paul russell – beside the sea

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Paul Russell

Beside The Sea

play this essay

 

Why the seaside?

Well, I grew up in a little seaside town and spent a lot of time wandering around and around, even in the dead of winter. And now I find myself back in another seaside town, so it’s subject matter I know very well. It’s an interesting location, as the mood and feeling changes from the busy in-season buzz to the quiet out-of-season period. Superimposed on that annual cycle has been a gradual decline in the popularity of the English seaside holiday over the years, with the growth of cheap foreign holidays and budget airlines.

Where were the photos taken?

The pictures were taken at resorts along the English south coast, including Weymouth, Bournemouth, Swanage, Lyme Regis, Brighton, West Bay and somewhere in the English Channel. The bulk were taken over the period 2006–2008. I’m currently unsure if the project is finished or just resting as far as the shooting is concerned.

Do you often talk to yourself?

Erm, next question…

 

Related links

Music: Derek Pierce, aka ‘beatsystem’ – www.myspace.com/beatsystemuk

Website: www.paulrussell.info

 

90 Responses to “paul russell – beside the sea”


  • beautiful…
    and i hope the project is not finished yet…

  • thanks.

  • For once something unpretentious. No drama, no effects, just a series of good photographs. Love these.

  • This has a wonderful mood and kept me wanting to see more..
    Thanks.

  • I’ve seen many of these images before as singulars but I enjoyed the concise edit, Paul. As someone who currently lives and photographs by the sea, even in *British* Columbia, I have to say that your part of the world seems very unique… and strange.

    Well done.

  • it’s clear you’ve got a lot of affection for the places you’re photographing…for me there are shades of Martin Parr’s work in New Brighton…
    i really enjoyed it. they made me smile and look forward to summer

  • Paul you have a VERY good eye and a nice sense of humor! Elliott Erwitt should be proud of you! Any influences? Okay – you use colour.
    I enjoyed looking at the images and the different stories in them. There was always a new surprise. Pretty bizarre moments. I always suspected the Brits to be mad. Thanks for the proof ;-)
    You can keep on taking this kind of photographs for the rest of your life!
    Thank you so much!
    Reimar

  • Lovely, Paul. I’ll echo Sebastian above. You had me laughing out loud in delighted surprise as some of these came up on my screen. I would hope you are just resting, because I see this as an ongoing (and on and on going) project. By the way I lived in Whitstable for a year ages ago, and these images really ring a bell.

  • hahahahaha
    teeheheehehe
    heeehhhheeheheheee

    (thanks – gotta get some water)

  • I’m with Reimar: Elliot Erwitt came to mind, but you have your own touch, Paul, and it is a gentle touch. Yes, you see the wonderfully absurd in our species but at the same time you obviously love us anyway. Or maybe you love us BECAUSE OF our absurdities. I, like so many here, couldn’t wait to see the next pic. Please take your rest but summer will soon be upon us and I hope you’ll be out there clicking away. I want to see more!!!

    Patricia

  • street photography at its best. will make a really nice book one day, hopefully soon

  • If you’re around Cardiff, you can see some of these as prints in the new park liberal club till Friday, then in xm24 in Bologna starting on the 9th of May ;-)

    What a lucky coincidence for some promotion so that Maciej stops telling me that I don’t promote events.

  • SEBASTIAN…

    for once?? hmmmm, i think you had better take a look at the last 20 essays published….in any case, i too just love to see pure “seeing”….

    cheers, david

  • Congratulations Paul! I recognize the soft colours of England – and the eccentricity! If anyone wants to understand the English – look at photograph number three. Classic!

    Please keep it up – and follow Capa – get closer. It’s not easy; at first: but the more you talk the more you can photograph. The more you photograph, the more people ignore you. Take my advice Paul (I won’t) and follow your subjects home.

    Best wishes; good English light,

    Mike.

  • great edit Paul, they all look very exact in composition and just wonderful colour harmony, never does it ever trip over into garish. Many of them also have that arrested energy (image twelve) that pure colour street has cornered the market on, as well as plenty of w.t.f. factor as well, the opening image being in the ‘priceless’ category.

    i’m really chuffed with all the visual pace and variety you’ve blended in there, i appreciate that’s really a challenge when you’ve got pretty ‘samey’ compositions to work with. The other challenge of hard-light seems well conquered as well Paul, the images have some fantastic dynamic range and simple things like the white on the costumes in image four retaining all the pleasing tones is a real treat.

    image fourteen is just brilliant, it’s better than that, it’s brilliant fine art; the ambiguity, and the arrangement, and the tonality, and the bird and the girl. Can I buy this print Paul?

