On the Day – Mission 7 – static content


The Lifeboat Station Project — a huge, unprecedented photographic portrayal of the RNLI — is about to start its second year.

If possible, I’d like to visit your station soon on Mission No.7.

On this page, you’ll find everything you need to know including:

  • 20% RNLI PRINT DISCOUNT (including how to pre-order prints from your station)

The Lifeboat Station Project by Jack Lowe
Behind-the-Scenes: Making the Ilfracombe crew photograph…
The Lifeboat Station Project by Jack Lowe
Ilfracombe RNLI Crew, 25th June 2015, 12×10 inch Ambrotype

Galleries: View the photographs made so far

Ultimately, there will be an exhibition once I’ve made all the photographs. In the meantime, I’m releasing edition prints of the work, the sales of which help to fund the Project and keep it on the road.

As a thank you for the help I receive, I donate two prints to each station that I visit:

  • Print No.1 of the crew photograph
  • Print No.1 of the Coxswain / Senior Helm portrait

In addition, I offer a 20% print discount to RNLI personnel (see below).

There will also be a book in due course, which will be accessibly priced for those that can’t quite stretch to a limited edition print.

ITV London News broadcast a piece about the Project in May, which will give you an overview of what’s involved:



As you may have gleaned from the 2015 Ops Circular, I shall be visiting every Lifeboat Station in the UK and Republic of Ireland over the next few years.

On this particular journey, I’d like to visit the stations on your stretch of coastline — your station is in the run of seven stations that I would like to photograph next.

Ideally, I would like to visit seven stations on the following proposed dates:

  • CLOVELLY: Friday 8th January 2016 (filming with BBC Countryfile)
  • SELSEY: Monday 11th January 2016 (Confirmed)
  • HAYLING ISLAND: Tuesday 12th January 2016 (Confirmed), the Project’s 1st Anniversary
  • PORTSMOUTH: Wednesday 13th January 2016 (Confirmed)
  • CALSHOT: Thursday 14th January 2016 (Confirmed)
  • LYMINGTON: Sunday 17th January 2016 (Confirmed)
  • COWES: Friday 22nd January 2016 (Confirmed)
  • YARMOUTH: Saturday 23rd January 2016 (Confirmed)
  • BEMBRIDGE: Sunday 24th January 2016 (Confirmed)

Would this be convenient? I’m happy to take your advice and feedback with regard to feasibility.

The Lifeboat Station Project by Jack Lowe
The freshly-made 12×10 inch glass portrait of Patch Harvey (Penlee RNLI Coxswain) in the wash tray…


Travelling in my mobile darkroom (a decommissioned NHS ambulance), I use an ancient process known as Wet Plate Collodion to make photographs on glass. Working just as the Victorians used to between the 1850s and 1880s — right at the time when the RNLI was incorporated under Royal Charter — I even use a 110 year old camera and lens.

During each station visit, I would like to make three finished 12×10 inch glass plates:

  • The view of the waters protected by each RNLI station;
  • A portrait of the Coxswain or Senior Helmsman at each station;
  • A group portrait of the crew.

The process isn’t as fast as modern-day digital imaging, so it requires a degree of time and patience from all those involved (see timings below).

However, Wet Plate Collodion is fascinating, poignant, magical and beautiful — I’m more than happy for people to watch as I make the plates.

The Lifeboat Station Project by Jack Lowe
Neena (my mobile darkroom) parked above The Lizard boathouse


If all goes well, each photograph takes about 1 hour to make.

Therefore, I need about an hour of the crew’s time when making their group photograph and an hour or so from the Coxswain/Senior Helm when making his/her portrait.

I would like to arrive at the station just before 9am. It’ll take me a little while to setup, after which I’d like to make the first photograph on my list — the view (where possible) from the station.

That way, once I know that the ancient process is working as it should, I’ll then be ready to make the second and third photographs.

I’m usually ready to make the Coxswain / Senior Helm portrait at around 11:30am and the Crew portrait around 1pm (or vice versa).

In summary (all timings approximate):

  • 0900 – 1000hrs: Arrival and setup;
  • 1000 – 1100hrs: Make the photograph of the view from your station;
  • 1130 – 1230hrs: Coxswain / Senior Helm portrait OR Crew photograph;
  • 1300 – 1400hrs: Crew photograph OR Coxswain / Senior Helm portrait;
  • 1500 – 1600hrs: Another look at the station view as the light dwindles;
  • 1600 – 1700hrs: Pack up.

I hope these timing suggestions which might help in coordinating people at appropriate points?

The Lifeboat Station Project by Jack Lowe
Alethea (Leafy) Dumas, West Mersea crew member, holding her portrait on 12×10 inch glass…


Perhaps you could let me know about any quirks with regard to your particular station and confirm for me the type of Lifeboat(s) and launching method?

It’s also worth noting that I need to park the ambulance close to the boathouse in order to keep the distance from camera to vehicle as short as possible for my processing needs. Please do let me know if there will be any issues to consider on that front.

If you think there’s anything I’ve overlooked, I’m all ears!


If you have any good suggestions for local accommodation, they’d be gratefully received.

I tend to prefer Guest Houses as opposed to hotels — if they’re run by somebody in the RNLI community, then all the better!


If you would like to order any Limited Edition Prints (including pre-ordering prints from your own station) be sure to use the following code when you checkout:


RNLI personnel should feel free to club together using the ‘COLLECTION OF THREE PRINTS’ option (found on every ordering page) in conjunction with the discount code for even greater savings.

Pre-order prints now to secure the lowest edition numbers:

Pre-order South England PrintsBrowse All Prints



I’m very happy to undertake private commissions, which are now being requested more and more as I make my way around the coastline.

Find out how to commission your portrait on this dedicated page:



I’ve been overwhelmed by the sentiment from stations who’ve already been involved.

You can track the Project as it takes shape on the Mission Map and via the usual Social Media channels:


I’m aware that gathering the crew may not be the easiest logistical exercise when they’re not required for a shout. However, as the Project progresses, I’m finding that the RNLI Family are feeling they’re taking part in something very special.

I shall look forward to hearing from you soon.

Please reply using the email that brought you to this page or use the Contact Form here:

Contact Jack