Rachael Talibart’s Top Tips for photographing the UK’s coastline.

Rachael Talibart, critically acclaimed seascape photographer and SWCP Photographer of the Year 2021 judge, shares her top tips for photographing the coastline.

Rachael Talibart is an award-winning photographer and this year’s judge for our South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year competition. Her critically acclaimed photographs of the ocean and coast have been shown in galleries all over the world.

Rachael has written the following top tips to help inspire you to pick up your camera, walk the Path, get creative, and capture some great shots. We hope that many of you will be encouraged to submit your photographs to our competition – we can’t wait to see them!

Photo Credit: Rachael Talibart

The South West Coast Path makes accessible some of the UK’s most beautiful coastline. Rugged cliffs and secluded coves provide a great vantage point for watching and photographing my favourite subject, the sea, but even if there isn’t any ocean in your composition, the land here has been carved by the ocean over millennia so your story is still about the sea.

Photography is a wonderful art form, accessible to so many but still very hard to do really well.

Photographing things with thought and care connects us to our subjects and the fulfilment that comes from creating improves our health and happiness. I believe that observing things others haven’t noticed is the photographer’s super-power. An imaginative photographer can open our eyes and enrich our experience of the world.

Here are some tips for creating images that will stand out from the crowd. 

  • Use your imagination. A photograph that simply documents a scene is unlikely to stand out. Instead of trying to show the viewer what they would have seen if they’d been standing next to you, how about trying to show them something they might not have noticed? 
  • Go easy on the processing. There’s nothing wrong with processing; skilful and proportionate processing can elevate an image and if you work in RAW it’s necessary. However, if the first thing the viewer notices about a photograph is the processing, that photograph is unlikely to impress.
  • Share what interests you, not what you think others will like. Resist the lure of the social media viewpoint. Try not to copy the style and compositions of influencer photographers. When you’re just starting out, copying others can be a great way to acquire the craft but, if you don’t move on, you risk never finding your own voice. We all recognise the famous views from this amazing place so it will be harder for those photographs to stand out.
Photo Credit: Rachael Talibart
  • Be experience driven rather than results driven. If you have an amazing time making photographs, that should be enough. If you task yourself with bagging a ‘keeper’, you’re likely to experience disappointment on a regular basis. Make photographs because you love it and powerful images will follow.
  • Remember to take time out from making photographs to notice what your other senses are bringing you. The South West Coast Path is a rich environment and there is so much more to it than just the visuals. Experience the place and the moment fully. You will have a better time overall and I believe your photography will also improve. 
  • Let’s respect the landscape and the ocean. We’ve all heard sad tales of photographers trampling delicate habitats in their desire to get the shot. Wouldn’t it be lovely if, instead, we gave something back? I like to take some plastic away from every beach I visit. It’s my way of saying thank you. Imagine if we all did that?

Follow Rachael:

Enter our 2021 Photographer of the Year Competition

The competition is open to anyone and everyone who has taken a photograph from or near the South West Coast Path and you can ENTER as many times as you like.

This year our theme is EXPLORATION, and we want to celebrate the less well-known sites and places that can be found on the iconic National Trail. Over the past two years, the South West has welcomed increasing numbers of people to the area, which at times has placed pressure on ‘honeypot sites’ as they become overcrowded. Those craving solitude, space, or simply a different viewpoint have adventured further and been richly rewarded.

These are the places and moments that we want to see celebrated in this year’s entries. Show us what ‘Exploration’ means to you, so we can inspire others to adventure further too.


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