In my previous blog post I mentioned the first photograph I could ever remember taking.
Well, here it is.
According to the black biro scrawl on the rear, this was taken in 1993. I am not sure exactly when but it's safe to assume it was during the summer, probably August. I would have been eight years old.
We took many family holidays to Cornwall when I was young and Watergate Bay was a spot to which we would return frequently. The memory is still extremely vivid. I don't often look at it, primarily because it is stored in an album in my parent's loft, but looking at it now, as I type, it's strange to have all of these senses triggered.
I can remember just how far out the tide had gone that evening, leaving this vast expanse of exposed shoreline. Walking down to the breaking waves took what felt like an age.
I remember the sand being sodden and soft and how dazzling the reflected light of the setting sun was on my eyes. It wasn't cold but the cloud cover made it feel cool.
I remember waiting patiently for strangers to walk out of shot. It was at this moment that one of my sisters exasperatedly mocked me for "never wanting people in photographs."
I remember trying desperately hard to get the horizon bang in the middle of the frame and perfectly level.
And I remember the camera I used. It was one of those 24 exposure disposables from Boots. It had the built-in flash which you charged by holding down a button near the lens until the orange light came on.
Drawing Inspiration, Years On
The image above is a not-so-great quality copy and doesn't really do the original justice. The colours should be slightly more vivid and there is not quite as much detail in the shadows. Nevertheless, the textures in the sky, the colours in the sand, and that curve of the waterline makes for an image I am pretty proud of.
Interestingly, it wasn't until I compared it with my seascape of Brighton in my previous post that I picked up on the similarities. Evidently it made a lasting impression on my style!
I'm not quite convinced of the notion that any one photograph 'got' me into photography. It would make a great story if I could tell you that at the exact moment I took this shot I knew I was going to become a photographer. But that would be a lie. The truth is there were many reasons I turned to photography; it didn't all crystallise on Watergate Bay that evening.
What I will say is that this particular photograph, unlike any other that I have taken in my lifetime, is the one that pushes me to keep going and to better myself as a photographer.
I have taken better (and worse) photos since this one. But when I look at this it is a reminder that one evening when I was eight years old and strolling along a beach in Cornwall, I took a random photograph which would continue to inspire me 23 years later.
However good or bad the shot, that alone makes it incredibly special.