Ross Hoddinott on... Developing your own style
“I often head to the coast with a specific shot in mind and I will have studied tide charts, the weather forecast – and also be aware of the sun’s position – to help ensure I’m in the right place at just the right time. However, in reality, I rarely return home with the shot I intended to capture. Air pressure can significantly alter tide height, while the sea might be messy or the foreshore unexpectedly littered with debris. Sea spray might be an issue or the sky cloudless and boring in the direction I had hoped to shoot. There are so many variables that may dictate a complete change of approach or viewpoint. You need to be able to react to the situation and diversify if necessary. In other words, don’t be so focused or preoccupied on shooting a particular viewpoint that you overlook other opportunities.
“Be reactive and spontaneous to the light and conditions on the day. Coastal scenes are forever changing, so you need to be able to adapt quickly. When shooting at beach level, I like to be close to the water’s edge, so I’m regularly moving forward – or retreating, if it is an incoming tide – in order to stay close to the action. Doing so often requires me to work quickly and instinctively. Shots tend to evolve and improve as you go along. I like black & white, but rarely see it for my own shots – it is unusual for me to convert shots to mono. However, I do like shooting detail, shape and form and the coast is a great place for shooting the ‘intimate landscape’. I will often look for slightly more abstract beach images – swapping wide-angle lenses for a short telephoto length in order to highlight patterns in the sand, interesting geology, texture and design. This can produce very unconventional coastal shots that can stand out from the crowd.”