Open Water Swimmers
Brief: To photograph open water swimmers in the River Mersey with a backdrop of Liverpool and docks. To be used in a regional campaign during 2022.
A number of factors needed to be taken into consideration with this shoot. The best time to take to open water affected by tides is usually an hour before and after high tide when the water tends to be calmer. In winter the opportunities to do this are limited as with shorter days there are some days when high tides aren’t occurring during daylight hours. Add into this mix the weather. Storm Arwen resulted in the postponement of one scheduled shoot and further strong winds also led to delays.
So one of the last shoots of 2021 became one of the first shoots of 2022. Members of the Wirral Bluetits kindly gave up their Sunday afternoon to be photographed for a regional campaign. The sun was shining and whilst the wind was creating waves, they were manageable for the depth we went into.
Unlike the majority of the Bluetits who were managing perfectly well without wetsuit, I was in full wetsuit to ensure that I could get close up and a slightly different perspective to just shooting from the shoreline. More importantly it meant that I wasn’t getting cold which can make working with a camera difficult. Waterproof casing for the digital slr meant camera operation was a little more fiddly than usual but meant that I could get in close to those involved and have the camera slightly below the surface of the water for a different perspective.
Temperature is always an issue to be considered when photographing people on location. When someone is cold it is pretty easy to see it from their facial expression. The advantage of shooting a group like this who swim in the river regularly is that they have acclimatised to the temperature and I probably had a good 15 minutes shooting time with them in the river with many of them staying in longer than that.
The group were fantastic in the water and whilst I was ready to add direction, it was totally unnecessary. The fun that they have spending time together as a group and doing what they love was completely infectious and translated perfectly into the images. The timing of the shoot meant that I was photographing with the light falling on the swimmers as opposed to them being backlit and having the issue of needing to add in artificial light. Another factor that needs to be taken into account when doing location portraiture.
Bluetits Chill Dippers/ Wirral Bluetits
A big thank you to the Wirral Bluetits for stepping up to the social media request for some local swimmers for the shoot. For anyone considering having a go at open water swimming I would strongly recommend going with a local group especially from a safety perspective. There are Bluetits groups across the UK and they can be found on Facebook and via the website (see links below). They have a reputation for inclusivity, friendliness and for all abilities of swimmers including those who are just going to do some toe dipping. Most areas where there is open water swimming available have swimming groups who are valuable sources of safety information before taking a dip.
There are prints of the Liverpool skyline (without the swimmers) available at https://shop.saraporterphotography.co.uk/product/liverpool-skyline-mounted and for the larger art print https://shop.saraporterphotography.co.uk/product/liverpool-skyline A donation to the RNLI is made with each print sale.
Bluetits Chill Dippers https://thebluetits.co/
Wirral Blue Tits https://en-gb.facebook.com/groups/494050641789109/about/
For anyone looking to commission photography please get in touch via https://www.saraporterphotography.co.uk/info/contact/ or call 07979 291300