Ireland's Coast is coming...

02nd November 2012
Ireland’s coast is an endless source of inspiration for me. Ever since I first laid my eyes on the cliffs around the seaside resort of Kilkee I was addicted. When I signed with the O’Brien Press to put together a book on Ireland’s coast a dream came true. Little did I know that I had woken a monster. My first vision for this book was a classic landscape photography approach in the tradition of Joe Cornish’s unrivalled book Scotland’s Coast. And as I had put myself into the landscape and nature photography niche with my previous projects, it felt like a logical step. You could also call it playing it safe.

My vision for Ireland’s Coast however soon got some holes punched into it. The O’Brien Press wanted a more comprehensive portrait. For good reasons as I have to agree now. Although Ireland has many stretches of wild coastal landscape, men have shaped an at least equal part and especially the east coast has miles of built up coastline. Although these structures are not always pretty they are an integral part of the landscape and no book would be complete without them. And as many people carve out a living from coastal resources or use it for sport and recreation it only makes sense to include them in this book.
So the brief for the project was as simple as mind-boggling: Cover each aspect of Ireland’s coast: Landscape - wild and built up -, wildlife, heritage and people.
The two years between signing the contract and the deadline became a roller coaster ride between extreme highs and as deep as it can get lows.
The first step for the project was detailed research and planning. With every book there is only so much space and it is necessary to know what pictures will go in before they are made and with limited time every trip has to be a success.
Naturally however there were obstacles: The infamous Irish weather became a major problem. Not only recorded Ireland two of the wettest and windiest summers in history, Ireland also experienced some of the harshest winters and icy and impassable roads left me stranded at home for weeks. So in the end time simply ran out for some subjects: I desperately wanted to include humpback and fin whales but in the end I only managed a handful of trips and the humpbacks unfortunately never showed. A fin whale however did and although the conditions on that particular trip could have been better the moments spent with this amazing animal were one of the high points of the project. Another highlight was a trip to Rathlin Island to visit the colony of grey seals. It was a dark and drizzly day but the seals couldn’t be bothered by both the weather and my presence. They let me come within only a few feet and I was in heaven for a few hours. For the landscape photographer in me a trip to Skellig Michael, a sunset at the Giant's Causeway and a misty sunrise at Loop Head were just a few of many unforgettable moments.
On the downside I had some rather frustrating times on the Mullet Peninsula. Three trips, three good forecasts, three wet, windy and dull stays and not much to show for in the end. There were also the other hazards like rogue waves in Co. Clare and bumpy and wet boat rides to the Great Saltee both resulting in a salt encrusted tripod and a camera that decided to quit the job.
And then there was the human factor. Before this project I saw myself as a nature and landscape photographer but for Ireland’s Coast I had to jump into the world of documentary photography: Boat builders, sail makers, fish mongers, surfers and rather reluctant citizens became my subjects. It was different, challenging, I enjoyed every minute of it and it is a style of photography I am currently exploring further.

In retrospect the years I spent working on Ireland’s Coast were the most challenging, frustrating and enjoyable I ever had as a photographer (and writer…) and I am proud of the outcome. I consider this to be my best and most versatile work to date and I am happy to share it with you.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Gordon D'Arcy for taking the time and write a beautiful foreword for Ireland's Coast.

Ireland’s Coast will be in the shops in December and is available for pre-order here. The first 10 orders will also receive a fine art print and the first 50 orders a set of postcards.

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