Our project “Out of Season” took us to Walton-on-the-Naze, a small British seaside town in Essex, to document the area just weeks before the British summer was officially due to kick in. We were curious to explore this coastline when it wasn’t filled with families lining the beach with deck chairs, rows of nurtured sand castles and people eating double scoop ice creams from a cone.
We found it rather strange to see such an amazing sandy beach, usually full of energy and life during peak times, looking like what could perhaps be described as an abandoned ghost town. The photos, in particular, captures this sense of baron space. However, Walton has so much charm and nostalgia, and for some, it has a deep sense of belonging and history too. Along with the featured stills we also produced a short docu-film where we spoke to Stephen, a resident beach hut owner in Walton-on-the-Naze, about his personal connection to the area.
Why we set out document this British seaside town
Having visited Clacton-on-Sea as children, I think the gravitational pull of nostalgia is what drew us to neighbouring Walton-on-the-Naze. But the original catalyst to this project was that we wanted to start without a definitive brief, as an exercise in sharpening creativity on the fly. From my perspective (Hax) as a filmmaker, I’m a stickler for a brief. Often filming with the edit in mind, I like to pick and choose my shots with a sense of purpose and end result, which in actual fact is a trait that can sometimes obscure creativity. Tarik on the other hand, as a photographer, has an admirable ability to use shapes and composition to allow each picture to tell its own story… a skill he’s developed over years of shooting street photography. Click HERE to see Tarik’s street photography project documenting the city of Hong Kong.
Given the time of year we visited Walton, we knew that it wasn’t going to be busy… so that was no surprise. We focused on creative ways of capturing these vast empty spaces, and the occasional people that happened to pass through them. The “nugget” for me, was when we wrapped and happened to pass a friendly looking gentleman bustling about his beach hut on the way back to our car. When asked, Stephen was more than happy to tell us a little about himself on camera and his personal attachment to the area. From a filming perspective, this was the “glue” that allowed me to build the edit around a tangible narrative. It was something that truly came out of nothing, a lesson within itself. It takes a real element of skill and foresight to follow a brief, but you can learn an awful lot by just letting go and not following anything at all… sometimes, stories can pop up and find you.