Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m deeply shallow and vain and a show-off. In anyone else, this is considered a virtue and called ‘confidence’. Read this as you will, but it takes confidence to prance about cross-dressed in a swimsuit…
I wanted to do some beach photos for the calendars I made for my friends. I wanted them to look sporty, or glamourous, or a bit retro. Only two things stood in my way: a lack of swimsuits, and no idea where to go.
Procuring swimsuits was easy enough; cheap supermarket ones would do. There was no way I could pull off a bikini (by which I mean wear one confidently), so I found a terrifically ugly one-piece polka-dot affair, one with a magenta stripe, and cheapest of all, a simple black number. Surely, even without the benefit of Spanx, one of them would work out? (In the end, I found a use for all three.)
Choosing a location was a different problem. I wanted something on the east coast partly because of proximity, but also to get a sunrise shot – even if, at the latitude on which I live (further north than Moscow), a summer sunrise occurs at 4.30am.
It took a few weekends consulting Google Maps and driving around to some bleak, desolate, rocky coves that would only interest geological field trips, but I homed in on Tyne Sands near the town of Dunbar. Then I had to make sure the skies would be clear… and I decided to check the tides for good measure. These weren’t just swimsuit photos; I was going to science the shit out of this.
Just a few weeks after standing at a local roundabout dressed as a bunny girl, I found myself taking off my clothes on a freezing cold deserted beach in the pre-dawn light at about 4.20am. I should get my head examined.
The first plunge into the water was agony; you won’t see any photos of that. But after a few minutes, I got used to it. And then the sun broke, a deep red. Even here, there was something incredibly life-affirming about staring at the sun as it crept over the same waves that were lapping around my knees.
Still, I wasn’t here to have fun. I tried to remember to suck in my gut, and pose properly, but I couldn’t exactly splash back to the sand and check the photos my girlfriend was taking, and then splash back for some more. A lot of it was down to just hoping for the best (in retrospect, I wish I’d gone a little bit further into the waves).
So much for the sporty shots. I changed into the polka-dot affair, and had to tuck my bra-straps into my bra in order to wear the halterneck properly. If the crew of the two distant fishing boats happened to be up and awake and looking at the beach through binoculars, then maybe they’d’ve freaked out. But I’m pretty sure they weren’t.
The purpose of the next set was to go for the retro/glam look. I’d already sketched out poses and ideas for all of these, so it was just a case of finding a suitable stretch of beach. Happily, the sun was at just the right angle and direction to provide a good, golden light. I brought props: a beach towel; an empty wine bottle and glass; a can of Red Bull to make do for the wine; and a book (Backwards In High Heels if you must know) – all to cultivate the impression that I’m a classy fucker, me.
I had one more swimsuit and one more set of photos in mind. I wanted to do a set of astrology-themed pictures, and decided that sitting in a rockpool with a toy crab would work for ‘Cancer’ (in the end, the toy crab turned out to be too small and washed out in the sunlight, so I pulled a funny face and Photoshopped one in, instead).
The rocks were on the other side of the river, so we had to pile into the car, drive around, park next to camper vans full of slumbering surfers, and head through a patch of forest to the river mouth. The tide was far enough out to pose on the rocks and seaweed for a bit (for some reason, it didn’t feel like I was in Scotland any more; it also felt like I was on a mini-holiday).
On the way back home, we stopped at the small town of Haddington and got a few green, leafy shots by the river and the church (it was still early enough that nobody was about).
Obviously, I’m not going to share absolutely all the photos that were taken – but if you ever want to feel glammed up and have a beach to yourself, then first thing after sunrise on a summer morning is the time to do it.
And yes, the sand got EVERYWHERE.