A PHOTOGRAPHER from Newton Abbot was brought into focus after being named the South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year for 2022. Paul Boomsma’s photo of a herring gull near Exmouth was selected out of a tough competition of over 1,500 competitors.

The shot in question: Paul managed to get the photo  while he was in Exmouth
The shot in question: Paul managed to get the photo while he was in Exmouth (Photo by Paul Boomsma)

‘I originally got into photography about six years ago,’ explained Paul, ‘but it’s only over the last few years that I’ve started taking it more seriously and found my favourite subjects to work with.

‘I first bought a camera to photograph local songbirds, but then I started photographing pretty much anything I found interesting while trying to develop my skills.’

But it was a solo trip to Chamonix, France that sealed Paul’s love for the outdoors, wildlife, photography and everything in between.

‘That’s where I really started falling in love with photography – travelling, seeing new places, trying new things and trying to create photos along the way.

‘I tend to go through waves of inspiration and ideas within those genres, recently I’ve been spending a lot of time on the coast and at sea.’

That time by the sea certainly paid off, after Paul captured the stunning moment during a relatively mundane day.

‘I was on a boat in Exmouth taking photos of the coast, it was a really foggy morning with not much visibility.

‘As we were travelling through the fog I really liked the way the patterns in the water looked. On its own, it wasn’t really an interesting photograph.

‘I saw a group of seagulls approaching us so I quickly changed my lens, upped my shutter speed and took the photo as one of them was passing. After I had a look through the photos on the computer, I really liked the way it looked.’

As did the judges. Andy Cooper, Editor of Coast Magazine, commented on his choice: ‘It is never easy to catch birds on the wing but to do so in this manner – and with such a compelling mixture of colours and tones – made it a worthy winner.’

On winning the award, Paul said: ‘I was very surprised to have won the award. To have my work recognised and seen by other people is extremely rewarding as it’s something I’m so passionate about.’