A Line Between the Tides
08 August 2017
Matt Button (good friend of us here at DR) has recently launched his A Line Between the Tides project on Kickstarter. It's a photographic book, celebrating his 250 mile unsupported SUP journey around the Cornish coast that he undertook in the summer of 2016. It was a pretty tough journey by anyone's standards and he faced some truly dreadful Cornish weather, the Atlantic ocean didn't hold back in what it threw at him.
I caught up with Matt for a chat about his beautiful photographic project and to find out a little more about the epic paddle. ~ Sal
You can visit his Kickstarter page here: A Line Between the Tides
What was the inspiration for this trip?
Like so many people in this county, every year I say I'm going to do the coastal footpath. We've all done sections but very few of us have done any sizeable chunks.
At the same time, I've always been drawn to the hidden coves and beaches that involve clambering down cliffs to get to. In the summer this is the only option for solitude.
Then on a work day in Marazion, I saw a SUP for the first time and the penny dropped. I could use one to get to ALL the secret coves and spots along the Cornish coast. I went back the next day and tried it with Lawrence Smith at Ocean High and deemed two hours experience adequate for a month long, unsupported, 250 mile ocean paddle and wild camping expedition... simple.
I love this photo that you took as you left Plymouth. How were you feeling then?
Tired, very tired. I hadn't slept all night. My brother had said to me he had never seen me looking so nervous. I was really scared but I was trying not to look unprepared and as chaotic as I felt, I didn't want to scare him any more than I was apparently doing already. The unknown was so huge I could only focus on each day at a time. At least the first few hours were on a river, bearing in mind that the first hour on the water was only the fifth hour I'd spent on a paddle board. The colours were amazing that morning, but I just wanted to get going... I had no idea what was ahead of me.
You had originally planned to make a film of the trip, what happened to this idea?
The plan was to film, yeah. I had a little more experience with cameras then SUPs but not much in the way of film making. I couldn't have known just how tiring the paddling alone would be, as each evening I was exhausted and finding the energy to do much more than a quick video diary was a real challenge.
The conditions didn't help. One mount was ripped clean off the board and I lost a Go Pro after hitting a submerged boulder.
The whole unsupported thing and trying to film with very little experience along with the terrible weather made for a series of very grumpy video diaries ha ha!
So is this book project in place of the film?
Yeah, the book is something I feel much more comfortable doing.
Any reason for choosing to use medium format and film?
I know it's all a bit hipster now, but I started in film and still feel that there is a difference between digital and film especially when printed out. Instagram is great, I love it but a solid hand printed image in a frame on a wall or in a beautiful book really shows photography at its best, quality over quantity. We live in an age when everyone is a 'photographer' but the result is, as Grayson Perry puts it 'photography rains on us like sewage from above'. Using the best tools to produce the best possible work that I can is important to me and medium format is perfect. Plus I love using it, it slows you down and ultimately you end up taking more careful and considered images.
Knowing what you now know after this paddle, would you ever have set off in the first place, knowing how challenging it was going to be?
Would I recommend someone do a few SUP lessons with qualified staff, get their family or friends together and go and explore the coast (safely) yes most definitely? Would I recommend setting out on 200 plus miles of paddling with no real experience, fitness or clue? Most certainly not! Nope! Never!
Any final words of wisdom?
Be safe. Ask advice and TAKE it. It's a beautiful world out there and the coast gives us so much pleasure so only leave footprints. Do a little beach clean if it's needed and give a little time or money back -to the kids learning, the conservationist trying to keep it beautiful and the RNLI for keeping it safe.
You can visit Matt's Kickstarter page here: A Line Between the Tides