Benidorm’s Golden Years: Jack Kenyon captures the resort’s overlooked greying couples

Photographer Jack Kenyon has documented Benidorm’s older couples in a new series of images that find a fresh angle on the resort, which is more widely known for its stag and hen parties.

When you think of Benidorm, what comes to mind? Golden beaches? Scorching heat? Gaggles of stag and hen parties staggering from bar to bar? If so, you’re not wrong. But in reality, there are hidden charms to the Spanish seaside resort, which Jack Kenyon has documented with his trademark flair in his latest series titled Benidorm’s Golden Years.

Fresh from his travels in India, where he missed a camel fair, Jack has jetted off once again. This time, he was off to Benidorm because he loves taking pictures of beaches. “There’s usually hard light, vibrant colours and subtle humour, all of which are the cornerstones of my work,” he tells Creative Boom.

“Benidorm has these elements, plus a dystopian backdrop of high-rise buildings that run along the beach. I’ve always wanted to try shooting there, so I booked a week in March with no strong concept of how the work might turn out.”

Originally, Jack had no plan to focus on the area’s older residents. But it was not long until he was drawn to them after spotting them doing mobility exercises on the beach. “I could have focused on the hungover adolescents cooking in the midday sun, but the gentleness of the greying couples was more appealing.”

Outside of its senior couples, Jack was also surprised by the number of Spanish people who visit Benidorm. “Each morning I went to a coffee shop which was popular with these Spanish visitors, where they quietly enjoyed their cappuccinos, whilst outside, sun-burnt stags would be trying to fight a lamp post as they stumbled home from all-nighters,” he explains.

“Undoubtedly, there are tensions between these groups, but whilst I was there, they seemed to co-exist peacefully.”

When reflecting on why Benidorm has become home to so many retired British people, Jack explains that their memories of holidaying at the resort must play a significant role. Also, the amazing weather, relatively affordable property, expat community, and strong variety of English fry-ups on offer probably sweeten the deal.

This doesn’t mean Benidorm is any less attractive to young people who will soon be tying the knot. In fact, Jack saw plenty of Stags and Hens having a great time. “The city is a perfect playground for these groups to go wild, and that doesn’t seem to be changing in Benidorm, while other beach towns seem keen to deter them,” he reveals.

Benidorm’s unique scenery further enhances its appeal in terms of photography. “There are a few elements that I find surreal,” adds Jack. They include the bizarrely tall individual palm trees that dot the beach, the bleak backdrop of high-rise buildings, and the sheer number of older people walking the promenade.

All of these elements combine in Jack’s photographs to create a sense of a place that is larger than life. However, in this series, Jack does not rely on photographs alone. He also experimented with short video shots on his phone to better understand Benidorm and its people.

“Making short videos with my phone was fun and really helpful for my photography on this project,” he says. “I found it much easier to capture things with my phone than a big camera, especially at a beach where it can often feel slightly inappropriate.

“I also felt less internal pressure with the videos because they’re never going to be in my ‘professional photographer portfolio’, so I could be more experimental. All this helped free me up to just wander around and take pictures.”

Jack’s work is centred on gentle humour, and he found that motion captures this better than still photography. “I’m still figuring this out, but an example from this project would be my attempt at documenting healthy adults using mobility scooters as a mode of transport, buzzing along the beachfront instead of walking or using a bicycle,” he concludes.

“I got one good picture that captures part of this phenomenon, whilst I made countless videos that capture a lot more. It sounds obvious, but certain things translate much better when using motion. It’s fun exploring what those things are.”

See the full series of images in the Benidorm’s Golden Years series on Jack’s website.

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