Lowe, J. (2017). About the Project. [online] The Lifeboat Station Project. Available at: http://lifeboatstationproject.com/about/ [Accessed 1 Oct. 2017].
Jack Lowe is undertaking a large scale project, using the Wet Plate Collodian process to document every RNLI station in the UK. His aim for the projects is to eventually publish it as a book as well as produce a large scale exhibition showcasing the work.
The process he’s choosing is rather interesting due to the cost of the process, the ‘ancient’ style, and the fact that he’s using a decommissioned NHS ambulance as his darkroom. The imagery he’s producing is also really well done, as the photographer has considered lighting extremely carefully in order to capture well-compose and well-lit images.
He varies the group shots in terms of placement of subjects, and I like the differentiation with each image. The photographer also photographs individuals within each station, creating a compelling archive of images.
I would argue that the lighting here adds a sense of height and power to the individual. It’s an extremely dignified portrait and if I end up shooting portraits of the lifeboat crew or the land crew, I would hope to show them as rather dignified. Although all of them are rather than modest and don’t really like the idea of being photographed, I think it would create a really good series and emphasise the importance of the work they do. However, their concern with it is that they don’t do the job for recognition, so I’d have to figure out a way to use lighting and composition to create something in between.
Unfortunately I do not have the access to photograph the volunteers in their home, which would have been ideal. I would then have shot images of them sat on the couch or in their garden, looking at Millard’s work for some inspiration, and then use studio lights to enhance the indoor lighting, but also then recognise them as people with families and how they give up a lot of their time for the community.
I think his portraits are really successful, especially with such an old medium, the photographers’ personal investment in this project comes through and viewers can see this easily, which is another reason it engages them so well. The personal element of his work makes it a lot more interesting and viewers can start to recognise the faces behind such an important charity.