his own ideas with us as the day got on.

Being my first styled shoot, I was giddy with both excitement and nervousness for how it would go. I bought some props to help set the scene, things like: blankets, food, cushions, bowls, wicker baskets - the lot. I then set things up in my own back garden to decide on layout and angles, what kind of camera lens to use etc. I found this process was really helpful because it allowed me to develop more of an idea of what I wanted from Sophie and Joe during the shoot. I can honestly say that the shoot went better than I expected because it took its own shape and form throughout the day, evolving into something I'm so happy and proud of. 

The Change of Seasons

 

March came and the first signs of spring were emerging. Slowly, snowdrops fought to the surface against hard ground, then the land seemed to swell from the thaw and birds started to chirp in the early hours. Sunlight spilled through my windowpane, diffusing through condensed glass before casting a glow of promise into my attic room, waking me from groggy sleep. I never seemed to get enough rest during winter. The long hours of darkness merged both days and nights together. Comfort of warm blankets became increasingly desired, and leaving the cosiness felt unnatural. It wasn't until spring had started properly, bringing more hours of daylight with it, that I started to feel like the hibernation was over and I could truly stretch out with yawn, ready to start the day.

I'll never tire of the fresh air that fills my lungs whilst I watch the sun rise on cool mornings, enjoying the view with a smile lingering at the corner of my mouth. Mist lifted from the fields, casting beautiful pastel tones across my field of vision. Drives to and from home were spent watching the lambs skip and jump in the warmth of sunny days, a blissful break from the rain and fog that liked to hug the ground. Packing up my car, and finishing the warm mug of sugary tea, I headed off towards Scotland for my first adventure on home turf in 2018. 

It had been long awaited, and I'd held my fingers crossed for better weather. This luck didn't seem to kick in until the last two days, which I had spent in the Cairngorms with the reindeer. Regardless of the rain, the adventure had been successful, and I’d picked up some new interests along the way. I’d stalked across mountains, tailing a wild Red Deer stag between Glencoe and Kinlochleven. I tracked him by his poo, which seemed to be a very regular occurrence for him; Scottish water must be the equivalent to Yakult on an elder’s stomach. It was such a curious hike up and down; walking, waiting and taking photos. The stag would look back every 50m or so, see me, pause until I caught up, and then moved on another 50m. Occasionally stopping for longer periods of time so I could get some shots. He was my first glimpse into their lives, and the unexpectedness of stumbling across him amongst the foliage and undergrowth added to the experience. I’d always had a fascination with deer, and the trip allowed for plenty of time to observe them as well as many other animals. 

Originally, the plan was to capture the beautiful landscapes in both the Highlands and Cairngorms, but the wildlife seemed to grab my interest. I had been pre-warned by @connormollison to take some carrots and apples with me to feed the deer, as they were apparently tame enough to be hand-fed in certain areas. When I found a herd confident enough to come up to me, it didn’t take long for my stash of food to run out. They seemed to be comfortable with human presence, and didn’t mind me getting close to take some photos. The Cairngorm Mountain Reindeer were very docile, as they’ve been raised (and protected) by humans. August 2017 was my first visit to see them and I had been intrigued by them ever since. 

Despite the interest in the wildlife, I did still appreciate the surroundings, and felt myself merge into the landscape with ease, wandering around valleys and along streams. A vast amount of travel is done within my own company, so I have plenty of time to think about current projects and new ideas. Time away from home to visit new (or old) places inspires my creativity; it’s important to me to spend time doing new things, otherwise I become too comfortable and routine. 

Adaptability is a great human trait, and I often set myself new challenges to further growth. At the start of the year, I’d made a mental note to do more work with people, whether that was traveling or shooting with them. I’d practiced portraits not nearly as much as I had wanted to the previous year, and needed to push myself into these new zones of photography. Once I’d returned from my trip to Scotland, I planned a day out with some friends from work and a girl called Ellie, who had an interest in my photos. The weather was on our side, and we spent a delightfully sunny day up in a place called Cragside, near Rothbury. 

