This has been quite a journey, one that has unfurled in ways that I could never have imagined when I first conceived it in 2012.
It’s been over five years of extraordinary travels, encounters and stories to tell.
And the best thing of all? There are still 88 RNLI lifeboat stations to visit and three more years to go when the restrictions on our lives eventually relax.
But my vision for this odyssey doesn’t just lie in the photography, sound recordings, films and words. It lies in the funding too.
You see, it is also my vision to show — both to myself and others — that us creators can independently fund our work by being imaginative and progressive when it comes to providing ways for our online community to support us.
Our first port of call doesn’t need to be scrabbling over the same pots of grant money or attaching crass corporate logos to our work.
Naively or not, I truly believe that we can turn to our audiences, our communties — the people who value our work the most. We don’t even need to ask for huge amounts, peppercorn gestures are more than ample.
After all, if we were interested in a topic back in the day, what would we do? We’d subscribe to a magazine or join a membership club. Something like that.
So why not now?
Well, as stalwart followers of my project will testify, I believe that can, does and should happen now.
I won’t bleat on about that here but if you’d like to read more of my thoughts on this topic, I wrote in 2018 called Turning the Tide to Keep Art Alive.
A LOT TO LEARN
When I photographed my first lifeboat station on 12th January 2015, I had a lot to learn in all arenas: the old photographic process I was trying to master; how lifeboat stations work; how people work; how people interact; the size of the task in hand; what to do; what not to do.
The funding side was immediately critical too. To cut a long story story short, I had the purist of intentions that I would make beautiful work, sell Limited Edition Prints and then make a beautiful photo book — a very traditional approach typical of many photographers.
It worked well and I’m proud to this day that print sales continue to cover the significant cost of making The Lifeboat Station Project.
But where would the living come from? I had to think on my feet. Quickly.
Fast forward to 2017 when my friend Richard introduced me Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that enables creators to receive monthly pledges from their online communities, their crowds.
I immediately saw its potential and how it might work with The LSP and, boy, did it ever! It saved the project from the brink of collapse and finally started to give me some breathing space.
However — and this is a huge however to which I implore any creator reading this to take note — the reasons were stacking up as to why I should seriously consider leaving the platform.
Some are too numerous to go into here but, from my perspective, it had become too costly, too corporate and too powerful. To be frank, it just didn’t feel very Jack Lowe.
And what if Patreon crashes and burns? What on Earth would happen then?
True to form, it was time to go my own way — to try and create something independent, something that was much more in keeping with my vision and the story of The Lifeboat Station Project.
I started researching what to do and, although daunting, the answers gradually became clearer.
Then came the news of Lockdown 2.0, which I saw as my chance to finally make it happen.
So, I worked out what to do. Then I did it.
THE LSP SOCIETY
Now it gives me great pleasure to announce The LSP Society — my independent answer to the increasingly powerful ‘social’ platforms.
The LSP Society is a place where my online community can support The Lifeboat Station Project right from within these pages.
Have a fresh peek at the side drawer menu (accessed from the top right corner of any page on this site) and you’ll find a new section listing all the new pages I’ve built for The LSP Society…
…or click here to go straight to the opening page:
You can pledge whatever you’re comfortable with from just £1 per month to unlock extra films, audio recordings, blog posts and webinars in the Members’ Area.
All pledges go towards the creation of the project and enable instant access to the Members’ Area — members’ names will also feature in a special thank you page in the final book.
You’ll have instant access to all kinds of things, including the audio recording aboard the last operational Tyne class lifeboat or that very special conversation with Howth RNLI Station Mechanic, Ian Sheridan.
Here’s a few seconds of the latter:
Various other things are now hosted in the Members’ Area too like the short film I made in Lockdown 1.0 called Completing the Picture or Sights, Sounds, Shannon which I made on exercise with the Eyemouth RNLI lifeboat crew last year.
In short, all blog posts, audio recordings, films and webinars — whether public or members-only — will now appear right here within these pages. You won’t have to go anywhere else.
For me, the importance of this new step cannot be overstated because the project’s foundations underpin its entire creation.
With every evolution, those foundations become stronger and stronger.
If you’ve seen/heard me shouting about Patreon over the last three years and found that it wasn’t for you, I hope this will now be a more appealing option.
I mentioned higher up the page that ‘I had a lot to learn’ at the start of the project. I’m under no illusions that I still have a lot to learn but I find each new step thrilling as I master new ways to run my project in better ways.
This is one of the most progressive steps I’ve made on the entire journey and I hope you’ll join me at the start of this new chapter.
Wishing you fair winds and following seas,
Creator of The Lifeboat Station Project
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