Dave Zdanowicz thought he knew the Yorkshire coast. Or at least a good chunk of it. He had after all spent his childhood holidays on the beaches of Scarborough, Bridlington and Filey, but when he began turning his lens on the coastline which runs from Spurn Point in the south to Saltburn in the north, the Bradford-based photographer realised there was still much to discover.
“It’s been fascinating,” he says. “People say that what’s great about Yorkshire is how varied the landscape is and it’s true. Even on a short stretch of coastline there are so many different things to look at and photograph. There’s the dramatic cliffs at somewhere like Flamborough, the Victorian grandeur of a seaside resort like Scarborough and by the time you get to Saltburn you can look in one direction and see only sea and in the other the industrial centre of Middlesbrough looms large on the horizon.
“As soon as I decided that I really wanted to explore the coast I realised just how little I knew. Despite growing up and living in Bradford I had never been to Robin Hood’s Bay. When I walked down the steep hill it was like discovering the perfect fishing village and now you can’t keep me away from the place.”
As with his first collection, which came out last year, Dave wanted to capture Yorkshire’s coast at different times of the day and throughout the seasons, which inevitably meant some early starts and chilly hours waiting for the perfect shot.
“There is something really beautiful about the early morning light and so yes, I had to do a lot of driving through the night to ensure I was in places like Runswick Bay in time for sunrise. I love that time of day though, because more often than not you are completely on your own, it feels like you are the only person in the world.”
Dave’s next book, which will be published later this year, will also include a selection of inland images and will mark the next step in his ambition to become a full-time landscape photographer. It’s not bad going given he picked up a camera only four years ago.
“One of my colleagues was selling a camera and he reckoned I would have a good eye for photography,” says Dave, whose day job is working as a school technician in a performing arts department. “He saw something in me that I honestly wasn’t aware was there, but he was pretty persuasive and in the end I bought the camera.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done and now whenever I am not working I am out taking pictures. Making a full-time living as a landscape photographer is not easy, but I have found the thing that I love and if the next four years go as well as the last four, then who knows?”
He has already amassed an impressive portfolio of images and having secured a publishing deal the question was what to leave out rather than what to keep in. “That’s the difficult bit,” he says. “While I do edit my work as I go along, because I’m out photographing so much what starts as a couple of dozen images soon turns into hundreds. However, eventually we did settle on a final selection and it’s one which I hope shows the county in a new light and maybe introduces people to some corners of Yorkshire that they had previously overlooked or didn’t know existed.”
As well as being a voyage of discovery, Dave’s new-found love of photography has also brought him closer to his father.
“Dad rarely goes anywhere without his camera and now we have a shared hobby, which is great. One of the really memorable shoots this year was going out to Malham to photograph the Milky Way. Night sky photography is a whole new challenge, but it’s something that I am definitely interested in exploring.
“It requires an awful lot of patience and a steady hand, but the results can be stunning and if I have learnt anything in the last four years it’s that you can’t rush a good image. While most places in Britain suffer from bad light pollution, parts of North Yorkshire are really wonderful for showcasing the wonders of the night sky, so now as well as some very early mornings I reckon the next 12 months will feature some very late nights.
“Top of my wish list now is to photograph the Northern Lights. I’ve got the equipment, I’ve got the enthusiasm, all I need now is a bit of luck.”
To find out more about Dave’s work go to: davezphotography.co.uk