Remembering a day at the beach

2012 began for me with a long, rainy drive back home (after a week of glorious idleness with my parents) and for the first time this winter I felt the tug of summer. Of bare feet, no coat, and green trees. But all that is a way off and we’re settling in for the long haul of a British January through February, March and beyond.

And it’s with all this in mind that I look back 6 months to a day I spent at the beach with two dear friends.

For many years now Ria Mishaal has unofficially been my official photographer. She took the author photo for my book, Poseidon’s Steed. She photographed the book’s Cambridge launch. She knows better than anyone else just how often I blink.

When I got married, I cheekily asked if she wouldn’t mind grabbing her camera and taking a few shots. I was her first bride-to-be and happily not the last – that experience didn’t put her off and she recently became a full-time wedding photographer.

Over the past year, in the process of her taking the plunge and going freelance, we had long chats about our respective websites and together we agreed it was time I put up some pictures that reflected a little better what it is I do.

My old website was based around a picture she took of me. She had somehow caught me in a rock-star moment, looking moodily away from the camera (and nobody would have guessed it was taken in the Asda carpark in Leicester).

My old website photo

To get some images that speak more of oceans and writing, Ria and I, plus  Jake (who since then has become her husband), drove to the coast.

After getting nowhere among ugly caravan and amusement parks around Burnham on Sea, we found a stretch of striking sand and pebbles at StolfordHere is my account of what went on that day. Take a look at Ria’s blog to see things from her perspective.

At this point I should perhaps point out that I’m not especially comfortable being photographed. I worry about frizzy hair and funny expressions. I feel silly posing. And did I mention that I blink a lot? (my optician tells me I have Very Dry Eyes).

“Take the sunglasses off!” is the frequent yell from Ria’s side of the lens.

But eventually I relax a little and start enjoying myself, poking around in rock pools and pirouetting across the sand. We play about with piles of books and my beloved red satchel (from the Cambridge Satchel Company – they’ve got huge since I bought my bag 2 years ago to accompany my author tour in the US).

When the shoot is over I begin the nervous wait for Ria to sift through the images and decide which ones to show me. And when I see them I’m amazed at how many I like.

Some I love because she’s captured a better, more glamorous version of me; some I like because she’s caught a version of me that I know well and sums up some part of me (see the first image below); and some give me a whole new perspective on me (I’ve never before seen myself cartwheeling). And looking back at that blue sky make me pine even more for warm weather and sand between my toes.

All-in-all, once again, Ria has done an incredible job of being patient with me in front of the lens and come up with some wonderful shots that capture moments and memories of mucking about on the beach.

Thank you Ria.

Here are some of my favourite pics including some that haven’t yet made it elsewhere on the new site.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

The writer and the wavesreply
January 9, 2012 at 11:53 am

[…] To accompany the launch of Helen Scales’s new site, we both thought we would blog about the shoot. See Helen’s version of the day here. […]

Duane Falkreply
July 16, 2018 at 11:26 pm

Have been reading Eye of the Shoal and enjoying it very much! Very informative and written in an interesting way. I dont inagine the publisher gave you the option bit i do wish there were photos of the fish to accompany the text. Despite the chapter ðage illustrstions,I found myself with google open as i read.

Also, just fyi for future peintings- there is an error on page 151. You describe Lorenz’s aquarium as 4x4x2 meters, then equate that to 1.2×1.2x.6 ft. Should be 12x12x6 ft, otherwise its a teeny little aquarium!!

Look forward to your future books.
Duane Falk

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