By Katy Cowan
If you’re thinking about getting ‘beach ready’ – whatever that means – and looking forward to a summer holiday, then consider this charming series by French photographer Arnaud Brossard that explores beach culture in Estonia where summers are short and winters are far too long.
Two summers ago, Arnaud spent a fortnight in Tallinn, Estonia in a suburb not far from the sea. In order to get to the town centre, he had to ride his bicycle along the seafront every day, and it was then that he discovered a beach called Stroomi Rand. It’s a beach that you’re unlikely to find on any postcard, but it proves to be very popular with the working locals, who are grabbing every spare moment they can to sunbathe and develop a tan.
Arnaud believes it’s a fascinating beach, surrounded by working class communities that give a nod to Estonia’s communist past; an industrial port with abandoned warehouses to the east and richer suburbs and wealthy gated properties on the western side that show a more prosperous country today. He said: “Here in Stroomi, there is a kind of Russian flavour in the air: everyone is speaking Russian and eating Russian food, and even sunbathing in the Russian style. Time almost stops and the atmosphere sometimes feels unreal but often anachronistic. Those who want a ‘trendy’ beach go elsewhere. The fall of the Berlin wall happened a long time ago, the Russian relics represent the past and most of the young ‘in fashion’ Estonians steer clear of Stroomi.”
As you consider each photograph, with every subject snatching as much sunshine as physically possible, you begin to understand why Estonians make the most of their local beach. It might be the only chance they get to add some colour and enjoy some essential vitamin D.