Photographer 'breaks the internet' with his stunning sunrise pictures

Sunrise in December over south Norfolk 

Sunrise in December over south Norfolk - Credit: Graeme Taplin

As the sky lightened and a brightness crept along the horizon Graeme Taplin stood ready, poised to capture the first glimpse of the sun. 

Sometimes the dawn spread vibrant pinks and reds across the sky, other days the rising sun was a disc of shining light in a monochrome world, or shrouded in cloud. 

As it breached the horizon Graeme took pictures on beaches, from cliffs, in woodland and along rivers, creating 52 sunrise photographs, one for each week of the year. 

Summer solstice sunrise at Happisburgh

Summer solstice sunrise at Happisburgh - Credit: Graeme Taplin

September sunrise over Halvergate marshes 

September sunrise over Halvergate marshes - Credit: Graeme Taplin

Aldeburgh scallop shell sunrise

Aldeburgh scallop shell sunrise - Credit: Graeme Taplin

For a year he left his Norfolk home in the dark to arrive at his chosen location ahead of the sun – and returned with images of fiery skies and seas and of daybreak over beaches, piers, fields and forests. 

“I think sunrise is the best time of the day,” said Graeme, who runs a drone video and photography business. 

He set himself the sunrise project and took almost all the pictures in Norfolk and Suffolk – with Cromer, Southwold and Walberswick among his favourite locations. 

December sunrise at Walberswick

December sunrise at Walberswick - Credit: Graeme Taplin

Harvest September sunrise

Harvest September sunrise - Credit: Graeme Taplin

Most mornings he was on his own as he took his pictures, but occasionally he was joined by other members of the Norwich and District Photographic Society. Its specialist landscape photographers meet regularly for either a sunrise or sunset shoot. “Sunrise pictures get a little bit easier by September; by December it’s a nice civilised 8am,” said Graeme. 

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As well as pictures all along the Norfolk and Suffolk coast, Graeme photographed the sun rising across the Broads. Thurne and How Hill were favourite spots, as were Halvergate marshes and Thetford Forest. He took a camera and drone to each location but said fancy equipment was not essential and people can take beautiful sunrise pictures on their phones.  

“The saying is that the best camera is the one in your hand, so whatever you’ve got, use it,” he said.  

“And if anyone really wants get into landscape photography, go on some workshops. They’re invaluable, I’ve learned so much from them, from more experienced people.” 

His career in photography started when he worked as an estate agent and took pictures of the houses for sale. He grew up in Australia, moving to East Anglia after meeting his wife, who is from Norfolk. 

Graeme Taplin

Graeme Taplin - Credit: Graeme Taplin

“I worked in the property industry for 25 years, in Melbourne and here,” said Graeme, of Bunwell, near Wymondham. “I worked in estate agency for a firm of chartered surveyors. I used to do a lot of their property photographs, and then discovered landscape photography and that’s become a real passion.” In 2016 he launched his business, Drone Photography Ltd, taking aerial pictures and videos of properties and estates for sale, farms, big events, tourist attractions, golf courses and more.   

His year of sunrises was a personal project he could enjoy and hone his skills, and fit in before his working day. Now he has completed his 52 sunrises he has embarked upon a new photography challenge – taking pictures at Shingle Street on the Suffolk coast once a month. “It’s a very interesting and strange place, a shingle beach with lagoons which fill up at high tide and empty at low. The shingle shifts so the shapes of the lagoons and banks are always changing,” said Graeme.

Sunrise at Shingle Street

Sunrise at Shingle Street - Credit: Graeme Taplin

He had some tips for other people keen to try photographing sunsets – and most are about logistics rather than equipment or technical know-how. As well as the obvious need to check the weather forecast Graeme cautioned: "Plan well ahead. You might have to make multiple visits to a site because you rarely get everything coming together on one visit. 

“For a coastal sunrise there are certain beaches where you want the right tides. On some you don’t want to be there when the tide is coming in because it can be dangerous.

“And you need to remember that the sun comes up at different points on the horizon through the year so if you are trying to line up Southwold Pier with the sun at one time of the year you might be on the left side of the beach and at another, on the other side, just to get the angles right."

See Graeme's sunrises in the short video he made about the project.

Graeme’s earliest alarm call: 2.30am on the summer solstice, June 21, to arrive at Happisburgh in time for sunrise. 

Graeme’s coldest sunrise: minus six at Southwold in February 2021. “There was still snow on the beach from a couple of days before, but I got a really nice sunrise so it was worth it!” said Graeme. 

Graeme’s favourite sunrise location: Walberswick. I got very lucky at the end of March with a fantastic sunrise and then I went back on two other occasions. I always seem to get a good sunrise at Walberswick.