I come across many photographers I admire and many photographs I really like. My current favourites are the dynamic, powerful images of water and surfers from one of the world's greatest surfing photographers (I didn't know it existed as a genre either!), Mickey Smith. Originally from west Cornwall, Mickey has made the south-west coast of Ireland his second home.
Here are some of my favourite of his photos. I really think he has captured the might and the beauty of the sea accurately.
Here are some snippets of information about him.
Michael Lee Smith grew up on the West coast of Cornwall.
Surrounded by sea and stone, ocean elements were ever present.
The outside whiled away the sunlight hours, and music filled the nights.
Surfing from dawn till dusk, and playing blues and country in bars from dusk till dawn became routine.
Life on the road was soon the only one he knew.
Friends and family called him myriad names, but one stuck, Mickey.
Mick left school at 16 with a bundle of cash stashed from gigging dark corners and headed for the light.
Burning and earning cash on the road to waves with weight and consequence became a way of life.
Cameras held his hand wherever he went, with rolls of super8 and Hi8 tapes in one pocket, and HP5 and Velvia in another.
He followed his heart and instincts, and through the twists and turns of fate, people took a shine to his photography and quirky films.
A way of life became a career of sorts, but after many years of travelling to work, the career of sorts had become the way of life, and it was time for a change.
One day Mickey decided to stay put on the West coast of Ireland, a place he had frequented and loved since the tender age of 14.
The nomads career no longer existed, but strangely enough, his work flourished.
Doing things for love alone over a living, helped creativity flow like never before.
For years he lived this way, and then tragically, his sister Cherry died.
She was his biggest fan, and had always wanted to hear the tale of why and how he did what he does.
So he began to make a film in her memory, for her two sons Kalle and Riley to remember her light, passion and inspiration through.
I saw many beautiful things during my week in Cornwall. I saw windswept moors, twisted trees, pounding seas and vertiginous cliffs, but of all the things which I revisit the most in my mind it is the 'hidden' church of St Merthiana which C showed me. I write hidden as it is ensconced just above a little river valley with wooded sides which guard it.
I don't know if it was the silence, the translucent green light from the trees, the romantic setting or the unexpected evening sunshine but it left an indelible impression on me.
The church is 13th century, with some 19th century restoration. The grounds are a controlled wildlife area and the unkemptness adds to the atmosphere.
If you ever happen to be in the west of England, St Merthiana's Church is worth seeking out. It's about a mile inland from the habour village of Boscastle and apparently it makes for a beautiful, if exhilerating walk.
I said to C that if I ever got married I'd like to get married here and we joked about where all the guests would park, if they even found the church. I wasn't joking about the marriage part though.
My tyres are pumped, oil checked. "Is it between the minimum and the maximum mark?", "yes, Dad". Numerous copies of the RAC's number have been planted in various places. My suitcase is packed. Umbrella, sunglasses, jumpers, suncream, thick boots, light trainers. This is the first time I've holidayed in Britain for many years and you can never be too prepared for all climatic eventualities. Do I miss a straightforward pack as for sunnier, reliable climes? Perhaps. But...here we have the crashing Atlantic, and castle ruins that sit on cliff topss, and wild beaches, and moorlands that transport you to a scene from The Lord of the Rings. We have Dartmoor ponies and tors, exquisitely gentrified country houses with English gardens in full summer bloom. And tricky, fluid Celtic words and pasties.
So yes, this summer I am eschewing the lure of the exotic and staying on my own island to go on a summer holiday in the West Country. I do not know if the lady who has kindly let me stay with her has wi-fi, but if it is possible I will be writing about my adventures in Cornwall here. Adieu!