Swinging on hammocks, talking to each other, and listening to the light breeze between trees was a simple pleasure. The sunlight soaked into our skin, warming up our souls and making us giddy. It was the first time we needed to wear sunglasses, and it was already April. Alana and Frankie were watching the frogs mating in the water, finding duck eggs and other insects. It’s a strange feeling, watching other creatures fight or fend off others for their partner, a small parody of our own lives. Days like this were easy, a place to be yourself amongst other people and share an appreciation for the view. I took some portraits of everyone, happy that I could try out new poses and techniques; sharing photos and videos to remember the day. The hours spent outside in the warmth made our eyes tired and skin soft, conversation flowed freely as I tried capture my friends honestly in my pictures. 

We departed late in the day, a little over a ninety minute drive back home, where I then browsed through the 2000 photos I'd taken. I smiled as I looked through them, seeing their personality and feelings within the frame. The main reason I had such a passion for photography, was that I could relive happy memories over and over again, and recall funny conversations or late night nostalgia. However, it wasn’t the fact I could do that for myself. Instead, it was that I could do that for other people too. A way to physically view or hold treasured memories and not let them slip away.

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The Land of Awe

 

I always felt out of place growing up, and to an extent, still do. Seeming to view and feel the world in a different way to those around me; living with an appreciation for nature and life that I hope will one day be a harmonious give and take. When I step outside into the wilderness on cold and blustery days, I hear more in the wind than the bitter cold that reddens my cheeks and tangles my hair. I see more than just light when the sun starts to shine, instead looking at smaller things like leaves with that beautifully warm colour, almost like they’ve been drenched in golden honey; or to the mountains, watching the shadows shift under cloud. I feel I belong in isolated places where time can pass freely; it makes me feel connected to the earth and, therefore, at peace. 

This winter in Northern England has been grey and dreary, an almost constant monotone with sun on so few occasions that I could count them on one hand. There is however, one aspect of winter that reaches into my child-like soul, filling me with an incomprehensible giddiness that overflows: snow. Unsurprisingly, I found a lot of snow on my recent trip to Iceland, along with horizontal hailstorms and over 50mph blizzards. I had never felt so alive, or perhaps it was the constant flow of delicious strawberry cheesecake Skyr that kept me going whilst I travelled. 

There is a feeling called hygge (pronounced hue-guh) which is a Danish word meaning a conscious appreciation, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present; but recognise and enjoy the present. Acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as special. This is the way I felt during my time in Iceland. Days spent with friends (both old and new), experiencing everything the country had to offer. As soon as our flight touched down in Keflavík, we were instantly fuelled by happiness and the curiosity of a new adventure. Bags collected, the four of us headed off to pick up our hire car; a Dacia Duster we later named Demon. 

What an experience it was to drive on the right-hand-side of the road for the first time. Whilst driving towards Selfoss, the road became ‘Impassable’; meaning only emergency vehicles were permitted to travel on them. A small convoy made up of a couple locals and tourists U-turned back towards Rekyjavík, where we made an emergency booking to stay for the night. Although it was a valid experience to be frightened or put off by, I felt the opposite. I could feel the energy of the whole planet against my skin, flowing through my veins; full of secrets and mysteries that I ached to discover. 

This first night was only a taster for what was to come. We managed to get further than Selfoss over the following days, mainly exploring the South Coast. Snow tipped into boots as we clambered up hills, and hail stones pelleted our faces as the wind threw them at us horizontally. The storms there felt like a surge of unfathomable and uncontrollable energy that reverberated through my entire body; it was the most alive I had ever felt, and I could not help myself laughing and running into the storm.

What I loved (and still love) about Iceland is the unpredictability of it. The weather would rage as if the Old Gods of Norse Mythology were very much alive and present, and had something to prove. But then: calm. Insane calm. My heart and soul felt so full as I looked out onto the blankets of snow that topped every mountain and volcano in the Snæfellsness Peninsula. There are very few words to describe how I felt that day, other than hygge. So small and insignificant and completely in awe, I looked up at the famous Kirkjufell, content. Time came to a standstill as I lay down, listening to the tiny specs of frozen snow skip across the surface of the ground. I had no real words to speak to my friends as we drove home that evening, other than ‘holy crap, look at that,’ or ‘how is this real?’