• Tankerton Slopes on a sunny day

Tankerton Photography: Creating some magic

Come take a look behind the scenes on my latest creative project.

Tankerton photography: Behind the Scenes

“Exhilarating and uplifting”. These are the generous words of my model Ellie Howell straight after experiencing Tankerton Photography head on!

And it was exhilarating and uplifting for me too.

What she’s not telling you, is sheer effort it took to get down there, battle with the mud, wait for the tide to hit the correct spot, stand with not a lot on in the cold wind and hope and pray to the sea gods that the shot will work out!

In this blog I spill all the behind the scenes juice on the effort that went into creating the winning magical image. An image that when I saw it unedited it made me cry. I knew it was ‘the one’.

The back story

Ellie took part in the first in a series of photoshoots I’ve got planned for the coming weeks.

It’s a departure for me from my usual baby and kids’ photography and I’m going to use these shoots to express myself and to play – what is it I want to say in this world? Why am I even doing photography and what do I really want to do with it?

I came up with the theme of Emergence. Those of you who follow me closely know I’ve been through a bit of trauma in the last few years, losing both my parents suddenly and then spending a stint of time in hospital with pneumonia which led to months of bed-bound recuperation at home.

I’ve had some major wake-up calls and I guess what I want to say is: I’m still here. And I can embrace life and all it’s beauty despite what’s happened to me. This series of photoshoots is about rising up from out of the ashes and rediscovering myself and what I’m here for on this earth.

It’s about rediscovery, rebirth, a celebration of all things beautiful, of womanhood and of abundance. When you’re open to receiving great things, then I truly believe that great things will come your way.

When I put out a model call for this photoshoot series, expecting to hear back from one or two potential participants, I was overblown with responses, with people who just couldn’t wait to be part of this daring and bold project!

I got around 40 replies within 12 hours and had to close down the various adverts I thought would be running for days. What’s more many of the people who replied to me have been through something big and are starting to come out the other end. One lady is just getting over cancer. One lady has just come through the menopause. Another is a young mum in the depths of early motherhood with sleepless nights and worries all flooding her way, but emerging a confident and respected mum.

Ellie, an actress, put her name forward first and by coincidence, ended up being the first model working with me.

Overall it was amazing. What an experience! It was the first time I’ve photographed anything in the sea and it was a big undertaking.

The lovey Ellie Howell posing as part of my Tankerton Photography photoshoot
Tankerton photography can take place right on the beach

You’ve gotta go with the (tide) times…

A big part of getting Tankerton photography just right is paying attention to the tide times. I have become a bit of a geek, following a great website tidetimes.org.uk and I even bought their little yellow pocket book.

I have a very particular image in mind for this first shot, and I wanted my model to stand in a very shallow and calm sea, with a beautiful dress on and looking out to sea.

To see its vastness, its expansiveness and its greatness and to receive and take it all in. We needed to organise the shoot so that it wouldn’t be high tide, as the waves would be too big and too deep.

Then I had to wait for the sunset and the low tide to coincide. And hope I got a sunny sunset, not a miserable grey rainy one!

I prayed to the sea gods and announced the date of my photoshoot and they accepted, giving me a rare glorious day and evening to set my shoot up.

Tankerton photography expert Louisa Peacock begins her series of creative photoshoots on the beach at sunset.

What to wear!

Once I’d made a deal with the sea gods to bring good weather (tee hee), I had an image in mind of a woman standing in the shallow sea, at sunset, wearing something abundant, rich and beautiful. I keep thinking about flowers and how this talks to this theme so easily for me. 

There’s something about the sheer delicacy and beauty of a flower that when it’s at its peak it is life itself; the very act of gorgeous creation and uniqueness and divinity that I wanted to capture in the shot.

It made sense to me to have my model surrounded by a plethora of gorgeous, ripe and at-their-peek flowers. I had soft pinks and warm tones in mind and decided to make my own dress with all of the silk flowers I owned.

I absolutely love the creation and think it will be a staple dress in my wardrobe offering for clients. It looks different on each woman and can be customised for each person depending on their story and what they like.

The flowers are also representing the sense of abundance, of creativity and innocence that I wanted to create.

I’ll Bring You Flowers

I bought all the flowers at Whittingtons, a trade shop in Kent. I just went in and picked the ones that spoke to me and the ones I was drawn to.

As much as I’d love to work with REAL flowers one day, you don’t have much time to work with them because they’ll start to wilt pretty quickly. Perhaps I’ll work with a florist one day to make this happen. But for the mean time I thought I’d practice on the artificial bunches for now.

