The fishing village of West Bay to the south of Bridport in Dorset was the ‘film set’ for one of the best television crime dramas for many years. With Olivia Colman and David Tennant in the leading roles, the series was called ‘Broadchurch’ after the fictional town in the story. In the opening episode the body of a young boy was found on a beach at the foot of some spectacular cliffs.
When my wife and I visited West Bay recently we parked the car and headed down to the beach. Once there it was impossible not be reminded of ‘Broadchurch’ and the storyline which unfolded. A gripping whodunnit with many murder suspects, a plot full of red herrings and an excellent cast. Nor could I resist taking the ‘tourist’ shot of this part of the Jurrasic coastline. The cliffs are spectacular and the inclusion of a few people gives much need scale to the picture. It was a bright day with good visibility, so the cliffs in the far distance at Burton Bradstock were very clear.
After taking the shot of the cliffs, I turned through 180 degrees and took about a hundred steps along the beach. I was now facing west and looking towards the fishing harbour entrance. The harbour is protected by large sea defence boulders and a very substantial buttress wall, built to withstand high winds and stormy seas. In complete contrast to the first image, this second picture was more ‘Broadchurch’ than the picturesque postcard shot of the West Bay cliffs. I was now seeing an image which to my eyes had drama and even a sense of mystery. The inclusion of the man in the top right hand corner again provides scale but without him the picture would not be the same. It would fail to have that important human interest element, linking this now famous fictitious crime location to the storyline, which was going through my mind.
Sometimes I liken photography to sport. Before the first whistle is blown, a sportsman will warm up, stretch his muscles and rehearse in his mind his tactics for the game. In photography the first few shots can be the obvious ones. The ones which everyone with a camera will take as a record of a visit to a particular location. Nothing wrong with that; they don’t require a lot of thought or indeed great technique but it helps to get the first few shutter releases out of the way. In photography the same reasoning can be applied. The mind needs to warm up to get the creative juices flowing. The eyes need to work harder as they search for other opportunities to press the shutter beyond the obligitory holiday snap.
By warming up, turning round, and walking just a few steps in a different direction I captured two alternative shots of ‘Broadchurch’. Both have their merits but how different they are in style, subject matter and the story being told.
A second series of ‘Broadchurch’ will be shown at the beginning of next year and I for one, am eagerly awaiting its return.