    Just to balance things a bit, i do think the framing of some of the images seems to fall into the street photography trap, that aspect where they become more of a celebration of the ironic subject verse the magic of making the frame lines a canvas and teasing out a more pleasing comp, image three makes me think this a bit, as does image ten, ironically for both those images i think the shot was lower and to the right, but i appreciate this inexact quirkiness is also the pleasing side of the results as well. Image twenty shows what i mean though, it’s almost all framing-vision here well implemented, and framed any other way it would have been less interesting.

    if you get a chance Paul, i’d like to here what you think about image fourteen, i’d love to hear you’re keen to extend this project with the same subject matter, but with an edit of more images like fourteen, images with a haunting feeling of ambiguity to it, verses ironic humour.

    For anyone else less exposed to Paul’s talent, please look at this image as well, i will always think of THIS image as a Paul Classic!

    -Joe

    p.s. on image sixteen i would have loved to see that body surfer get framed in one of the cracks of the girls, that would have been such a treat!

  • Brilliant series, you’ve got a great eye for those subtle, hard-to-see but oh so everyday moments. One of the nicest photo essays on here.

  • Almost every photograph made me smile :)

  • Paul. I just have to join in and agree with what’s been said. I can’t say it any better but wanted to add my appreciation. loved looking at the series. anne

  • Congratulations Paul.

    Very enjoyable seeing your work in this format. I think your city work would be just as comfortable here. Image 17 here is my favourite (and one I hadn’t seen before), just bizarre! Can’t wait for the book.

  • What a wonderful series. Each images is like eyecandy and relates to the next one to tell a universal story. I also respond to the use of scale,atmosphere and a little whimsy. I would love to see more.

  • this was the most playful essay to date. congratulations, you officially made me homesick for the beach.

  • Oh man! This makes me very nostalgic! I grew up near to the coast in East Anglia and love to photograph in the costal towns when I go back. I can hear it… smell it… Thanks for the little trip down memory lane.

    Fun playful images. A little disengaged… no interaction with your subjects, but this is obviously how you intended the project. Each image is a great little individual scene, with its characters paying out in your frame. I like that the images are all technically very similar with quite muted tones and flat light (very obviously England!!) its ties the piece together nicely.

    Nice one!

  • there’s no doubt where htese images are from but its artistry in which you frame and compose these images that give them there fantastic nature. brilliant. more more more

  • Great sense of place.

  • Paul,

    You have a great eye for catching these moments and you seem to have had a lot of fun shooting. I have been smiling throughout the essay. Very refreshing. There is a bit of Martin Parr in you with more of a sense of humour, english sense of hunour of course (Presumably, you are from England!). There are maybe 2/3 pictures that sort of appear “more serious” that you could edit out in my view but these are aesthetically your better shots so I am not even sure….

    So brilliantly Bristish and, despite coming from a French man, I mean this as a genuine compliment :):):)

    Cheers,

    Eric

  • Paul

    Brilliant stuff, amazing, bizarre, captures perfectly the peculiar twist that is the Brits. Can’t say enough. thankyou.

  • Mike R and Paul

    It’s so funny, Mike…you tell Paul to get closer and one thing i REALLY like is his distance. I looked at these photos and i was awestruck by his sense of street geometry. This is sooooooo hard to do well. I try and i can count on one hand the times i got it right. I get close, very close and you know what they say about familiarity and contempt. I get a little tired of all that intimacy. i yearn to take at least 25% of my street photos from a distance and get that same geometry that Paul seems to do so easily. When i pull back and shoot all i get is a handful of random characters scattered willy nilly around the place. But Paul seems to nail it every time. Interesting the difference in our reactions, no?

    Other things i like, the beautiful diffused light..so different from the hard contrasty straight overhead light that comes with the territory much further south where i am. The creamy colors, especially the color of the water which has to be the reason the word ‘seafoam’ was invented. Paul’s sense of the comic and absurd. So Brit’ all by itself. The ambiguity of some..the guy lying on the grass with the chairs behind him. It looks like he just keeled over suddenly from an upright position. It’s just completely absurd. The guy riding the back of the tractor along the edge of the beach like some ridiculous beach toy, the couple hugging look like a perfume commercial, the guy pushing the horse down the road like he just unscrewed it from its base and walked off with it. The dog and man digging in the and..well, this almost looks set up but i believe it happened just this way cuz you never could have gotten that dog to be so cooperative unless you buried a sausage in the sand, mmm..maybe that’s what they’re both digging for, haha, buried sausage. The cigarette sticking out of the woman’s mouth in #3 mirrored brilliantly by the snorkle sticking out of the kid’s mouth. I guess i know which side of the smoking controversy you sit on ;);)

    Well i could go on and i will tomorrow..i can’t see straight i’m so tired..so congratulations..this is one fun, smart, acid sharp essay disguised as humorous little postcards.

    best~
    kat

  • Mike,

    the get closer thing s such a cliche these days. If Paul were to get closer he would be shooting something completely different. Its just as tough to shoot good upclose shots as it it is to shoot good removed shots. Paul does his thing really well.

