Auri at Bude breakwater. Troy Donockley, Johanna Kurkela and Tumas Holopainen.

Auri at Bude breakwater. Troy Donockley, Johanna Kurkela and Tuomas Holopainen. Photos: Tim Martindale

It was twelve months ago, almost to the day, that we welcomed some VIP guests to the Beach Haven. Two members of the predominantly Finnish rock group ‘Nightwish’ and their wives had flown in to north Cornwall from Helsinki and Yorkshire for some promotional photos of their new band ‘Auri’. Their eponymous debut album is launched today.

You might not have heard of Nightwish but to put their popularity into perspective, while Take That have 1.8 million fans on Facebook, Nightwish have 4.3 million! One of their videos on YouTube has reached almost 100 million views!

Tuomas Holopainen and Troy Donockley from the band, along with Tuomas’ wife, Johanna Kurkela, had formed Auri a few months earlier and had recorded just the one song, ‘Aphrodite Rising’, before deciding to have all the promotional photography done in advance. They had previously seen my landscape photos of Cornwall and also some of the portrait photos I took for the Bude Legends exhibition a couple of years ago and they flatteringly thought that I was the right man for the job!

We spent three days in various locations on the coast from Tintagel up to Sandymouth. I had hoped for some challenging, dramatic, weather and big seas but they were blessed with wall-to-wall sunshine, which made for a great sightseeing for them but wasn’t quite ideal for the moody scenes I’d intended!

We started the scenic tour of north Cornwall at Tintagel. The Arthurian Legend spreads worldwide and the Fins were eager to see the iconic locations for themselves so we visited a number of viewpoints, including Camelot Castle Hotel and St Materiana Churchyard. From there we headed to Rocky Valley and walked down the beautiful stream-side path, using the abandoned buildings at Trevillett Mill as a backdrop before carrying on to the coast for some more shots at the base of the valley and on top of the cliffs. I had intended to do some shots in Boscastle but the sunny weather had brought everyone out and it was far too busy. The next location on the list was Millook with its incredible folded rock formations before we headed back to Bude for some shots along the breakwater and Barrel Rock. The following day was just as bright and sunny and we headed onto the beach at Sandymouth with the intention of making our way onto the jagged, other-wordly rocks at Warren Beach. Unfortunately, the seaweed-clad rocks were a little too precarious for rock-star footwear and we had to abandon that idea. There are many other little spots along the beach with captivating geology though so we used those instead. The harsh sunshine certainly wasn’t ideal lighting for individual portraits and we headed back to the Beach Haven where they were shot in the back garden, under the shade of the willow tree!

It has been lovely to see the fruits of those photographs appear, firstly in the packaging artwork – and I’m delighted to say that the album is also being released on vinyl, which means a return to the good old days of 12″ gatefold artwork – and then also in some of the promotional videos. They should certainly introduce the north Cornwall coast to a new international audience!

It was a privilege and a delight to host these lovely people and I am truly humbled that they trusted me sufficiently to fly from Finland to Cornwall specifically for their photos – and that they chose to stay at the Beach Haven to boot!! We wish them huge success with Auri and hope we can welcome them back in the future. 🙂 Until then we’re eagerly awaiting our copy of the album to arrive on the doorstep!

Tuomas, Johanna, myself and Troy at the Beach Haven on completion of the promotional photography.


After dinner at home with Tuomas, Johanna, Finlay (and his toy), our son Jack, Maria, Troy’s wife Terri, and Troy.


If you’d like to follow in Auri’s footsteps and stay at the Beach Haven, check our availability here.