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From mornings so calm that the ocean mirrors the sky to dramatic days when the sea puts on a real show, every dawn is unique.
And every day, our photographers are out on the beach, wrapped up well, waiting to catch the day’s first light. It’s usually just us, and the odd seal or early walker.
It’s a beautiful, magical time to be up and about. We do this to capture the start of each new day, because every day has significance for someone, and we believe the dawn light captures the essence of a new beginning, a celebration!
We have been the curators of every dawn since June 21st 2005.
Since midsummer’s day 2005, The Day That team have been photographing every new day dawning. However the story actually started a few years earlier with the birth of a little chap called Teddy.
This recent interview helps explain our story better…
Q: The Day That offers such a stunning, unique and timeless gift that’s especially appealing to newlyweds and new parents. How on earth did you start such a crazy idea?
A: The Day That concept was born on the same day as Teddy. Teddy’s first day was beautiful. One of those optimistic spring days when the sky is brilliantly blue and the light picks out everything to perfection. Feeling inspired by the concept and connection of that specific day, Gavan Goulder (TDT founder) presented a professional framed and personalised photograph to Teddy’s parents.
They loved it. Their family and friends saw the picture, and word started to spread. Initially called “My First Day”, the business officially launched on mid-summer’s Day in 2005. Gavan figured if he could handle getting up on the longest day of the year the other 364 days would be easy!
Q: And what happened next, how did you launch the brand?
A: That morning, ‘The Day That’ began taking photographs of the sunrise, and we have taken photographs in the Westcountry every day since then. That’s what we now curate – a unique library of days. We are the only photographers in the UK to do this, we have every sunrise and dramatic dawn going back to 2005 (with a couple of exceptions but we are only human).
The brand kind of took off, mainly relying on word of mouth from happy customers. A couple of major celebrities heard about us also and gave us a lot of love and that really helped too. Thanks must go out to Elton John & Emma Bunton! However since the very beginning customer delight has been at the heart of everything we do and always will be and this is testament to all the lovely words our customers say about us.
Q: When I look at the variety of dawn pictures you curate it’s an amazing library of images that are authentic, meaningful and shareworthy. How did you connect so emotionally with your customers?
A: The story of The Day That symbolises the very emotion the beginning of a new day evokes. Everyone can think of their special day – a point in time where their life changed. It sounds dramatic, but there are simple changes in life worth remembering – it’s a pause against a point in time – time to reflect and recall, remember, reminisce and rejoice!
Our beautiful photographs can be personalised to any occasion with a message of the customer’s choice. It adds that extra sentiment and memory of their special day and can help to illustrate the impact that day had on their life, or that of a loved one. We feel so privileged to share a tiny part of the precious moments that are being immortalised by our customers. Every day we get to help share the love and it makes us all feel very gooey inside! What we’ve learnt over the years is that every day is different. Every day brings its own unique beauty and cause for celebration.
Q: We all know people love a good sunrise but what happens on the gloomier days – you know the ones when normal people stay under the covers?
A: Ha! A good question indeed, we’ve certainly seen our fair share of rainy days! The simple answer is that we go out and do what we’re trained to do – capture the beauty of a new day dawning. The team are trained to adapt as the dawn unfolds – we take around 100 pictures each morning and never know if that threatening raincloud might unleash it’s contents or cover the horizon completely. We don’t know if the first picture may be the best. We don’t know if the skies will open up for a a brief few seconds and allow a flood of light to come through so we need to be on our toes! We shoot long-exposure photos to capture wave movement and reflections in the wet sand. We also know how to duck in a cave and let a rainshower pass!
The team are so talented and whatever they capture turns out to be an amazing printed gift for someone’s special day. There’s no sign of the sun on my children’s birthdays or our wedding day either, but they’re all special and treasured mementos of those special moments in time.
We have all been battered by the elements over the years, but come back to warm up with a cup of tea and agree that it’s still such a special time of day and we’re so privileged to be one of the few people witnessing and capturing the new dawn breaking.
Cornish mist and drizzle (or as we call it mizzle) can do-one though! It can be so challenging to shoot in these conditions when you have to wipe the lens every few seconds, but they still turn out to be lovely prints.
Q: I do recall you saying that the beach can get busy at times, I can’t imagine many people make it out for sunrise regularly?
A: We do notice that on the nice days especially autumn and spring when the sunrise time is late, colours are good and the forecast is favourable there are often a few people out on the beach doing the same thing for personal or professional reasons. It can get a bit busy or you find there’s someone else in your favourite spot, but you just roll with it and have a nice chat or offer advice to anyone who asks. People are often quite interested in what we’re doing. Sarah however prefers the beach to herself so will often carve out her territory and get to work. You don’t want to mess with Sarah at 5am!
Q: Why have you chosen West Cornwall specifically St Ives for most of your photos?
A: It’s the light! That’s what invariably strikes people who come to St Ives. The sand is golden the sea is pristine and aqua in colour. The special quality of light has drawn artists to this area since the beginning of the nineteenth century. The area is bathed in a soft, romantic glow that makes everything look perfect.
Also being based in Carbis Bay originally meant we didn’t have too far to go in the mornings when the alarm goes off at 03:30am! We do have access to some great East facing locations to capture those dramatic sunrises.
Q: What does a normal day look like for you? Do you go back to bed? What else do you get up to after a shoot?
A: Everyone on the team has their own routines. Some do go for a nap, others just plough on and try to finish early that day. I like to try and clear the decks early wherever possible but will usually have a wetsuit in the car and a board on the roof and if time allows then I’ll jump in the sea to properly wake up.
That said there’s plenty to be doing to get the images shortlisted and back to Kieran who usually does the edit. He then reduces them down into the best handful and checks thoroughly for any dust spots or photobombing seagulls, dogs or skinnydippers, which will likely get airbrushed out if they’ll ruin the image, but generally there’s minimal manipulation that needs doing to the images before they go up for sale. It’s more a case of culling the 100 pictures down to the best handful.
The rest of the day is spent processing orders and dealing with our lovely customers. We always love hearing from them, because they’ve often got a special story to tell and need a special gift.
Q: And finally you must have seen some funny things at dawn over the last 14 years?
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