  • Rafal

    i don’t know about it being a cliche to shoot up close but otherwise i completely agree with you! Paul is doing great stuff just the way he’s doing it. i love it!

    best
    kat~

  • Paul,

    Let me join the chorus… delightful!

    Paul and Kathleen,

    Yes, hooray for distance! Closeness is great, but so is stepping back, taking it all in, seeing it and presenting it in such elegant fashion.

    DAH,

    Thanks for posting this one! Renews my hope that you might someday even like some of my own work.

  • Sidney..

    hi-five-ing you!

    yep!

  • Kathleen,

    the shooting per se isnt, but the comments are. Maybe because I know Paul, I know he shoots this way because he wants to not because he is afreaid to get closer. Lots of times people will assume the latter and advise people to shoot closer. But shoting closer isnt the end all, be all of photography, and I would argue that Capa had MUCH more in mind when he made that statement, less about the actual physical distance to the subject, more about the emotional or intellectual distance….being more wrapped up in the subject matter than how many inches you are to your target. Capa was close, not because he was physically close…some of his most famous shots aren’t really that close…the one of the falling soldier isn’t really much closer than Paul gets. But Capa was close to his subject, which was war, because thats what he lived and breathed. He was commited, he didnt just pop in to Europe fir a bit and snap some shots and then on to something totally different. He died shooting war, and thats what made him CLOSE.

  • Rafal, that is SO well said. Like Kat, I tend to get right in people’s faces, but with a new project I’ve recently undertaken I’m doing my best to take in people’s environments as well as their faces. I feel just as close to them emotionally, in some ways more so. There’s something respectful about valuing a person’s surroundings enough to literally “place” them there in a photograph. It gives them context.

    Now our frind Paul is a master at being close to his subjects while standing and shooting at a distance. Again, like Kat, I am in awe of the geometry of his placement of elements in his photos. And it’s all so obviously NOT set up or manufactured. What an incredible eye!

    Patricia

  • Rafal

    I never thought about the Capa statement just that way but i think you could be right.. You have to feel it to shoot its soul and if you don’t shot its soul, why bother? I also agree that it’s the easy assumption that if a person doesn’t shoot close it’s because they can’t. And honestly, most times it IS because they’re intimidated. But if you can shoot close and you choose, as Paul has done, to shoot at a distance you do so from a place of strength. And the ironic thing is that i believe you have to know how to get close before you draw back. i think it’s easier to arrange one big thing in a small frame than several small things in a big frame. All that space to manage, so much can go wrong. And not only manage the composition but the tiny people have to actually convey something meaningful with their expression, their posture or their movement through the frame. Not easy at all. Great discussion, Rafal..

    kat~

  • Kat,

    Im pretty much convinced that its what Capa meant. Id love to hear David weigh in on it, its one of those quotes that I believe has outgrown its context as it has become so often used. Im sure David, would have good insight as to what Capa meant, or atleast it would be interesting to see how David reads that sentence.

  • Patricia..

    Exactly…wow, so many times i think i’m out there thinking this stuff all by myself..it’s so great to hear others like you and Sidney, Rafal and Paul coming to the same conclusion as a result of your own unique experience, projects, philosophy. You just don’t know how affirming it is for me to read this. I especially liked this:

    “There’s something respectful about valuing a person’s surroundings enough to literally “place” them there in a photograph. It gives them context.”

    thanks, Patricia!
    kat~

  • Rafal

    Now i’m pissed at you..i was all ready to turn off the computer and go to bed and instead i have a big Capa book on my lap, written in Spanish no less, trying to see if there’s anything about that..yes, David could certainly elaborate on this i think..what a great topic of discussion! Paul, now see what you did?!?! :)))
    kat~

  • distance…
    close..
    waves..
    or lack of…
    beach
    pleasure..
    where’s the heat?
    the beach..
    so different than Chris B’s storm series…
    love the contrast….
    frame 12 is my favorite..
    take away….
    take me away…
    to the beach…
    and let me watch…
    visual circus…
    visual games….
    from afar…..
    don’t get too close….
    you might get burned…
    xox
    **

  • Kathleen,

    thanks,

    as far as distance, I am shooting a “street” (sort of, but its totally unautobiopgraphical, and in color) project where I made the decision from the start to step back and create space. I think, back to Capa, that it would be far too restricting to simply think of the quote in terms of physical distance, you would end up with a pretty monotonous body of work at the end of the day. Variety is the spice of life, and it applies to photography, too. I like to see varied angles, distances, frames..seems to me that if I just saw up close shots, it would be boring.

