Paul Heathcote Photography | Part 2 - Water, why?

Scene from the Water's Edge:

Part 2 – Water, why?

In Part 1 I explained a bit about my background and some suggestions as to why water in landscapes might be important to me based on childhood memories, but in this section I will look in more detail into why water inspires me. What exactly is it that draws me to the water?

Obviously there are some complex emotions involved in inspiration and creativity and therefore to put pen to paper on exactly what it is that gets our artistic juices flowing is never easy.

Whilst trying to think of an answer to this question several months ago, I took a break from writing to go and shoot a sunset along the River Soar in Normanton On Soar, just a couple of miles from my home. This is a lovely stretch of river with boat moorings, a riverside pub and church, just an idyllic English scene.

I don’t normally like sunsets for various reasons, but on this occasion it was looking a bit moody and stormy and I had half an idea for a shot, so why not. If I do shoot sunsets I like them to be either soft, pastel colours or stormy, moody skies, but definitely not raging, nuclear sunsets.

As I arrived and walked over the weir to get to some of my favourite locations I was hit with the strong smell of churned up river. The smell that results from a body of water moving, in a somewhat aggressive fashion over the weir and off towards its next destination. Now to most this smell would be quite off putting, to me it started to bring back memories of my childhood, fishing near the local water mill. I recall standing there, almost trance like, taking strong sniffs of the air. To an onlooker I may have looked like the local madman, to me, it was intoxicating. Memories came flooding (no pun intended) back.

It wasn’t anything to do with the actual smell, it was the trigger for a strong memory. One which made me forget any problems in life and remember a simpler time. Was that it? Was this why water was so important to me?

 

If I look past the memories of sight and sound, and even other senses of falling in, there is something magical about water to me.

There is the lovely stillness of my local country park reservoir, early morning with soft tones of colour reflecting off the mirror like surface as a gentle mist rolls over the scene. A truly magical time of the day when you, alone, can witness something that for most people is not seen due to the unsociable hour often associated with these scenes. Seeing a new day start, alone in the low light with just the faint sound of deer antlers clanking in the country park close by is truly fantastic and at the same time inspiring.

From that you move to small streams and rivers, where every ounce of water is jostling for position as it makes its way to its next destination. Like a crowd of commuters, the water pushes its way through what ever gets in its way, swirling and splashing through the scene. With larger rivers the scene is like a mass crowd swelling its way through the streets. The movement is mesmerising and the longer you stand and watch, the more detail within the water you see.

 

Then you have the coast. The sound, rhythmically moving across shingles and rocks, crashing and splashing. The smell, salty and fresh with memories of childhood trips to seaside towns and beaches. Whether it is aggressively drawing in or calmly withdrawing, the tide is such a powerful thing and it is almost impossible to not be in awe of it.

Whether it is a stillwater, manmade or natural, a river, a canal or the magical coast, water is intoxicating and enticing to me. Too complex to put in words but I hope that my images can capture some of the appeal to me so that others can enjoy the magic.

 

 

 

More to come in Part 3…