Barton Birthday Blues


I hate birthdays. Mine that is, not everyone else’s. Yours is just fine by me.

In December 2016 I turned…actually I won’t give you the exact number but let’s say 40’s gently calling.

There were times I’d spend birthdays unwrapping Transformers and Subbuteo and eating jelly and ice cream. I’m not one for living in the past, but that beats the hell out of two hours spent waiting for a doctor’s appointment, a further hour being poked and pulled in the physiotherapist’s room, half an hour in the local supermarket and an additional hour running backwards and forwards from the framers to the post office.

Suffice to say I wasn’t in the best of moods; the phrase ‘blue-arsed fly’ comes to mind.

Enter the incredible brilliance of photography, brilliant for two reasons. Firstly, it gave me the opportunity to stop for the first time that day and reflect that it was my birthday – possibly not the best one ever – and that I hadn’t stopped for a breath. Not straight away mind you – first I’d wrestled and failed at forming any semblance of a decent photograph despite a brilliant arrangement of rocks, surf and clouds. But sometimes you just need to stop for a minute, take stock and regather, so I made myself comfortable on some rocks and watched the tide come in, swirl around me and head back out. Immensely healing.

The other reason photography is brilliant? Because it provides a profound means of emotional expression. My preference is always to create photography which feels calming and healing, but let’s face it, sometimes life feels neither calm nor healing. If you’re having a crappy day, you can put that into your photography. You can create drama, tension, heaviness, moodiness, and that expressive process becomes incredibly cathartic.

So here is my photograph from Barton-on-Sea, which perfectly encapsulates my heavy mood on a disappointing birthday. I was actually very lucky with respect to the tide height – had I have left it even ten minutes later, the foreground tide would have been gone, and with it, the entire photograph.

I headed to Barton beach in a dark mood and left with a massive smile on my face, and that’s the brilliance of photography.

Part of the Hengistbury Head, Mudeford and Barton collection.

Share this page