Photography provides us with a return ticket to those special moments when time seems to stand still. But for Rotherham’s Nicola Jones, her new book of seascape photography transports us to the raw beauty, incarnate energy, and immersive emotion of some of Yorkshire’s most stunning nautical scenes.
Black and White by the Sea, which was released at the beginning of September, is inspired by some of Nicola’s favourite places to visit with husband Arron and their beloved dog, Patch, featuring coastal towns and fishing villages such as Staithes, Skinningrove and Flamborough.
But it’s not all about the calm tranquil waters. With harsh textures and deep shadows, the collection of photographs is embedded with old wooden rowing boats, decaying fishing boats and redundant tractors contrasting against the serene landscapes.
“I like to photograph the abandoned and forgotten, not necessarily the prettiest things as I think we have enough of that. If it’s old and decrepit or covered in rust, then I’ll photograph it. My favourite photo in the book is of the iconic Springflower coble that is moored up at the North Landing in Flamborough; the vista makes me smile every time,” Nicola says.
Never without her digital camera or the camera on her phone, Nicola (51) has been avidly taking photographs as a hobby since 2018. She’s taught herself the ropes of photography, breaking away from traditional techniques to develop her own unique style.
“With technology these days, anyone who has a decent smartphone camera can take a good photo, but you need to have an eye for composition. One time in Staithes there was a fabulous sunset, so I climbed to the top of this cliff in my heeled boots and handbag to get a photo. Two professional photographers had all their kit set up, but they were surprised with the photo I managed to get on just my phone which was held together with electrician’s tape but had the best lens.”
Nicola started sharing her shots on Twitter which were spotted by Graeme Parker from Nottingham based Dream’s Edge Publishing.
“We love to work with talented people. I honestly don’t think she realises how good she is. She has a great eye for a photo, and even inanimate objects seem to come alive in her photos,” Graeme says.
Although she may have no formal photography training, Nicola has a natural flair for art. After leaving school, she studied fashion and textiles at Rotherham College, before going on to be a manager for art retailer, Andrew’s Graphics, which had stores in Rotherham, Sheffield, Chesterfield and York. She sold her paintings in the upper floor gallery of the store on Doncaster Gate and developed intricate pergamano parchment designs in the Sheffield store.
After raising two sons, who are now in their 20s, and establishing a career in education, Nicola has rekindled her love of art, particularly throughout lockdown. She’s created art tutorial videos for her students at school, had watercolour pictures of bees and flowers bought by people in Canada and the Netherlands, and entered online photography competitions where one image placed ninth out of 2,500 entries.
And with thousands of photographs in her collection, there may be another book in the pipeline, but this time based around urbanisation.
“As well as the coast, I love taking photos of doorways and I have far too many photos of stiles and bridges. Masonry also fascinates me and I like to explore old churches and find graveyard angels. My ankles are always covered in scratches from scrambling over walls or through hedgerows and I’ve perfected what I call the South Yorkshire squat to get the best angle.”
Black and White by the Sea is available to order on Amazon for £9.99