We shall fight on the beach . . so mind your sandcastle!

Mike Byrne and Kevin Thornton

Mike Byrne and Kevin Thornton

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A NICE quiet stroll along the beach is, for many, the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

But those expecting some peaceful relaxation on Yellowcraig Beach, North Berwick, this afternoon will be in for a bit of a shock – in the form of a military invasion complete with flares and severed limbs.

Around a dozen camouflage-clad soldiers – dressed in full US military gear – will descend on the popular tourist spot, firing weapons and embarking in combat.

The spectacle is all part of an elaborate photoshoot designed by photographer Mike Byrne, a recent graduate from Edinburgh Napier University.

Mr Byrne is one of five Scottish photographers to gain a place on the Young Photographers’ Alliance Mentoring Program 2011, which requires him to produce a project good enough to be exhibited in New York and London.

Given the brief of “energy”, Mr Byrne decided to use a concept he had been planning for some time – infusing a military invasion with a traditional beach scene complete with sunbathers and children building sandcastles.

The 28-year-old said: “I believe that it is widely considered that recent military actions in Iraq have served not only to remove a dangerous dictatorship, but also to secure oil supplies.

“That fight for secure energy has been very controversial and is the basic premise that my shoot will deal with.

“While my military crew are invading the beach, I will have four Scottish models on the beach sunbathing and enjoying an ice-cream.

“The end results will hopefully contrast with the fight that some have faced in order to preserve the lifestyles of others.”

One of the most striking images Mr Byrne hopes to capture will be a four-year-old model accidentally digging up a large unexploded bomb – made by scenic artist Kevin Thornton – while building a sandcastle.

Mr Byrne has enlisted the help of local organisation Land Warrior Airsoft Skirmishing for the shoot.

It will be acting out the fighting scenes, equipped with replica guns, military uniforms and severed limbs created by special effects make-up artist Jess Gaskell.

Mr Byrne has notified the coastguard and police that the photoshoot is taking place to avoid armed response units being sent out.

He said: “It’s going to be treated like a film and I’m going to be directing the whole thing. We have to get everything perfect.

“The beach will be open to the public and having seen the guys in their military uniforms, I’m wondering if the police will get a lot of phone calls saying there’s been an invasion.”

gfraser@edinburghnews.com