Sunset in Camber Sands

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Soft and smooth sand as far as the eye can see, unmistakable sand dunes and enticing wide beaches – this describes a famous location in East Sussex: Camber Sands. The beaches and dunes at Camber are a perfect place for a family day out with children, but also for dog walkers who love to travel with their four-legged friend and are attracted to South East England’s beauty spots. Camber Sands is also a place that no photographer must miss, because the natural dune system is such a great location for landscape, family and even lifestyle photography. The fact that it is a well-known filming location is evidenced by the number of filmmakers who have chosen this place to shoot their movies, such as Dunkirk.

The sand dunes at Camber are close to my heart and I have been returning to this place for several years. Camber Sands was my first holiday destination in England with my husband. It was our summer holiday before we got married and we didn’t have any kids, only our first black Labrador, Orion. We booked a wonderful house a few metres from the beach through the ‘Mulberry Cottages’ website. To this day, I will never forget how, as a Central European girl, I was enchanted by the English beach-style terraced house with a beautiful front garden, cozy seating with a fireplace, and a terrace full of pebbles, which was often visited by confident seagulls. Back then it was just us enjoying a carefree holiday and when we weren’t lounging on the dog-friendly beach we were exploring the surrounding countryside, sights and towns such as the romantic town of Rye and Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, Canterbury, and Bodiam Castle.

When we visited Camber Sands last month an incredible 10 years on from our first trip there, I almost couldn’t believe how much things have changed for our family! Not only do we now have two other faithful canine friends, but also an almost four-year-old son and one-year-old twins, Oliver and Victoria. Suddenly we are seven, and seeing everyone together in the same place always moves me and I feel quite emotional.

But I definitely don’t return to this place for sentimental reasons! Camber Sands is an adventurous and fun place as well as relaxing and enchanting. But the main attractions for me are the nature and the view, which has quite a cinematic character. It’s literally as if I got to another place and space; even the surrounding nature is different. It’s a place where time passes at an incredible speed and you try as much as possible to keep that moment in your memory, the ‘right here, right now’ moment, and that’s how photography enchants me – by the ability to freeze moments and memories.

This year we went to the main beach with all our kids and this time we arrived not from London via the M20, but on the A21 from our West Sussex house. Since I already knew where we were going and what we needed to prepare, we were well packed (be aware that even during warm spring days it can be chilly on the beach as it can be quite windy and exposed). This time I also grabbed my camera and had an idea that we could all take pictures there and do our own family photoshoot. Haha, of course our ‘group family photoshoot’ didn’t happen because one of the kids was asleep or not in the mood to take a photo… But at least I was able to do some lovely portraits!

Before the trip I used an app called ‘Sunseeker’ to find out exactly where the sunset at Camber Sands would be. (When we went to Goring-by-Sea the sun was setting behind the houses and opposite the beach, which was not very suitable for portrait photography.) We arrived at Camber just a few hours before sunset and parked our car in the main car park, which is right next to a food stall where our son Lucas immediately ran to get an ice cream. Then we all went to the beach where other families and couples were enjoying a day out and lots of children were building sandcastles. And because it was low tide, the beach seemed even more spacious; it literally disappeared beyond the horizon. Our one-year-old son Oliver was already running along the beach beside Lucas, while Victoria was concentrating on the texture of the sand.

Time passed so quickly, and the sun continued on its way so we set off to the sand dunes. This excited Lucas even more as he loves how the dunes form a system of smaller hills between the grasses and create natural paths. These paths down the hills look like sand slides, so Lucas began to slide down and that was hilarious fun! Then he was completely fascinated by the fine and golden soft sand. He scooped it up and threw sand over his head, while his cheerful and infectious laughter echoed all around. This was exactly the moment when I started to shoot photos of him and Victoria. Because the wind was getting stronger and Victoria seemed to be cold, I didn’t have as much time as I’d planned, nor was the sun waiting for us.

I quickly asked Jacob to take a picture of me with Ollie. The sun was slowly disappearing behind the horizon of the dunes, creating beautiful colours and a silhouette frame. As the sun disappeared behind the dunes we walked further up the hill and watched the continuing sunset. I could have watched and looked into the golden hour for a long time but the sun quickly disappeared, and we returned to our car. The babies were so tired and so was Lucas. They fell asleep soon after we set off. From the car we saw more beautiful scenery and colours in the sky after sunset – some call it the ‘blue hour’. As the sun set so quickly our day out was also over. It had been another beautiful day at Camber Sands…

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