Kerrie Ann Gardner | Durdle Door
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Durdle Door

A few years ago, I saw a photograph.

It was a good photograph. In fact, if you Google: ‘Durdle Door Sunrise’ chances are you’ll probably see it too. It was taken by a chap called Peter Spencer. In it, a ray of sun is shining through the archway of Durdle Door. Due to the position of the sun, this only happens a few mornings a year, right around the Winter Solstice.

Having liked that photograph for a while, this morning I decided I’d try my luck at replicating it, or at the very least, possibly capturing a pretty sunrise behind one of Dorset’s iconic landmarks.

Big mistake. And I’ll tell you why.

Other photographers had the same idea, and not one or two people, but a good eleven to twelve. As I approached Durdle Door, I saw little points of light, placed along the cliffs like a regiment of highly coordinated, perfectly spaced Glow-worms.

I suddenly felt the full weight of the fraud I was for going there in the first place, with the intention of copying someone else’s image. Shame on me. Shame on me too for laughing internally when, after I slipped and slid my way down the cliffs to find a quiet spot on the beach out of view from the other photographers, the two men who followed me were swamped and soaked by a rogue wave.

So there we all were. All of us temporarily obsessed with the possibility of a big beam of light penetrating a giant, moist archway.

Definitely shame on me.

There’s a moral here. Imitation might be a form of flattery, but it doesn’t make you feel all that good. And although Durdle Door is an iconic landmark, it isn’t all that original anymore. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it’s one of the South Coast’s most photographed places.

Stephen Banks caught a beautiful image of the Milky Way above it. Peter Spencer got the sunrise shot, and countless others have got pictures of the arch at sunset, many of them very beautiful.

But I think I’ll be avoiding that spot for a while. It has bugged the hell out of me that I was just another Glow-worm this morning, when there are thousands of other interesting places to explore.

Incidentally, I did take one photograph, but not of Durdle Door. I focused instead on Man of War Bay, on the other side of the cliffs. On a bright, still Summer’s day, it’s a beautiful place to swim. The colours beneath the water are as vivid as the view down a kaleidoscope, and as far as I know, nobody’s photographed that sub-aquatic world yet.

Kerrie Ann Gardner
  • Robin

    Hi Kerrie, very interesting comments from you. Photography is about sharing and exchanging viiews. There is also the unexpected that can happen at any time. Photographers also get inspiration from fellow photographers, Certainly “no shame on you” for trying to recreate a classic photograph. So much can be learnt from such an exercise that can then be applied in other situations. So good on you for giving it go. Robin

    January 2, 2015 at 9:41 pm
    • Hello Robin,

      Thanks for the comment. I guess at the end of the day, no matter if there are 100 photographers all photographing the same scene, they’ll all end up with different photos, as each one will most likely see a slightly different viewpoint. And if not on location, the way they edit their shots will make them different too. However, I really was amazed at how many people were down at Durdle Door this morning after that famous sunrise-through-the-archway image. Lovely to see so many folk up bright and early for a natural event, but I couldn’t help but feel a little unoriginal and like I was just another photographer getting in other photographer’s ways!

      January 2, 2015 at 10:10 pm
  • David Ward

    There are certain locations ie Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Old Harry, Gold Hill, Corfe Castle etc .. that suffer from too much exposure (apologies for the pun). It would certainly be more interesting if photographers were to discover hitherto ‘unknown’ locations, and there are plenty, in abundance throughout beautiful Dorset!

    January 7, 2015 at 8:40 pm
  • You have summed up my feelings completely and that is precisely why I dont go to the Door. I find other places where nobody seems to go, and lo and behold a few weeks ot months later, a few other photographers are posting their pictures from where I have been, most of the time not the same conditions as when I went so their images tend to be not as good as mine. Not that I am any better than anyone else, it just happens that way occasionally. good stuff Kerrie by thw ay.

    August 21, 2015 at 5:33 pm

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