Surfability DIY SOS BIG BUILD - BIG REWARD
September is usually when I’m very busy shooting and editing a full summer of weddings, festivals, family portraits and the like.
But 2020 has been a different year. In one big wave I've lost almost year's worth of income.
It struck me hard emotionally; by not being able to work I realised how much I love photographing people and the thought of maybe having to change my career and retrain like the government advises us creative people to do was just soul-destroying.
When I saw Children in Need's DIY SOS Facebook post announcing the Big Build for a new Surfability Centre down at Caswell Bay and asking for volunteers I contacted them straight away offering to donate my photographic services.
I know Ben personally, who founded of the company, therefore, I did have some knowledge of what Surfability is all about.
This made me even more determined to have a chance of photographing the project.
Surfabilty UK is a world-leading adaptive surf school. They adapt to the needs of children with disabilities; allowing them to take to the waves. So many of these children have never been in the sea let alone had a chance to ride a wave.
The DIY SOS team asked me to arrange a photo shoot with Ben.
So off I went down to Caswell Bay. Luckily the weather was on my side. It was a beautiful sunny day and there I was knee-deep in the sea for about 5 hours.
The volunteers kept asking me ” you ok? You're not cold? You’ve been in for hours.”
To be honest I really don’t like the cold and am a little scared of going into the sea.
All those fears went away because photographing the joy on the kids' faces as they were riding the waves was just truly amazing.
I didn’t have to stay all afternoon but I knew at the end of the session everyone would be on a high and that would be the best moment to get a group shot of the Surfability team. Luckily a couple of the surfers was still about which made it extra special.
Working with the DIY SOS TEAM
That evening I was on a high and couldn't wait to start editing the images and send them to DIY SOS as I had a feeling they would love them. And yes they did. I had so much positive feedback my head was massive.
Next thing, which I still can’t over, is how many images they chose to be printed and hung on the walls.
I was in shock, I still am! Gabi Blackman, the interior designer, requested 20 images. I couldn’t believe it and realised I was going to have an exhibition of my images in this new centre.
Thirteen years I’ve been a professional photographer and I’ve always dreamed of having my own exhibition.
This project is all about Surfability and the kids because without them I wouldn't have the pictures but I have to say that I’m proud of myself. It's a career highlight.
To have achieved this during covid-19 is a bit mind-blowing.
REveal Day Gallery
Next shoot was the reveal day, so off I went again down to Caswell Bay at the end of September and I was greeted by DIY SOS director Matt. He offered to show me around the centre.
Basically I had a guided tour with Matt, the director of DIY SOS, and Gabi Blakeman. Both of them complimented my work saying how much joy they’ve added to the build.
Gabi said "what's amazing about them is when kids come for their first surf session they will see these images and realise how much fun they are going to have and how they'll feel at the end of their session. "
She's summed up what I love about my job; to capture moments of joy and happiness.
It was amazing to play a small part in this whole project and I’m so proud of Surfability.
If you haven’t seen the episode click here to view it. So far the program has raised £844,044 for Children in Need.
If you want more info about Surfability Uk and donate you can do so via their website
I hope you enjoy the images as much as I did in capturing them.