• Mark Wylie

Test shots: Hayling Island

Updated: May 23

I always like the idea of going somewhere new and seeing what a place can have to offer. The idea of taking photographs is often a good excuse for such explorations. Recently, I got on to Google maps and started looking at some of the coastal areas within roughly an hour's drive of where I live. I had visited Southsea late last year and wondered where else could be interesting in the area. I had a couple choices, but Hayling Island drew my attention due to the beach and theme park.

I arrived on a cold, damp Monday morning at Funland theme park. It didn't look that fun to me. My immediate impressions were that I'd bought the wrong camera (a digital), this place needs to be shot on film. There was something about the place that was open, exposed and raw. To me, this seemed to fit with using 35mm film (well, it's either that or 5x4 large format as I don't have any medium format cameras that work anymore!). I then spent the rest of the morning exploring different areas to see what potential they held for me.

On the Tuesday, I returned with a couple of film cameras, one loaded with Ilford HP5+ and the other with Kodak Portra 160 (rated at ISO 80). I wasn't sure if I wanted to record the place in colour or mono, so I figured I would take some test shots with each, process the films, then decide what I preferred. I spent much of 2021 shooting HP5+ for my Summerland project, so I was leaning towards colour for a change. However, the jury is still out on what I finally decide to do as my pull towards monochrome is always strong!

I find that when I shoot, if I have both digital and film cameras on me, I will lean to the digital as it is more convenient. If I have colour or mono, then I will lean towards my favourite style is at the time. So, what I will probably do as I shoot this project is just take one camera and one film type. Then, I just have to work with what I have got. Sometimes too much choice is not a good thing!

I've only scratched the surface of the area, but it is clear to me that there is a project to be created here. The area has a lot of potential. I also like the fact that it is not as well known (at least to me) a location as Bournemouth or Weymouth. Hayling has a feel of being a typical provincial tourist resort out of season in that it's quiet, almost desolate. There is something intriguing about shooting in places that are a little more off the beaten track and less familiar. They certainly have their own character and feel about them, a sort of dishevelled old world charm.

I'm not quite sure how long this project will be for, that really depends on how it develops and grows. I often find there is a point where I start repeating myself, which is a sign that the work is coming to an end. My thoughts, at the moment, are to shoot there for a while, pause, then return over the summer when the coast is more alive with the usual sun seekers to see how the place looks then.


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