Meet the Photographer Kayaking the Thames from Source to Sea
Annette Price has been an avid photographer since her university days and is a keen kayaker on the Thames. Earlier this year, Annette combined her passions by embarking on a very unique year-long project to kayak from the source of the Thames out to the sea. We spoke to Annette to find out more about her project and how she has found it so far.
Hi Annette, thanks for talking to us. So tell us a bit more about Source to Sea and your approach to it.
As its name implies I am going from source of the Thames to the sea, in a kayak, so I'm getting a very intimate look at the river. I began the project by photographing the source near Kemble in the Cotswolds, where the Thames is no more than a ditch and by December I will be photographing the wind farms and the Maunsell Sea Forts in the outer reaches of the Thames Estuary, where the river flows into the North Sea on the East coast.
I'm getting very close to it and the bridges and boats and wildlife that’s there. I get to show it from a different perspective that most won’t get to see, and to show people in London especially what it is like either side.
There are an awful lot of books on the Thames – most look at it from the side, or villages that happen to have the Thames going through it: my project is to show the river from the river, to show it in a way most won’t see even if they see it every day.
How long have you been photographing?
Forever, I trained as an illustrator at Kingston Poly, they had a great photography department. My interests changed when I was there and by the time I left I was a photographer. I did some work with Operation Raleigh (now Raleigh International) on the original round the world trip – went for 3 months to Guyana. Started writing articles, for magazines etc, stayed with that until water related took over.
How long have you been kayaking?
Since 1995. I started at Westminster Boating Base, a kids charity that teaches adults too. I woke up one morning and thought ‘I’m going to go kayaking’, looked in the yellow pages - there was no google then - jumped on the tube and I was hooked instantly. I started coaching, competing and became a qualified coach. That led to a love of water, and I also love to dive.
Why the Thames?
I suppose because I live in London and I know central London Thames very well – have been teaching/ paddling on it for years. I’ve seen it at day, at night, but I've never seen the beginning or end of it and didn’t know anyone else who did either, so thought I’d go and photograph it.
What has been your favourite location?
The one that is the most surprising is one mile from Lyd Well: the Thames is just starting, there’s a sort of well and water surging through it , and huge old trees, marshes, and weed plants growing in the water. There’s a town about a half mile away called Kemble and right by there is a bridge but it’s otherwise not very built up at all.
What's the logistical planning like on a project like this?
First, I have to research on Google where I’m going to park. I also have to research where I can access getting on and off the water. Then whenever I come off of the water, I need to find out where I can leave the boat and get back to my car. Sometimes I paddle to a train station and get the train back. Before I get there – I often phone up pubs and ask if I can leave my kayak in their garden and get the train back to my car. Sometimes I'll go with a friend and we set up two cars either end - there's a lot of planning!
What tips have you learnt that you can share with any budding nature/wildlife photographers?
You need to be able to protect your camera, I’m using underwater housing. Other ways include using a dry-bag which is fine if you are on still water but harder to manage if the river is tidal like in London.
Some trips I’ve done have been quite long. Last Tuesday I got up at 3.30am to set off from Barn Elms at 5.30am, I reached Tower Bridge at 9am and it then took me 3.30pm to get back to Barnes. So that was 10 hours in my boat, it was just too long! I take a lot of food with me for the journey, and for after, which is very important!
Also, be very quiet, and you will start to see wildlife, especially if you get there very early.
> Annette continues her journey on her kayak finishing at the Thames Estuary in the New Year. Check out more of her amazing photography from the project here.