Text by Emma Pressley
"I did not choose the beach, the beach chose me,” says Christian Chaize, who first discovered this spot near the town of Cercal do Alentejo, on Portugal’s Alentejo coast, in 2004 when he went to stay at his wife’s summer home. He and his family have come back every year since – and Chaize, who’s been a photographer for 25 years, shoots the same view overlooking the beach several times each visit. He calls it Praia Piquinia – a phonetic version of its local name.
The Lyon-based photographer’s collection forms the basis for book Time and Tide: Pictures from Praia Piquinia, which is out now. “I wanted to show the locals what was right there in front of them,” he says. “To offer them a different, more abstract way of looking at things.”
Inspired by Italian still-life painter Giorgio Morandi and Harvey Keitel’s character in the film Smoke, who has taken a photograph outside his shop every day for 14 years, Chaize wanted to show how the view changes almost imperceptibly. “The light is very special in Portugal and it changes subtly, as does the actual beach – there can be 2-3m of sand depending on the tides and the weather. And, of course, the sunbathers come and go.”
Even after the book’s publication, he plans to keep going to the beach, to shoot the portrait-shape views with his large-format camera – the series is as much about the people as the landscape to Chaize. “It’s an emotional place for me, a family place, so I cannot imagine stopping now. I have two small children and they often ask: ‘Dad, Dad, can we go and take photos of the beach now?’”
The Alentejo coast is two hours by car from Faro. Norwegian flies to Faro from Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and London Gatwick