  • Rafal

    Just a glance at the text and what Capa did was to combat the dehumanizing nature of war, to put a face on it. And so that totally dovetails with your theory. You must be right..that’s what he meant about getting close. Put a face on it. Humanize it. And you are right. Many of the photos are taken from a middle distance, many aren’t sharp or precise but they are all rich and warm and heartfelt, i.e. “close”..

    kat~

  • Back to Paul,

    if we are to assume that Im right about what Capa meant then to me Paul’s essay fits those words perfectly. He isnt gettinng in people’s faces but he is obviously committed to his project, his subject matter, etc.

  • I love the depth of this project…meaning, the geometry and depth of each individual frame. The (apparently) arguable distance from which he shoots is what creates the depth within these photographs. (I’m winking at you, Kat. How I do love your feisty spirit and how you stand your ground). The moments caught, the color, the interesting characters (glad to know that this was shot on the English seaside as it does emulate a British feel), the edit…all superb. I feel like the story has not yet been completely told, and I’m wondering what will be revealed next…I want chapter two.

  • Rafal

    Well, yes and no..Yes, he’s “close” relative to his commitment to his project. But i think Paul keeps an emotional distance as well. I do think he shoots as a somewhat dispassionate observer. Not coldly, not indifferently. But from a different place than Capa. And i think this is Paul’s signature. I don’t think Paul necessarily puts a face on it. He has a way of showing us the absurdity of human behavior. But we’re not laughing at the subject. The photos are not taken at their expense. And the distance is a respectful one as much as a physical one. David gave some advice to Bodo recently, to not just let us “see” the subject but let us “meet” them. I thought that was wonderful BUT, but..sometimes i want to observe subjects at a distance, from exactly the distance that Paul shoots from. I don’t want to meet, i want to see. i want the photo to tell me some kind of essential truth without the unique nature of the individual taking over the whole photo.

    i don’t know, i am utterly wiped so am probably contradicting myself like crazy..best to sign off..

    toodles!
    kat

  • Nice one.
    How can your project come to and end, this subject is continuous, the English by the seaside, truely eccentric.
    You obviously walk around with your eyes wide open, great. You have a real ability to see the world as a stage before you.

    That all too familiar overcast sky at the british seaside.

    Great moments.

    Ian

  • Carrie

    *winkbackatcha*

    chapter two, and three, and four and five and….and…and…

    hugs
    kat~

  • Big smile this morning, thank you so much…

    all the best, audrey

  • This is good Paul, congratulations. I saw many of your images here and there already but as a coherent series it gains strength and becomes better than the single shots. Good stuff!

    Cheers, Erik

  • This is good Paul, congratulations. I saw many of your images here and there already but as a coherent series it gains strength and becomes better than the single shots. Good stuff!

    Cheers, Erik

  • I didn’t have time to go through the comments but I’m sure that others might have noticed the apparent influence, subject similarity and wit of approach, with Tony-Ray Jones photographs who back at the sixties, begining seventies, have long and discernmently, photographed the English at the seaside.
    My absolute favorite of the set, is number 6. My main objection to the set, is a lack of consistency to the approach, specifically in regard to framing, distance from the subject etc and imo the editing should have been a tad tighter.
    All in all, enjoyful!

  • There’s genius in them there pictures. Utterly wow!

    You and I should meet sometime.

    Make a book, PLEASE!

  • To quote a section of the Sir John Betjeman Poem “trebetherick” about Cornwall

    “Sand in the sandwiches, wasps in the tea,
    Sun on our bathing dresses heavy with the wet,
    Squelch of the bladder-wrack waiting for the sea,
    Fleas around the tamarisk, an early cigarette”

  • PAUL :))))))

    just made my morning!….The HARDEST thing in photography is to observe (observing is NOT pointing a camera at the world, as it seems we so easily believe) and from that the HARDEST thing to accomplish in photography is to make a genuinely HUMOROUS photograph. Humor that is without cynicism or irony or pretense, but genuine wonder and joy. this essay is filled with this quality. Of course, i too see Parr here, but not just Parr, because your story is less abut the aesthetics of life but about the wonderous collision between these wild and weird stuff than goes on around us…

    a well observed and lovely photographed series….

    as for getting close….hmmm, distance (med and far) has very important value in photography, and i think you’ve done just fine! I have really enjoyed the story…..

    as a beach bum myself stuck in a n.american northern city, it well, you can imagine ;)))

    terrific job.

    all the best
    bob

  • Thanks very much for the comments everyone. I’ll reply to the comments in detail later on today — I’m meant to be working at the moment, my brain’s not really working and my Internet connection is flaky (a bad combination).

