Why I Spent 30 Days Photographing the Same Beach

Most of the time in landscape photography, we plan to visit several incredible destinations and photograph them over the course of a week-long trip, typically capturing seven or eight different places.

Although I have been doing this type of photography for over 30 years and have taken some incredible shots to add to my portfolio, I often find that I don’t get the conditions I would like or that I don’t find a composition that does the landscape justice when I visit one of these locations only a handful of times.

More recently, as I’ve done more woodland photography and enjoyed the slower pace it offers, I’ve found the benefits of repeat visits to the same forests.

In 2020, I spent three days on the Isle of Skye photographing Elgol beach from dawn to dusk each day, and I originally thought that may be a little bit too long and that I would get bored with that confined spot. What amazed me was how I started to see things differently, find unique compositions, and start to understand the changes caused by the tides, different weather, and sun position.

I had also started to experience more creative blocks in my photography and felt that I needed a project to focus my creativity, so I decided to repeat the project for an even longer time. I think that sometimes landscape photography becomes too focused on getting the epic shot, rather than telling a story that can be more effectively communicated through multiple photos as a progression of the transient landscape.

The resulting month long trip to Luskentyre Beach in the Outer Hebrides was one of the most incredible experiences of not only my photography, but my life.

I was able to catch the fleeting moments and start to understand the landscape as the weeks passed by. This resulted in shots with more meaning and telling a story of the location. This is often forgotten in the instant dopamine rush of social media.

I realized that landscape photography isn’t about the planning, although that still remains important, but how you react to the transient conditions that yields the most fulfilling results. These ever changing conditions resulted in many rainbows, incredible waves and shell mushrooms of all things!

But more importantly I think that doing something like this gave my photography a focus and that helped my creativity. I think that is something I would highly recommend to everyone. “But wait”, you say. “I have no beach, or a month to spare”! I think if you find a tree, hill, or woodland, or beach if you are lucky enough to be by the coast, that is close to where you live and try and photograph it over the month or year that you will improve your photography and maybe produce something that has more meaning. Give it a try.

The video at the top of this article, called ‘The Spirit of Luskentyre’, charts the first week of this incredible month. Give it a watch if you have bit of spare time.

About the author: Nigel Danson is a landscape photographer based in the UK. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Danson’s work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.