The best of Dorset in words and pictures

Drawn to the coast

A deep-seated attraction to the sea is what inspires Andy Farrer’s coastal shots

Shooting the Cobb from an angle which doesn’t show its curvature at all was both a deliberate attempt to get a different look, but also a [somewhat rare] nod to self preservation as the seas were crowning the Cobb regularly and it wasn’t safe to go along it. As Andy says: ‘There were epic waves on this day, so it was shot with as fast a shutter speed so that I could capture as many droplets of water frozen in mid-air as possible.'

Shooting the Cobb from an angle which doesn’t show its curvature at all was both a deliberate attempt to get a different look, but also a [somewhat rare] nod to self preservation as the seas were crowning the Cobb regularly and it wasn’t safe to go along it. As Andy says: ‘There were epic waves on this day, so it was shot with as fast a shutter speed so that I could capture as many droplets of water frozen in mid-air as possible.’

Andy Farrer’s love of the sea in general, and the Purbeck coast in particular, come from the fact that he was born and bred in Swanage. His love of photography comes from the moment when, on returning from a holiday to the Isle of Wight, for which he’d been bought a Kodak Instamatic, his photos turned out to be better than those taken by his father.

‘This is my best-selling Old Harry shot by a mile, but it’s so rare to see the foliage and flora, it’s often quite threadbare. This is a good viewpoint for summer sunrises, in the winter you’d have a job to get the sun in the same shot.’

‘This is my best-selling Old Harry shot by a mile, but it’s so rare to see the foliage and flora, it’s often quite threadbare. This is a good viewpoint for summer sunrises, in the winter you’d have a job to get the sun in the same shot.’

He tried many different photographic fields after going to art college – doing weddings, portraits, even working in laboratories – but left photography alone for a while. In 2007, he was blown away by the quality of the digital pictures taken by the photographer at his wedding and so he started back up again. He’s not looked back since.

‘I first photographed this composition,’ remembers Andy, ‘when I was at art school. It’s an iconic shot now and I was living about 500 yards from here when I took it. People recognise me for my colour work and I was lucky with the colours and the clouds’ shape and this shot is how I would do it if I could control the clouds. This has been a special place for me. I feel I’m a bit more entitled to take this shot as a Swanage man than others!’

‘I first photographed this composition,’ remembers Andy, ‘when I was at art school. It’s an iconic shot now and I was living about 500 yards from here when I took it. People recognise me for my colour work and I was lucky with the colours and the clouds’ shape and this shot is how I would do it if I could control the clouds. This has been a special place for me. I feel I’m a bit more entitled to take this shot as a Swanage man than others!’

Andy’s trademark shot can probably best be described as a familiar scene, but shot in a way that’s different to the sometimes hackneyed views that have been taken by visitors. This comes from Andy’s familiarity with the subjects, his proximity to them (which permits him to see scenes at all times of year, many of which will not be familiar to those who only visit Dorset) and, his willingness to go out in all weathers and at all times of day to be there when the particular magical combination of light direction, cloud positioning and tonal range required for a particular shot appears for a brief moment.

Taken on the morning of Andy’s 40th birthday, this winter sunrise of Dancing Ledge was shot deliberately without the swimming pool, to differentiate it from the standard Dancing  Ledge image

Taken on the morning of Andy’s 40th birthday, this winter sunrise of Dancing Ledge was shot deliberately without the swimming pool, to differentiate it from the standard Dancing Ledge image

This is perhaps exemplified (if not in terms of health and safety) when he went out twice on the first day of the major storms that battered the Purbeck coast in February this year. He headed straight for Durdle Door thinking he might be the person to get the last picture of the Door itself – or perhaps the first picture of the gatepost left after the storms had battered it. As it turns out, he sat for hours in the morning, but the light was wrong, all his drying cloths were soaking and he himself was too. After a brief trip home, he returned to catch the memorable shot shown in this piece of Durdle Door almost wholly obscured by the massive waves battering it. Fortunately, both Andy and Durdle Door survived.

This was from the first set of storms in February 2014. As Andy recalls: ‘This shot is practically at low tide, despite the foam on the beach reaching the cliffs. There was a boulder – about the size of a commercial wheelie bin – being tossed in onto the beach and then out. In the morning, the waves (not the spray, but the waves) had been hitting the cliffs up to the level of the grass. The beach was completely flat after the storms. ’

This was from the first set of storms in February 2014. As Andy recalls: ‘This shot is practically at low tide, despite the foam on the beach reaching the cliffs. There was a boulder – about the size of a commercial wheelie bin – being tossed in onto the beach and then out. In the morning, the waves (not the spray, but the waves) had been hitting the cliffs up to the level of the grass. The beach was completely flat after the storms. ’

In terms of photography, his revisiting of his favourite scenes means that he can ‘allow nature to make the patterns. The coastline changes a lot and you can take a sequence of pictures which, whilst technically the same, show different clouds, different light, different seas.’

'I was pining to get a sunset and this boat in Poole Harbour is a nice focal point for that sunset. It’s very easy to imagine yourself on it with a glass of wine.'

‘I was pining to get a sunset and this boat in Poole Harbour is a nice focal point for that sunset. It’s very easy to imagine yourself on it with a glass of wine.’

As to his constant attraction to the sea, Andy describes it thus: ‘The sea is a lot louder than the woods; the noise blocks everything else out and you can just be.’ ◗

Shot from the same place as the Old Harry shot, this summer sunset shot is one of the few in Purbeck – indeed Dorset – where you can get a westward-looking sunset shot with sea in it

Shot from the same place as the Old Harry shot, this summer sunset shot is one of the few in Purbeck – indeed Dorset – where you can get a westward-looking sunset shot with sea in it

 

Dorset Directory