Southport is unique among British seaside resorts in that the best chance to see the sea is in a lake! The Marine Lake is a seawater lake just inshore from the beach. It can be refilled during the spring tides from the sea itself. Although it’s not very deep it does provide a great backdrop for the buildings along the promenade and also allows for some water sport that is impossible from the beach.
Looking back from the seaward side of the Marine Lake the Ramada Hotel stands proud against the skyline. The building, vaguely art deco in style, appears from up close almost like the prow of a ship about to enter the lake. From a distance, the whites of the hotel and surrounding buildings make a fine contrast to the darks skies and water.
Sometimes a particular view or style can become an obsession. Perhaps it’s a range of tones, or maybe it’s a minimal point of view, or a particular point of view, or possibly it’s a combination of many things, perhaps not even consciously understood that all come together to produce the one thing that photographers want – a distinctive – something that is recognisably you.
For me the focus on marram, sea and sky has been impressed on me by the nature of the Sefton English coastline. The entire stretch of coast from Liverpool to Preston is straight, flat and featureless. In order to make an interesting shot certain attitudes have developed: a relentless compositional minimalism, removing even more features in order to produce a clean aesthetic; this minimalism extends to reducing the palette to simple blues and greens with a hint of muted yellows in the sand; a low point of view is probably a result of the compositional needs, but in itself produces a distinct viewpoint on the marram and sky of the Southport coast.
The result is simple, clean images with a muted palette of tones. These aren’t dynamic images in the sense that they produce an immediate ‘wow’, but they are the kind of restful, easy on the eye, hang on your wall and enjoy for years to come type of images, timeless in a sense – timeless in the way that the marramscapes of grass, sand, sea and sky will always be.
Driving along the coast road in the beautiful autumn sunshine I got to Ainsdale beach with time for a 15 minute break before moving on to meet a client. I parked up just as the clouds covered the sun. As I wandered and hunted out a good viewpoint the sky darkened, then came the drops, then the camera went back in the bag to keep it dry, and then I went back in the car to keep dry. Of course, as soon as I had to move on to make my appointment the sun came out again!