They are an excellent quality and I’m really pleased with them. I also managed to glue gun them fairly easily onto this white dress and could arrange them how I felt I wanted.

The process of creating the dress was so fun!

Louisa Peacock's flower dress was used in the first of a series of creative photoshoots for Tankerton photography.

Big fun and a few ‘teething problems’!

For some reason, in my head, putting a model in the sea and photographing her was gonna be easy peasy. The only things I needed to worry about were tide times and sunshine, right?

Err, no, as I found out.

First of all it took me way longer than I thought to find a good spot on the beach for this Tankerton photography to take place. I had studied the time times and the weather was great, but the beach looked a little brown and ‘messy’ for the shot I had in mind. It’s different every day you go down there, which is why I love it so much – but on this day it wasnt as clear as I’d hoped and the floor looked too muddy!

I knew I needed to be by the shore so that I could photograph the water and not the muddy sand, but the shoreline kept moving in because the tide was coming in! This meant the model and dress would be too submerged in the water for the shot I had in mind.

I totally didn’t realise this would happen. I thought once it was out, it would stay out for a long time but it actually moves in or out a little each minute. Wow.

We finally settled near The Street in Tankerton, the famous stretch of shingles that parts the water as it goes out. Here we were near dry land, to put our things and then near enough the shore for the photography.

Tankerton Beach at sunset

So, my wellies aren’t waterproof!

I needn’t have worn wellies because my feet still managed to get completely soaked. Aren’t wellies supposed to be waterproof? The minute I got ankle deep I felt the water rushing in. 

I’m not gonna lie though, I quite enjoyed the mad rush of cold on my feet. I started to see what people who go cold-water swimming see! Only on my feet though.

My model found out about the muddy sinky sand at low tide too – she walked across in her open toe sandals and before I realised her toes and shoes were covered in mud. Luckily there was a tap nearby to wash her feet off!

Not the best start.

As she started cleaning her feet, I was faffing about doing something and then my trolley full of photography props blew over into the muddy sand! Argh! I couldn’t believe it. The wind had picked up.

If I want this experience to be effortless and about re-emerging, I’m going to have to just rise above the current chaos, ha ha.

A few other teething problems emerged, such as having to keep moving back as the shore came in and worrying about my (expensive) photography light falling over into the waves.

But then something magical happened.

Despite the mud, the cold wind, the “comedy of errors” that you can only learn from by actually doing the photoshoot, something happened.

Something very magical.

We let ourselves go. We co-created and enjoyed the space, the great outdoors, the wind, the cold, the water, the wet, the flowers, the sunshine. All of it.

All of us.

Once I’d accepted the things that went wrong, I could then just get over them and move on and work with the energy that was present in that space, in that beauty and wilderness.

And I’m so pleased with what I’ve got.

Tankerton Photography: Our bags and things are getting flooded as we got carried away in the moment.

Keep Calm and Carry On Photographing!

As you can see above, we got so carried away in the moment, enjoying the energy and feeling into the space that when I looked back briefly I saw our bags, flooding in the water as it was coming in.

Oh my goodness!

I put up that tent to protect us from the wet but firstly it kept blowing about and then it turns out it’s not waterproof (obviously), so all Ellie’s clothes got wet.

Oh dear.

We had a moment of pure divinity and love and wonderfulness then laughed our heads off as we realised she couldn’t really get changed out of the now wet flower dress into wet clothes. So she was such an amazing sport and decided to put her massive Dry Jacket over the top of her bodysuit (which was thankfully still dry) and drove home like that! Ha ha.

What an amazing woman. She’s clearly been used to worse working on set and putting up with directors and their demands! She seemed totally unphased by everything and was the perfect first woman to work with for this series of outdoors wilderness shots.

Tankerton Photographer Louisa Peacock loves to work on the beach and in the water

Want to see the finished photos?

I’m working on them. I promise to upload them here first when done.

All I can say is when I saw the raw file I was blown away, it brought me to tears.

It will take me some time to figure out how to edit them as again, it’s my first time photographing anything like this and I want to make sure the image matches the image in my head. And for that I’ll need to practice with photoshop, overlays and cloud textures and so on!

All nitty gritty stuff that will make a huge difference in the image.

So hopefully I’ll be back here very soon with the finished results! I love doing a Tankerton photography project though and if you’re interested to find out more please drop me a line!

Muswell Hill baby photographer Louisa Peacock

Louisa is the owner of Louisa Peacock Photography and runs an award-winning studio in her own home in Muswell Hill. She specialises in creative portrait photography in the studio or out and about at Kent’s beautiful seaside. Above all her photoshoots are relaxed, fun and meaningful.