1920’s Inspiration at the Beach

It takes very little encouragement at this time of the year for a trip to the beach, and especially my favourite one, Whiterocks Beach outside Portrush, and rapidly becoming a favourite photography haunt for me now too 🙂

Having said that though, this photography project was planned for last Wednesday and sods law would dictate that it would be the only evening of an otherwise great spell of weather where it literally bucketed down all evening! The weather forecast was mixed so we set off in hope that it might hold out for a reasonably dry evening. It looked promising until around 7 o’clock when the ‘real’ rain came on, and did it rain or what? A drive into Portrush and Morelli’s ice creams all round, followed by an hour and a half wait and the rain was showing no signs of clearing so it was a long drive home and our model, Maurade wasn’t even out of the car!

Tuesday of this week though and it was a whole new ball game when we returned 🙂 In fact I had to seek out shade to work behind big rocks from the strong sunlight. The early part of the evening was an almost clear blue sky, and thankfully for the theme of the project the few clouds gathered into a few more, and soon there was some much needed detail going on in the sky.

I seem to be gleaning a lot of inspiration at the minute from a few key photographers I follow, and videos they have made from their work. This one was no exception and was firmly based around a fashion(y), semi- gothic beach theme from a famous Californian fashion photographer whos blog I avidly follow. Catherine had the idea to marry this into a 1920’s theme and we then had the makings of our project.

I feel very lucky to have a great team of willing and very talented assistants on these photography projects and this one was no different. A BIG thank you for hair and make-up styling goes to David Graham Hairdressing, and Catherine Fleming Make-up, both of The Linen Green, Dungannon. Also to the current Miss Northern Ireland runner-up Maurade our wonderful and very patient model. It’s worth noting again that all 3 of these people had to repeat every little detail of the preparation this week, due to last week’s rain. The same fashion photographer who was my main inspiration for this also says, if you want to be successful then you must surround yourself with successful and talented people, and how very true that is.

Here’s some of the images from a very enjoyable and rewarding evening at the beach….


The first image of the evening, and just testing exposures at this stage, but I liked it and decided to use it. Direct and hard sunlight towards the shore made things difficult, so this was a better starting point in the shade of the big rocks.

I directed Maurade to walk away from me, looking back over her shoulder with a sinister look. Maurade is fantastic at not just taking direction, but also has a real ability to convey the required mood, even in a much better way than I can explain it to her!


Balloons were replaced with a sun umbrella and other accessories of the era. 1920's style make-up completed the look.



I wanted to do a half length image with the balloons framed and contrasted against the sky.
Back with the umbrella and Maurade gave a softer over the shoulder look and full of mystery. Her straight arm nearest the camera also adds to the overall feel.


Mood and movement.


This was another prop we'd brought and weighed a ton! Photographed straight on while asking Maurade to have a lower chin position to hopefully create a powerful and dangerous picture.


Photographed from above and looking out to sea, this has all sorts of connotations. Visually the idea was to compliment the metallic voile with the white and black rocks of the background. I had originally intended this to be black and white but it was a real bonus when I saw how Maurade's hair colour was in the image so colour it was 🙂



One from the final set of images of the evening and the colours in the sky and reflected on the shore were amazing. I deliberately under exposed and later desaturated too to maintain the integrity of the mood of the evening.


Some behind the scenes….


Make-up artist Catherine gives Maurade a lip touch-up on the beach.


A candid image of Maurade between sets of images. This colour was more true of what it was actually like with the fantastic sunset evening it was at the beach. Most of the alternative colour in the other images was created in-camera for mood.


Small adjustments here and there made a big difference. I loved the shadows on the rocks here, and that's where I had my point of focus.


I couldn't resist this 'lighter' Aero moment when the balloons decided they'd had enough and went skywards of their own accord 🙂

Related Posts

4 Responses
  1. Wow – so so so amazing! Second one is my fav I think. Love the styling, makeup & hair too 🙂 Now I can put a face to a name Catherine!

  2. Hi Janine. Thank you for your very kind comments. Really appreciated. I agree, fantastic hair and make-up and I’ve David and Catherine to thank for that 🙂 Maurade is also an incredibly talented model who has a knack of just ‘getting it’ when the mood is explained. Hopefully our paths will cross some day soon on the beach. Love all your natural light work. Great technique and use of light. I keep intending to use my 85 1.4 more often!

  3. Richard

    Hi, just thought I’d track down your website to see the results of your shoot! I’m the (amateur) photographer who was talking to you for a few minutes from the other side of the rock! Fantastic lighting and processing. Nice to have met you and all the best for the future.

  4. Hi Rick. Thanks for your very kind comments, really appreciated. It turned out a great evening for the job. It was good to meet you too. I’d love to see some of your photos from the evening if you have any?

Leave a Reply