Dungeness- a photo essay

By: Ruth Connolly

Dungeness. Sea, shingle, power station.

Driving along the winding road that sweeps through Dungeness (Britain’s only desert) fills me with nostalgic excitement. I make the journey along the Romney Marsh at least once a year, slowly approaching the silhouette of Dungeness’ nuclear power station perched on the horizon.

As a child, I was lucky enough to spend many weekends visiting my uncle in his railway carriage house built on the shingle, conveniently located opposite The Britannia pub and metres from the wild sea. It is these small dwellings that fascinate me most about Dungeness and draw me back year after year.

Dungeness is windy, wet and wild. Therefore, you can imagine my surprise when I pulled up in the station carpark to take the photographs for this essay and was met by perfectly blue skies with barely a gust of wind.

Within the last ten years, I have witnessed an increasing number of new pieces of architecture being built on the footprints of old dwellings and huts. The construction of these houses has drawn a new type of tourist to Dungeness. No more is it just day trippers arriving on the light railway who climb the old lighthouse before eating their fish and chips, but now too there is an Airbnb crowd hoping for a different type of wild than a weekend in London.

This photo essay explores the placement of ‘the new’ within Dungeness’ landscape; the new pieces of quite extraordinary architecture that are placed on the same shingle where the old railway carriages and fishing huts still stand.

The Dungeness landscape is changing and is more popular and ‘Instaworthy’ than ever. Although, still my sanctuary- it is one I must share now more than ever.

The abandoned radio hut was my personal favourite Dungeness dwelling. The old rusted fencing has provided me with an extensive amount of visual inspiration for past projects. Since my previous trip, the radio hut has been replaced by a new house. My initial instinct was to immensely dislike the building, but on closer inspection, I was pleasantly surprised that the brown corrugated structure complements the landscape- the use of the original footprint has allowed for an innovative architectural shape that slightly echoes and pays homage to the old construction.


All photographs are ©RuthConnolly2019

3 replies on “ Dungeness- a photo essay ”
  1. Urban exploration or Urbex is a thing. It is where you enter an abandoned building for the sake of (interest and) photography. It is a great social commentary on the state of our world. Abandoned buildings also show us how life used to be. It s time travel without a time machine. They make for great photo essay shoots as the amount of details is very high. Get permission and enter, but be careful as these buildings can be dangerous. Photograph the rooms and the details. This means you ll have to work with different lenses. You will get the hang of photographing rooms, looking at light, patterns, shapes and forms. You are also in no hurry, so you can practise to your heart s content. For more information about Urbexing, read our article here .

  2. The most natural method for choosing a topic or theme for your photo essay is to go with what you know. Photograph what you experience. Whether that includes people, objects, or the things you think about throughout the day, accessibility is key here. Common topics or concepts to start with are emotions (depicting sadness or happiness) or experiences (everyday life, city living). For photographer Sharon Pannen, planning a photo essay is as simple as “picking out a subject you find interesting or you want to make a statement about.”
    Interpult Studio

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