The Lifeboat Station Project — a huge, historical photographic portrayal of the RNLI — is now in its fourth year.
If possible, I’d like to visit your station soon.
On this page, you should find everything you need to know under these (clickable) headings:
- PROPOSED ITINERARY
- PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESS & AIMS
- OTHER LOGISTICS
- ACCOMMODATION REQUEST
- NEW: PODCAST
- ORDERING FROM THE SHOP (with your RNLI Crew Discount)
- PRIVATE COMMISSIONS
- FOLLOWING THE PROJECT
INTRODUCTION TO THE PROJECT: BEHIND THE GLASS
A short film by the RNLI, released in October 2016
Galleries: The photographs made so far
Ultimately, there will be a book and exhibition of all the photographs. Both are set to be huge fundraisers for the RNLI.
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 / Helm portrait
These prints will be included with any print orders from the station.
If there are no orders from the station, they can be collected in due course from RNLI HQ in Poole.
In addition, I offer a 20% print discount to RNLI personnel who’d like to make purchases in the shop (see below).
There’s been an incredible amount of media attention too. I’ve put together a page of highlights here:
MISSION 15: PROPOSED ITINERARY
As you may have gleaned from the 2015 Ops Circular, I shall be visiting every Lifeboat Station in the UK and Ireland over the next few years.
On this particular journey, I’d like to visit these stations on your stretch of coastline:
- 101 – KESSOCK: Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd June 2018 (CONFIRMED)
- 102 – INVERGORDON: Tuesday 5th June 2018 (CONFIRMED)
- 103 – LOCH NESS: Friday 8th June 2018 (CONFIRMED)
- 104 – BUCKIE: Sunday 10th June 2018 (TO BE CONFIRMED)
- 105 – MACDUFF: Tuesday 12th June 2018 (TO BE CONFIRMED)
- 106 – FRASERBURGH: Thursday 14th June 2018 (TO BE CONFIRMED)
- 107 – PETERHEAD: Saturday 16th / Sunday 17th June 2018 (TO BE CONFIRMED)
- 108 – ABERDEEN: Tuesday 19th / Wednesday 20th June 2018 (TO BE CONFIRMED)
- 109 – STONEHAVEN: Friday 22nd June 2018 (TO BE CONFIRMED)
- 110 – MONTROSE: Sunday 24th June 2018 (TO BE CONFIRMED)
- 111 – ARBROATH: Tuesday 26th / Wednesday 27th June 2018 (TO BE CONFIRMED)
- 112 – BROUGHTY FERRY: Friday 29th / Saturday 30th June 2018 (TO BE CONFIRMED)
How does this sound to you? I’m happy to take your advice and feedback with regard to feasibility.
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 around 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 / Helm portrait at around 11:30am and the Crew portrait around 1pm (or vice versa).
During British Summertime Hours, there is also the option of making a photograph in the early evening (see below).
In summary, here are the suggested and approximate timings:
- 0900: Arrival;
- 0930-1000hrs: Setup;
- 1000 – 1100hrs: Make the photograph of the view from your station;
- 1130 – 1230hrs: Coxswain / Helm portrait OR Crew photograph;
- 1300 – 1400hrs: Crew photograph OR Coxswain / Helm portrait;
- 1500 – 1600hrs: Perhaps another photograph of the station view as the light dwindles;
- 1700 – 1800hrs (BST OPTION ONLY): Crew photograph OR Coxswain / Helm portrait;
- 1800 – 2000hrs: Pack up
I hope these timing suggestions which might help in coordinating people at appropriate points?
PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESS & AIMS
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 1905 camera and lens.
During each station visit, I would like to make three finished 12×10 inch glass plates:
- The view from the station (or as near as possible) of the waters protected by your crew;
- A portrait of the Coxswain or Helm(s) at each station;
- A group portrait of the crew.
If time and resources allow, there is also scope to make a portrait of ALB Mechanics and a group photograph of your female crew members for my Women of the RNLI collection.
Please could you let me know if there’s anybody who’d like to be involved in the latter?
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.
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 (‘Neena’) 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.
Here are Neena’s dimensions:
- HEIGHT: 2.75m (9ft)
- WIDTH: 2.05m (6ft 9inches)
- LENGTH: 6.5m (21ft 6inches)
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!
Lately, crew members have also been kindly putting me/us up in their own homes, which has been excellent…not least as it keeps costs down.
You may already be aware that I make sound recordings. If you see me with a microphone, I’ll be gathering material for my podcast called Postcards from the Coast.
If there’s someone who you think would be happy to speak to me about life at the station, do let me know.
It could be a current or former crew member, or even somebody affiliated to the station in some other way. I’m interested in dialects, rescue stories and specialist local knowledge.
You can listen to previous episodes of Postcards from the Coast here:
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST
THE SHOP: RNLI DISCOUNT
If you would like to purchase anything from The LSP Shop (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 to secure the lowest edition numbers:
Reserve a PrintShop
TIPS FOR BUYING 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:
FOLLOWING THE PROJECT
I’ve been overwhelmed by the reactions from the 100 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: