I went out on Sunday morning to attempt to photograph the storm waves battering the shoreline. Although it wasn’t raining, the sea spray was so strong that my camera lens was immediately too wet to take photographs. It was worth the trip anyway. The shore was crowded with people wanting to witness the power or the sea.
I tried again the next morning, with the sky clear and bright. I was rewarded with one of the most beautiful views of the sea that I have ever seen. The sun had just risen and was casting a low light across the water. The glow of it sparkled across the surface while throwing deep shadows behind the waves.
On one side of the breakwater, three surfers were catching the big rollers coming smoothly into shore. On the other side, the water was a turmoil of huge waves, bright white foam and spray blown by the blasting wind into delicate feathers. I sat on the beach for a long time, feeling elated. When I got home, I realised that my face was covered in salt from the sea spray.
Exactly two years ago I took my first shots of a disused agricultural building in a spectacular setting on the outskirts of Lewes. The interior of the Grain Store was so full of stuff that I had to wait until my second visit to get some inside photos.
I have been documenting this site ever since, watching the ambitious transformation into a beautiful house that makes the most of its surroundings. I always find it satisfying to complete a job like this, knowing intimately the building’s journey and how these new spaces have evolved.
The most extraordinary thing about this house is that it could not be more immersed in the South Downs. Tucked into a hollow, the windows look straight across to a green sloping hill that leads up to the South Downs Way. Seeing the finished and furnished spaces on my final shoot last week, I wanted to move into it, there and then. Actually, I could stay there if I wanted, as it is available as a holiday let. You can find more photos of this project here, and how to rent it here.
My Christmas present to myself was a negative scanner that enables me to edit on my computer hundreds of negatives from the past 25-30 years that I never had a chance to print in a darkroom. The scanning is a time-consuming process but hugely exciting – and of course not nearly as laborious as darkroom work.
Looking at these photographs of a rural village celebration in the West Country made me remember how new and uncertain it all felt at the time, life in my adopted country, and how I was seeing (and photographing) it through a foreigner’s eyes. Nearly 30 years on, these types of scenes are now wonderfully familiar to me and I view them with huge affection. It would be interesting to head back to Exmoor to photograph the event again and see what has changed, both over the time period and my perception of it. I’ll keep you posted on that. You can find more photos of the village fête here.
Tomorrow is the turning point when the days finally start to lengthen and the night-times begin to get shorter. In our part of the world, on the south coast of England, the winter solstice has just shy of 8 hours between sunrise and sunset. When it is grey and wet, which it currently seems to be much of the time, this can feel even shorter.
At this pivotal time, when the northern hemisphere starts to head towards spring, I give you a beach at sunset, covered with a dusting of snow. I took this last week when my 36 hours on Cape Cod coincided with a most beautiful snow fall.
Towards the end of the day, the clouds cleared as the sun set into the bay, turning the snow pink. As we headed home from our walk, an enormous full moon rose up over the white hills in front of us. I felt so lucky to be a witness to the transition of this beautiful day turning into night. You can find more of my landscape photographs here.
Wishing you all a bright and positive Solstice, a Christmas spent with loved ones and healthy, happy and fulfilling New Year.
Photographs that I took almost 30 years ago of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry have been published recently in several articles about the proposed future of this historic site.
A battle has been raging about planning permission for the building that housed this famous foundry from 1738 until 2017. This is Britain’s oldest manufacturing company, around since the 1570s, and has cast some of the most famous bells in the world, including the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and London’s Big Ben. A planning application was approved last month to turn the building into a bell-themed boutique hotel, despite a strong campaign against it.
Yesterday an unexpected temporary intervention came through from the Secretary of State, so there is a chance the building will be saved.
The foundry was an incredible place to photograph. I remember wandering wherever I liked and photographing whatever I liked. No one seemed to mind, or even pay me much attention. The place felt full of history – even the casting methods were ancient and included sand, dung, hair and bone. You can find more of the photos here.
It is a day to celebrate sharing a meal with those you love, plain and simple. The one key element of the dinner is, of course, the humble cranberry. Native to New England, they are still found growing wild in the Cape Cod landscape, in bogs that turn a vibrant red in the autumn. Here are some I picked earlier.