  • Is sure to be popular(probably even more so in about fifty years), well put together, celebration of bread and butter englishness. Not being even a remote fan of the style(and even less of bread and butter english people) I can still clearly see that it is put together pretty well and has all the makings of a book/article written all over it. That it bears resemblance to Mr Parrs work has been mentioned, although I think this style of photgraphy was around long before Parr chose to magnify it and this work seems to fall into the earlier tradition rather than the later. Not a lot to fault here, and although it does not resonate with me that should be of little concern. it IS after all PHOTOGRAPHY.
    john

  • I love the style. The compositions are interesting and have layers of meaning and symbolism.. Old vs. Young, anarchists taking a seat in lawn chairs and enjoying the view.. as a critique, some of the photographs might be better composed if you got closer to the subject, #1 and #15 for instance (most of the photographs do a great job of filling the frame compositionally while maintaining distance such as #17). Other photographs have great subject matter but seem to be awkwardly composed (#3). Overall the photographs are corky and fun.

  • Well, in general, the essay has “something” and tells a story. Interesting to see an unusual approach for a photojournalist nowadays. However, for my personal liking and a complete appearance, I would like to see more stronger images. From my, wrong, point of view, a couple of strong introductory images would help as well. It looks very much like snapshots, but it isn’t. Somehow, I think, if it were my pictures, nobody would even bother to comment or to take it seriously, at least in my local community. As for “getting close”, I think the physical distance to the subject in photography isn’t that important. In the history of photography there has been taken strong photographs from different distances with different lenses. Sometimes in order to get the result you have to work very close physically, sometimes not necessary at all. The photographic vision is that, what matters the most. No matter you are very close to the subject or not, and no matter you use a wide angle or a tele lens.

  • A very pleasant series to see first thing in the morning, your images create very strongly a sense of place and mood. Thank you for the cool ocean breezes and the soft damp sand between my toes, and the consistently charming photos…For me though, I feel that as a whole, the images don’t go far enough toward embodying the magical and the surreal. I get the sense that you are after something nearly intangible that you have well perceived and understood, but that something has just slipped from being captured by the camera, the way magical things often do. My guess is that this gap has to do with your images rising from moments predisposed by concept and too heavily imbued by reference..I don’t mean to fault what you have created here, it’s no easy task to trap magic – but I do think you can have greater successes ahead. I think to meet those successes much in the way of good fortune and grace will be required, along with quiet observation and readiness, and a willingness to take gently what is gifted to you, and to steal it away with a slight of hand.

  • Naveen
    “and i hope the project is not finished yet…”

    Well, I haven’t photographed so much at the seaside recently. Partly because most of the locations here are resorts that can be reached by daytrips from where I currently live. I’m so familiar with those locations, it can be hard to see them afresh sometimes.

    Sebastian, Andrew Steiner, Waxy (John) – thanks very much.

    ciara
    “it’s clear you’ve got a lot of affection for the places you’re photographing…for me there are shades of Martin Parr’s work in New Brighton… i really enjoyed it. they made me smile and look forward to summer”

    Thanks. I’ve tried to make it quite affectionate, hopefully without veering into mawkish territory. I’ve noticed that quite often people when photographing the English seaside either ramp up the colour to emphasize the gaudiness, or focus on the run-down aspects – peeling paint, shops boarded up out of season. So I thought I’d try and go a little in the other direction and make it a slightly idealised version to re-dress the balance.

  • Paul, great work here, I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s always great to start the day with a smile, or many smiles in this case. Definitely don’t stop, do a book, keep SEEing, and searching for #12s :)))

  • There is a lot of humor, irony and general strangeness in many of these photos, which makes me love them. Also, to me there is a feeling of detached intimacy, if that’s possible, that makes them all the more curious. Great to see use of creative composition while being far away from your subjects at times. Could become a strong essay with a little editing and some more images :) Good work, keep pushing it.

  • On a technical note, are your images 4:3 ratio? What are you shooting with?

  • Congrats, Paul…!!!!!

    Incredible well done work….. nicely edited, too….

  • Very nice! Fun and refreshing to watch!

  • yes, really funny stuff and apart from being very well observed it´s refreshing to see a different take from the usual tacky british seaside desolate during winter type stuff.

    i think you enjoy the same ´game´of photography that i do paul.. you do it with such humor though, and i still exert that the most difficult feeling to convey with photography is humor.
    great.

    looked at your site and i think this work is the strongest by far and as others have said – would love to see it as a book.. and of course.. it is not over.. keep photographing the seaside wherever you are.

    what a treat.
    david

  • “…a treat”, that’s exactly the word for this material.

  • Reimar Ott
    Paul you have a VERY good eye and a nice sense of humor! Elliott Erwitt should be proud of you! Any influences? Okay – you use colour.

    Reimer – just the usual street photography suspects, really – Ray-Jones, Winogrand, Frank. And people using colour in an exciting way like Jonas Bendiksen and Mark Alor Powell.

    Dimitri Mellos
    “By the way I lived in Whitstable for a year ages ago, and these images really ring a bell.”

    Thanks Dimitri. Although I’ve lived in quite a few places around Britain, my knowledge of seaside towns is mainly restricted to the south coast, unfortunately. I would love to visit some of the towns on the east coast.

