Y TRAETHAU (THE BEACHES)
By Billie Charity
Billie Charity is an award-winning portrait and reportage photographer based in Hay-on-Wye. Her work has been exhibited widely throughout Wales and has regularly featured in the press. 2020 saw the publication of two full length photobooks of Billie’s work, 'People of Hay' and 'Colour', both launched to widespread acclaim. Billie is also co-curator at the Thru the Lens photography gallery in Hay-on-Wye.
My photography centres on people. Whether in a formal setting or a candid ‘street’ style, capturing the individual characters I encounter is what drives my passion to take photos. However, during the first pandemic lockdown in March 2020, the streets emptied, we were confined to our homes, and my camera became temporarily dormant.
By the time the restrictions began to ease in July I was desperate to start shooting again, so with my family in tow and the sun shining, I headed to the coast and spent the summer capturing life on as many different Welsh beaches as possible.
We indulged in numerous short trips away, exploring the incredible Welsh coastline from north to south. Due to the foreign travel restrictions, it seemed that everyone else had the same idea so accommodation was often hard to come by, but we managed to find lodgings in guest houses, yurts, shepherd's huts and cheap hotels – whatever was available.
Social distancing rules still applied, face masks were advised, and restaurants (those that were open) were not allowing diners inside, but the this didn’t deter the masses or dampen their spirits. Some beaches were far busier than I had ever seen them before with many people flouting the two-metre distancing rules in their desperation to claim a patch of sand.
The appreciation, sense of relief and general exuberance of a trip to the beach was very different in 2020, but while things might have changed permanently in the wider world, the beaches themselves are the same as ever, which I find very reassuring.
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