Breakfasting With Beverley On The Scarborough Sunrise
Andrew Liddle joins a popular local photographer for an early morning shoot
“I’m addicted to sunrises,” beams Beverley Senturk, as I meet her on the prom, just as the first rosy glow rims the horizon. “I’m out here with my camera at this time most days while other people are sleeping soundly.”
In the magical moments as dawn rises, deer, foxes and other wild creatures roam in various parts of Scarborough. She’s not saying where, being keen to keep their haunts protected.
This time of day is when so many, though not all, of her much admired photographs are captured.
“These pinks and reds are just so beautiful, it would be a shame not to catch them,” she says, taking a shot of the harbour that might well appear on Calendar or Look North tonight. The skies are reddening as we speak. “In a minute the crimsons and golds will start to appear.”
She carries on with her work, the heavens momentarily mottled with tangerines and lemons, the sea a perfect cyan, neither green nor blue. This is no time to waste. Then, as predicted, the sun emerges as a fire-spilling orb, a feast for the eye and gold for the earlybird photographer.
Undoubtedly, the wonderful appeal of her pictures is they have a freshness that can sometimes elude the professional weighed down with gadgets and schedules, paid to do a shoot on a certain date, regardless of the conditions. “Fortunately, I’m here nearly every day,” she says, “ready for fleeting moments like this when everything’s perfect.”
We walk on to where she took a breathtakingly beautiful picture of the harbour, the golden sky suffused with salmon shades, the eye naturally drawn to the Seafast Don from Inverness, a blood-red working boat resting at anchor. It might have been set down there, precisely positioned to be part of the Castle Hill skyline which tapers down to where equal amounts of sea and sky meet and mirror each other, and leisure craft cluster. The single gull on the wing has a purpose. He brings life to an otherwise motionless scene.
It’s an exquisite scene, perfectly shot - as is another of the harbour taken from a very similar place in a picture no less stunning, though with a different mood. Again we note the compositional balance, the sky red hot like molten lava burning on the water between boats near and in the middle distance.
Blink and you would have missed the sea washing over the North Bay promenade in a study of apricots and cerulean blues, the spume careful to stick to its half of the portrait and not obscure the iconic long view of the Castle ruin.
One of her most frequently photographed subjects the year round is Freddie Gilroy sitting alone, oblivious to the glorious sunrise or the spray washing over him, so deep in thought must he be of the horrors of Belsen, the concentration camp he helped to liberate in 1945. Ray Lonsdale’s sculpture has been captured innumerable times by so many admirers since first arriving in 2011 but never with more emotional awareness.
She does not neglect other moods and seasons, however, and her winter-white views of Scarborough Mere, like the one featuring a bevy of swans on the frozen banks, for example, have many admirers. A speciality is crystal-clear close-ups of rarely seen seabirds, puffins, gannets, razorbills, waxwings and Kingfishers, to name but a few,
Pictures such as these, scores of them, draw you in, have a fascination all their own which stems as much from the way they have been taken as to the photogenic qualities of the scene itself. “No two photographers will ever take identical images,” she says, forthrightly. “Each will compose the picture differently.” Her Canon R6 Mirrorless camera is always set to manual. “It means I have to adjust it for every shot but it’s more personal and I’m in control of the camera not the other way round.”
A Scarborough lass, through and through, she works as a receptionist in Scarborough Hospital which is adjacent to Graham School where she was educated. In 2021 the NHS Trust were so impressed with the uplifting nature of her scenes, they commissioned an exhibition to brighten the main corridor. “Patients and visitors said it lifted their mood,” she says, “and I hope to do more exhibitions like this if my pictures have that effect.”
She has a dedicated tv audience who send her screenshots of her work they’ve been blown away with on both the BBC and ITV local news programmes. “Being selected on such a regular basis, bearing in mind the strength of competition, is very flattering,” she admits, “but I’m generally at work so I seldom get to see them myself.”
Thor the walrus
When Thor, the Walrus recently paid Scarborough a much publicised visit she photographed him with great sensitivity. “I used a long lens so as not to disturb him.” She was happy to see him protected by the marine wildlife organisation who were tracking his journey northwards. The result was a series of priceless studies that not only revealed his prettily pink undertones but also - to the very life - captured his playful spirit.
Undoubtedly the best way to fully appreciate her work is to see it at close hand. It’s sold locally and at craft fairs where her stall, Photography by Beverley, attracts quite a crowd, many from her large Facebook following. On sale are mounted prints and canvases in various sizes, handmade cards, glass coasters, framed Heart of Scarborough collages and other photography-based items. All in all it’s a treasure trove, not just of panoramic landscapes and wildlife studies but of glorious celebrations of special local events, firework displays and the like – all unmistakably reflecting her eye for composition, balance and her natural flair.
Does she ever dream of one day becoming a professional? “Yes,” she says, at last, “but I would want to stay local and only take images of what appeals to me – photographed in my way, unaided by technology!”
The sky is far more variegated and confused than it was when our conversation began. There might even be a hint of rain. It’s time for her to pack away her camera and go home to get ready for work. She’s got a busy day ahead in the hospital.
This beautiful sunrise will live on captured by her lens for the admiration of those who slept through it.
Beverley Senturk's Facebook page can be found here