    Gracie
    “hahahahaha, teeheheehehe”
    Thanks, but this is very serious work, you know…

    Patricia Lay-Dorsey
    “Yes, you see the wonderfully absurd in our species but at the same time you obviously love us anyway. Or maybe you love us BECAUSE OF our absurdities.”

    Thanks Patricia. I have a vaguely biological background, so tend to look at human behaviour in the same way that an ecologist would look at, say, a lesser-spotted nightjar (if it exists). Which I guess would account for the detachment that some people note in the pictures, but I think it can also be helpful. The example I sometimes give is that teams of birdwatchers will spend hours camping out for a small brown bird to leave its nest, but if you take a picture of a human leaving Asda, you are somehow a complete nutter. Even though humans are quite an interesting species. Oh well, it must be just me then…

    Maciej Dakowicz
    Thanks Maciej

    Joni Karanka
    “If you’re around Cardiff, you can see some of these as prints in the new park liberal club till Friday.”

    What shameless self-promotion!

    BTW, is that the New Park Liberal Club, 155 City Road, Cardiff CF24 3BQ, just across the road from Sue’s Breakfast Bar? (OK, I just had a look at on Google Street View.)

  • just getting this now… just getting in the door… this looks amazing… i will write more… i need to observe this much deeper now…

  • nothin left to do but smile, smile, smile!

  • These are wonderful pictures, sprouting with color and figurative speech. I felt as though I was looking through the viewfinder, witnessing the stagnant moments.

  • Paul;

    As soon as I saw this the thought that immediately struck me was that it was a “visual” chapter of Bill Bryson’s, “Notes from a Small Island”!

    I really like the sense of space you’ve given everything. I’ve never been to the UK, but as a NZer have an affinity for the place, through family members living there, people from the UK now in the family, and of course TV programmes like Coro!!! I’ve often thought that visiting the seaside holiday towns (especially the “faded” ones; Morecambe etc) in the off season would make a wonderful essay.

    An as an aside; I reckon the Brits “do” eccentricity better than anyone else in the world. Believe me that is not a derogatory statement, but a huge compliment in this world of “sameness”

    Congratulations on this work, I love it. Thank you for allowing it to be shown.

  • I love Paul’s work, there were a few here I had never seen before and liked (where’ve they been hiding?) and just a couple that broke the rhythm for me a little.

    All in all a great set, well shot — glad it found an outlet.

  • Nice one Paul.

    Ive seen most of your images previously. Seeing them now laid out in an essay with an order really adds to them. Thats an impressive collection of an area I know very well. I grew up in Parkstone Poole and will be over next week, will keep an eye out for you along the beach front!

  • Very nice Paul!

    Glad to see it here. ;-)

  • Hi Paul,
    The most important things of your project to me are………..
    1. The simplistic approach.
    2. The variation of the different activities of the people at different time.
    3. The touch of the people represents the daily life wonderfully.

    Keep going my friend.
    Looking forward for another good project.
    Regards.

    Partha Pal
    from Birbhum

  • I dig it mate. I like the approach of not trying too hard. Your photographs seem really honest. And I believe honesty is the most important aspect of someone’s work. We all have influences, and we will use them and then depart from them. Its all in the game. Keep going. As I said, I dig it.

  • ** Mike R
    “Please keep it up – and follow Capa – get closer. It’s not easy; at first: but the more you talk the more you can photograph. The more you photograph, the more people ignore you. Take my advice Paul (I won’t) and follow your subjects home.”

    Hi Mike. Thanks – I see that your “get closer” comments have stirred up a bit of debate. I understand how some people might find the mid-distance, “figures in a landscape” view a bit uninvolving for this series. I do sometimes “get closer” in photography but for this series I’m happy to be an observer for various reason. (By the way, as quite a few shots are taken on a raised prom overlooking the beach or at the water’s edge, physically getting closer would also involve getting wetter or getting airborne! I know what you mean though, I am just joking…)

    ** Joe
    “never does it ever trip over into garish”

    Good. That was one of my main goals.

    “Just to balance things a bit, i do think the framing of some of the images seems to fall into the street photography trap … image three makes me think this a bit, as does image ten, ironically for both those images i think the shot was lower and to the right”

    I agree that image 3 with the snorkel could be better – there was a low fence in front of the café that stopped me shooting lower (or maybe I just fouled up). Usually those sort of things irritate me too much to let the shot live, but the rest of the shot just tipped the balance. Image 10 also I sort of agree.

    “i’d love to hear you’re keen to extend this project with the same subject matter, but with an edit of more images like fourteen, images with a haunting feeling of ambiguity to it, verses ironic humour”

    Well, I like ambiguity – I think no. 18 has some of that as well…

    ** Thanks Max, Sofia, Anne

    ** Matt
    “Very enjoyable seeing your work in this format. I think your city work would be just as comfortable here. Image 17 here is my favourite (and one I hadn’t seen before), just bizarre! Can’t wait for the book.”

    Matt. Some of the ones that people find bizarre don’t strike me as such until people point it out. Thanks.

    ** Angela Bacon-Kidwell
    “I would love to see more”

    Thanks Angela. There are longer/alternate edits, etc. on my website.

    ** Jackie – thank you

    ** James Chance
    “Fun playful images. A little disengaged… no interaction with your subjects, but this is obviously how you intended the project. Each image is a great little individual scene, with its characters paying out in your frame. I like that the images are all technically very similar with quite muted tones and flat light (very obviously England!) its ties the piece together nicely.”

    Thanks James. As well as the muted light, all but one photo was taken with the Nikon D70, which has quite muted colours as well…

    ** Peter Grant and John L – ta for your kind words

    ** Eric Espinosa
    “There are maybe 2/3 pictures that sort of appear “more serious” that you could edit out in my view but these are aesthetically your better shots so I am not even sure….
    So brilliantly Bristish and, despite coming from a French man, I mean this as a genuine compliment :):):)”

    Ha ha. Thanks Eric. Yes, I am English. I think the serious ones are useful though, especially near the end where the photos are “out of season”.

    ** Gordon Lafleur – thank you, sir.

  • Thanks for all the comments. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much chance to get near a computer on Monday so just belatedly going through them…

    ** Kathleen Fonseca
    Again, so glad you enjoyed them. Yes, it’s an interesting task to make photos from a distance and still retain enough human interest to make them work. Or not! I can understand it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and has stirred up a bit of debate.

    ** Sidney Atkins
    “Let me join the chorus… delightful!” – thanks Sidney

    ** Rafal Pruszynski
    “I would argue that Capa had MUCH more in mind when he made that statement [“get closer”], less about the actual physical distance to the subject, more about the emotional or intellectual distance … But Capa was close to his subject, which was war, because that’s what he lived and breathed. He was committed, he didn’t just pop in to Europe for a bit and snap some shots and then on to something totally different.”

    Hi Rafal. Interesting thoughts. Whether it’s physical distance or emotional I think there’s room for a range of approaches. “he didn’t just pop in to Europe for a bit” – ha ha. On a depressing practical note though, I think that if you tried to do a project in the vein of Parr’s “The Last Resort” now in the UK, you would probably last about 10 minutes before being attacked…

    ** Thanks Wendy, Carrie, Ian, Erik, Audrey (as I mentioned, I really enjoyed your essay)

    ** Ziskar
    “… I’m sure that others might have noticed the apparent influence, subject similarity and wit of approach, with Tony-Ray Jones photographs who back at the sixties, begining seventies, have long and discernmently, photographed the English at the seaside.”

    Ziskar. Yes, I do enjoy Ray-Jones’ photos. The photos were taken using a 35 mm lens on the Nikon D70 (i.e. 52mm in 35mm terms – a bit long for “conventional” street photography but good for landscapes) but also the kit zoom that came with the camera so, yes, there are a range of focal lengths used, which I understand is another variable that can create inconsistency.

  • Paul Russell: “On a depressing practical note though, I think that if you tried to do a project in the vein of Parr’s “The Last Resort” now in the UK, you would probably last about 10 minutes before being attacked…”

    Paul, are you trying to tell me that shooting children bathing and eating ice-cream has gone out of fashion?

  • Paul, yes, it’s the New Park Liberal Club on 155 City Road.

  • Joni

    You can shoot children bathing if you want — I’ll take the long shots of you getting lynched!

  • PAUL

    no comment on my comment..does that mean that I am off base, and that these are as successful as you had envisioned?

  • ** Paul Treacy
    “There’s genius in them there pictures. Utterly wow! You and I should meet sometime.”
    Thanks – that would be good.
    “On a technical note, are your images 4:3 ratio? What are you shooting with?”
    No, they’re from the Nikon D70 – they should all be 1.5 (3:2)!

    ** Ian Aitken

    “Sand in the sandwiches, wasps in the tea, Sun on our bathing dresses heavy with the wet, Squelch of the bladder-wrack waiting for the sea, Fleas around the tamarisk, an early cigarette”
    Wasps, oh no…

    *** bblack
    “Humor that is without cynicism or irony or pretense, but genuine wonder and joy. this essay is filled with this quality.”
    That is exactly what I’m often after, so that’s good. Thanks Bob, I enjoyed reading your comments.

    ** john
    “Not being even a remote fan of the style (and even less of bread and butter english people) I can still clearly see that it is put together pretty well and has all the makings of a book/article written all over it.”
    Ha ha! Thanks John (really)!

