happisburgh park family documentary photography

Happisburgh Park Adventures

Another sunny bank holiday weekend saw us taking a friend with us to my favourite village; Happisburgh.
I needed an excuse to play with my new camera and lens, and so it was the perfect opportunity for an impromptu family documentary photography session of my own!


My Special Place

Having grown up spending most of every summer holiday on this little stretch of the Norfolk coast it holds special memories for me, and I love bringing my own family here whenever I can.

Back home in Norwich we were sweltering, and the kids wanted nothing more than to head to the beach for an ice cream. As we had our friend staying for the weekend I used the excuse of them being able to take one car to grab the chance to take my motorbike on one of my favourite rides out through Colitshall in the sunshine.
There were 2 small down sides to this  1) the bug that made a bee-line (get it?! 😉 *groan*) for my face, striking my top lip like I’d been shot with a stone, and 2) the fact that as I left North Walsham I could feel the temperature was dropping considerably the closer to the beach we got!

Not put off by the bracing onshore wind we ventured off to explore the new beach access ramp carved into the cliff just a couple of days earlier. Happisburgh is sadly infamous for it’s coastal erosion, and in my lifetime I’ve seen it change beyond recognition as so many play areas of my own childhood have been washed out to sea. The ramp was just hours old and already sporting war wounds from battles with the tide. I hope it lasts longer than the previous ramps!

Our time on the beach was very brief, cut short by the inevitable announcement that my eldest needed a wee shortly after we arrived. So we retreated from the windy sea spray to the slightly warmer playground on the cliff top where us big kids and little kids alike enjoyed letting off some steam!

happisburgh park norfolk family documentary photography


I have a treasured photo of the boys playing on these swings as toddlers from a few years ago, and watching them play on them again it really struck me just how much they’ve grown. I still see them as my babies, and yet here they are growing into amazing young boys.

happisburgh park family documentary photography

happisburgh park family documentary photography


The local school kids designed the playground, which being by the sea has a pirate ship theme. Thanks to lots of local fundraising ‘HMS Happisburgh’ was born, and Captain Reuben certainly enjoys his fair share of swashbuckling adventures aboard!

Finn persevered with learning to swing himself, and had cracked it by the time we left, swinging high and shrieking as he went! Nothing beats a good old push though, especially on the giant net swing!

happisburgh park family documentary photography

happisburgh park family documentary photography

happisburgh park family documentary photography

happisburgh park family documentary photography


Soon our adventures were over and it was time to head home, with Reuben putting his self-chosen crocs-and-socks combo to good use on the walk back to our caravan.  A stop at the lovely Burgers On The Beach cafe for an ice cream finished off the afternoon perfectly.


happisburgh park family photography


In our best Top Gear challenge style, we decided to split up on the way home. Alan and the boys took the faster main road route back through Wroxham and onto the new NDR, where as I split off from them to go for a leisurely cross country ride through the lanes. I honestly thought they’d be back long before me but to my surprise they got caught in traffic, and I saw them coming up the slip road behind me at the roundabout where our routes merged! There was lots of celebration on my part as they pulled up behind me at the next set of lights just one junction from home.

And to top it all off, we pulled into the driveway just as the clouds rolled in, and we managed to get our washing off the line with seconds to spare before a sudden rain shower! I think I must be getting old if I find that to be a high point haha.

The afternoon really drove home how much I love documentary photography sessions such as this. No posing, no directing. Just letting kids be kids and playing along with them; guaranteed smiles and fun!

I can’t wait for a summer of sessions like this so if you’d like me to join you on one of your own adventures please do drop me a line!

Thanks for reading,


PS. For the photographers who may be reading, this was the first full session I’ve edited with my new Sony A7iii and Samyang 35mm 1.4, and I love the combo! So much faster and sharper than my previous Nikon DSLR. Images are beautifully crisp and the silent shutter meant I never distracted the boys from their play. The A7iii feels much more portable than my old D610/750, and it was no trouble to bring the Sony along when I’d usually leave my Nikon rig at home on a family day when I’m also on Mum duty too – I’m definitely a Sony convert! More on my switch from Nikon coming to the blog soon!

Click on any of the images below to see more from the afternoon: