Video: Nigel Danson embarks upon a 30-day journey to photograph just one beach


posted Monday, April 10, 2023 at 10:30 AM EDT


Photographer Nigel Danson recently embarked upon one of the greatest projects of his three decades of photography. Danson spent 30 days photographing a single beach, Luskentyre on the Isle of Harris in Scotland.

While many photographers spend an entire day, or even a few days, photographing a single location, not many spend a month straight exploring the same spot. However, there are many benefits to repeated exposure to the same area, especially when it's a coastal area, which rapidly changes with shifting tides and enigmatic weather and light.

"Obviously, it's not something that everybody gets to do or even thinks of doing really because you'd think of going to the whole Isle of Harris rather than photographing one beach," Danson says of photographing the same beach for 30 straight days.

He was inspired after spending just three days photographing a single beach in the Isle of Sky. During that time, Danson noticed that he was seeing interesting photo opportunities by the third day that he hadn't seen in the days prior. Would this also be true at Luskentyre, and would 30 days there give rise to even more creative photographs?

For his 30-day project at Luskentyre, Danson hoped he'd be treated to diverse weather conditions, and that'd be able to find different compositions and viewpoints. "I'll be able to really engross myself in this beach and the environment around this beach."

"I think that sometimes as a photographer what you do is you go to one place, get the photo, and go to another place, especially when you're traveling," Danson says. "You end up going to lots of places and photographing them and maybe getting lucky. And I'm hoping to put all my effort into this one location."

Danson's new book, "The Spirit of Luskentyre," focuses on his 30-day photography project photographing the same beach, Luskentyre, in Scotland.

Danson's experience can be seen in the nearly hour-long video above. The project also culminated in a new book, "The Spirit of Luskentyre," which is available for preorder now. 

Repetition's relationship to creativity

Some photographers may find the idea of photographing the same beach for 30 days dull and boring, while others may wonder what sort of benefit such an endeavor could have on their photography.

Personally, while a month of only photographing one place may be a bit too much for me, the benefits of repeated visits to the same spot cannot be overstated. I have some favorite landscape photography spots that I've visited dozens of times over the years, and while not every trip results in good photos, I learn something new with each visit.

I see a location in a different season, varied weather, or brand-new light. Sometimes I find different compositions, especially in tidal areas, because they can look so dramatically different. No matter what happens concerning specific photographs, every trip to a location is an opportunity to see something new.

Danson had many opportunities to see Luskentyre in new and unique ways during his month's stay.

"New" isn't necessarily better, either, but sometimes it is. I think that a good photograph is the result of many different factors. Even beyond the obvious – composition and light – a good image results from knowledge, experience, patience, and luck. As you improve these skills, you increase your odds of going home with a good photograph.

Visiting the same location multiple times has immediate and obvious benefits upon knowledge and experience. I think there's a less obvious boost to patience as well. I find that when I have already photographed a spot, especially if I've gotten images I'm happy with, I'm able to slow down more because I don't feel pressure to "get a good shot."

As for luck, well, you sort of make your own sometimes. The more time you're out shooting, the more chances you have to get lucky.


More from Nigel Danson

To see more from Nigel Danson, visit his website and follow him on Instagram. He publishes new videos every week on his YouTube channel.

Danson's book, "The Spirit of Luskentyre," is available in three different editions on his website