I began a documentary photography project around 2 years ago that I’ve been slowly adding to when I can and one that I hope, when complete, will allow me to put on an exhibition and share some of the images from it.

The project is called ‘Coast People‘.

The aim is to record how people interact with and use the sea along our coastline between the area of South Gare on Teesside and Flamborough Head in Yorkshire. A distance of approximately 85 miles and showing the relationships that people have with this part of the coast.

Whether it is for leisure and recreation or business and industry there are many ways in which we use and live with the sea. I’m trying to combine a mix of street, or more accurately beach photography, environmental portraiture and documentary photography to illustrate this.

I hope to show key elements that have shaped and continue to shape life along this amazing stretch of coastline as well as some of the more light hearted and traditional ways that people from all walks of life enjoy time spent at the coast. Some of the areas I have covered and have plans to cover further are; Industry, the environment, fishing, recreation, tourism and future development.

Call it social or documentary photography, call it what you will, it doesn’t really matter, but what these pictures will represent, I hope, is an accurate representation of life along our coast captured on camera at that moment in time. A photographic archive. The faces were different yesterday and last year and they will have changed by tomorrow and next year. However, many of the fundamental ways in which we use or enjoy the coast remain and in most cases long may it be so – in other areas such as the environment and how we treat the coast well maybe it is time for change?

The 16 pictures shown here are a small selection from the many I have already taken. Chosen to reflect some of the areas I mention and as the project develops I will post updates and further pictures. So take a look and feel free to comment, respond, ask questions, make suggestions and, should you wish, share this project with others you know and spread the word.

This is our coastline, they are our beaches, it is our sea and ultimately our way of life. Let’s not forget or lose it.




A woman casts for Mackerel during an evening fish off Saltburn Pier

Saltburn local Sam Davies trains his dog ‘Meg’

A man sleeps in the warmth of the afternoon sun as he sits on Saltburn Pier

A tourist buys ice cream from a shop on Flamborough Head

A couple enjoy an afternoon drink at North Landing, Flamborough

A woman prepares for an evening swim in the sea at Sandsend

A fisherman returns to the beach at Saltburn from a sea fishing trip in his kayak

A photographer waits for the right light

A family on holiday sit on the sea wall and enjoy the sun on Coatham Beach, Redcar

The EDF energy platform off Redcar and the Gare works through the night drilling in pylon supports for a wind farm

A boy looks on at the carcass of a dead harbour porpoise washed up on the beach

A fisherman from the South Gare Fisherman’s Association

Visitors take a break at ‘Clara’s Cafe’ in Whitby

A fisherman from Redcar collects winkles at low tide on the reef under Huntcliff at Saltburn

A man casts his lobster pots from the reef at low tide in Staithes, North Yorkshire

People help to keep the beach at North Bay in Scarborough in a clean condition and leave rubbish to be collected by the council

4 responses to “Coast People – the story so far…”

  1. Andrew H Avatar
    Andrew H

    Great set of photos. A bit Killip, part Parr, and a hint of Ray-Jones. Deserves publication for sure.


    1. Ian Forsyth Avatar
      Ian Forsyth

      Thanks Andrew. Kind words indeed…a little too kind to make that comparison I fear but appreciated nonetheless.
      Cheers mate.


  2. Stuart Bingham Avatar

    As ever, a great set of picture. Looking forward to the book.


    1. Ian Forsyth Avatar
      Ian Forsyth

      Cheers Stu…
      Me too if I can fine anyone who would publish 🙂


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