    ** Matt McInnis
    “I love the style. The compositions are interesting and have layers of meaning and symbolism.”
    Thanks Matt
    “some of the photographs might be better composed if you got closer to the subject, #1 and #15 for instance” – I’ve got to disagree with those two examples.
    “Other photographs have great subject matter but seem to be awkwardly composed (#3)” – but agree that no. 3 in an ideal world would be different…

    ** Anthony R.Z
    “I would like to see more stronger images.”
    Me too!

    ** erica mcdonald
    “A very pleasant series to see first thing in the morning, your images create very strongly a sense of place and mood.”
    Thanks Erica, I will continue looking…

    ** young tom
    Thanks. Although what are “#12s”?

    ** Thanks August, Yosoynacho, Nir Alon

    ** David Bowen
    “yes, really funny stuff and apart from being very well observed it’s refreshing to see a different take from the usual tacky British seaside desolate during winter type stuff.”
    Thanks David. (By the way, I found another one of your emails from a while back in my BT Internet spamguard online folder. I’ve turned the stupid thing off now.)

    ** Mike Berube, Marc davidson, Zaida Sofía Granados – ta for the comments.

    ** jared iorio
    Hi Jared. It’s quite hard to sequence the busy ones, and looking at them now in the cold light of day, yes, there are hiccups. At some point I will get a lot of little prints done and juggle them around. I’m not too precious about the photos included at a given time – there’s a few central photos that I would never drop – but it’s nice to give a run out to different pictures at different times. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few solo shows of the seaside pictures, and I made a point of choosing a different selection when I had the option. Some might consider that slapdash but I like to mix things up… Of course a book would be a definitive edit and then I probably would go crazy deciding the photos and the order.

    ** richard
    Hi Richard. Poole’s one of those jinxed places that I have wandered around many times without really coming away with any good shots. Not sea-related, but generally. Parkstone I don’t know at all. It looks like there are interesting areas between Bournemouth and Poole but I’ve never got off the train at Branksome or Parkstone to explore.

    ** Ludmilla, Partha Pal, Sean – Hi, and cheers for the encouraging words.

  • Good for you, Paul. There’s no reason NOT to mix it up.

    Kind of wish this is the first time I saw these. I saw most of them as singles or in mini-sets — like the Punch and Judy. Wonder if I would have the same thoughts about the rhythm if I hadn’t.

  • Taking all the comments above into account, I just have to say these images are terrific, and they hold up really well as a body of work. Whether it’s the English resort and those who go there or just Paul’s excellent eye, I find it a unique and thoughtful take on a subject shot by so many photographers before (including me, here in Los Angeles).
    I also think they’re more than fun. They draw me in, and make me want to know more about the people I’m viewing. And speaking of viewing, I can’t get over how well these images reproduce on a calibrated display. I don’t know what’s making the difference, but they really pop.
    Well done.

  • AKAKY: I dont think talking to yourself is such a bad thing.

    AKAKY IRL: That’s because you’re a moron.

    AKAKY: You know, I can always count on you, guy.

    AKAKY IRL: No problem.

  • ¨** David Bowen
    “yes, really funny stuff and apart from being very well observed it’s refreshing to see a different take from the usual tacky British seaside desolate during winter type stuff.”
    Thanks David. (By the way, I found another one of your emails from a while back in my BT Internet spamguard online folder. I’ve turned the stupid thing off now.)¨

    paul – how funny.. reply if you can – would be interested to read it since i guess it was a while ago now..

    fantastic you have taken the time to reply to, i think, every pertinent comment..

    respect
    d

  • David — the couple of emails that I missed were just arrangements to meet up in London, which is why I was totally confused as to what was going on when I actually got the third one. I’m pretty sure I have binned them all now!

    BTW, I’m sorry if my replies seem a little cursory. I looked at Burn on Sunday evening and the essay had just gone up. The next time I had a chance to properly sit down and reply there were over 60 comments. I read them carefully but the brevity of my replies reflects the desire to reply in a reasonable timespan of the essay going up coupled with my general tongue-tied-ness. As F R David said “Words don’t come easy”…

  • ah ha.. yes.. there was confusion as i remember it.. :ø)

    shame to have not met – this work is such a treat and i could have tried to blag a print swap out of you, so i could have a little piece of home on my norwegian-wood walls.

  • Paul;

    As soon as I saw this the thought that immediately struck me was that it was a “visual” chapter of Bill Bryson’s, “Notes from a Small Island”!

    I really like the sense of space you’ve given everything. I’ve never been to the UK, but as a NZer have an affinity for the place, through family members living there, people from the UK now in the family, and of course TV programmes like Coro!!! I’ve often thought that visiting the seaside holiday towns (especially the “faded” ones; Morecambe etc) in the off season would make a wonderful essay.

    An as an aside; I reckon the Brits “do” eccentricity better than anyone else in the world. Believe me that is not a derogatory statement, but a huge compliment in this world of “sameness”

    Congratulations on this work, I love it. Thank you for allowing it to be shown

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