Gareth's mission to take a different view

He has lived by the coast all his life and now he is a professional photographer Gareth Hacon is dedicating himself to recording the landscape that he loves. He spoke to KEIRON PIM ahead of his exhibition in Norwich.

Most people who live in Norfolk have favourite areas of coastline, but not so many of us have explored it thoroughly from one end to the other. Gareth Hacon has spent months visiting seaside destinations along the east coast, from remote spots to tourist destinations, and the results of his travels are documented in his new photographic exhibition in Norwich.

The Caister-based photographer, whose work is on display at the Forum in Norwich from August 6 to 12, aims to find new ways of portraying the familiar coastline, as well as a few locations a little further inland.

Sometimes this involves setting out from home in the early hours to catch first light on the beach (often using long exposures, creating a ghostly effect) or finding unusual corners that might usually escape people's attention. One photo, titled Gate 51, looks like a remote rural scene, but in fact is only yards from the Acle Straight.

Most of his images are black and white, although some involve subtle use of colour.

Subjects include Cromer pier, emphasising its geometric patterns, a misty Filby Broad, Southwold's beach huts at first light, breakwaters at Hopton, and assorted other destinations between Hunstanton on the west Norfolk coast all the way round to Snape in east Suffolk. It has been hard work at times, for instance when he has set off for west Norfolk in the early hours from his home near Yarmouth, only to find that the conditions were not right on arrival.

But he says that no trip is ever a wasted one, as they may still give him ideas for future images and a better understanding of the areas he is photographing.

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Gareth's work reached a wider audience when he featured on ITV's series Coastal Inspirations earlier this year, which featured a selection of artists from up and down the East Anglian coast.

“The director of the show had seen my work and contacted me because they thought my work fitted with what the show was going to be about,” he says. Gareth is 31 and has been working as a professional photographer for three years, having studied graphic design at Lowestoft College when he was younger. The course included photographic training and set him on the path to his career. He believes it is a great time to be a photographer as the craft is undergoing a revolution at the moment, becoming more and more popular thanks to digital technology.

“In the early 1990s I took a course in art and design, and at the end of it, when everyone wants to find out what you want to do, I decided I wanted to go back to photography, because I really enjoyed what I did on the course.

“About three years ago I started selling and marketing my work as a photographer. I think photography has had a renaissance now. If you look at film it's on the decline but if you look at digital cameras they are booming. I think people today are more aware of photography - everyone has a phone with a camera on it.”

Gareth uses a Nikon D2X camera with AFS lenses, and takes pride in the fact that as well as shooting the images, he is in control of every aspect of their production.

“Everything I do, I produce myself. I print them, make the mounts, stretch the canvases by hand, and use handmade frames.”

He says he has had a positive response to his work so far.

“A lot of people react kindly to the images. I put all my effort into it because it's what I believe in, like a musician would create songs. Living by the coast all my life, it's in my blood.

“I walk my dog on the beach, go for runs on the beach. The good thing about East Anglia is that you don't have to go far before you are away from everything.”

See www.garethhacon.com. His work will be on display at the Forum, Millennium Plain, from Sunday August 6 through to Saturday August 12.

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