One might think that in these days of ‘there’s an app for that’ lighthouses were past their best before date. Think again. Where once mariners relied on beacons of fire on a hill top to warn of rocks or reefs, most sea faring vessels now have navigational GPS. However, we all know that digital technology can fail, so when it comes to the safety of those at sea, having an analogue backup in the shape of a 100ft tall queen chess piece is no bad thing.
Technological advances didn’t bypass lighthouses either, with solar energy and LED lightbulbs being introduced to save on costs and maintenance. As with many other structures though, many lighthouses have been decommissioned and some now host homeowners and hotel guests. Others are preserved by local volunteers for tourists to enjoy, with some gaining heritage status.
Along with safety, lighthouses provide great photographic opportunities. One of the world’s most reproduced photos, taken by Jean Guichard in December 1989, is of a lighthouse, its keeper and a gigantic wave. The keeper, Théodore Malgorne was intrigued by the noise of Guichard’s helicopter and opened the door. He disappeared back inside just in time. We’ve selected 18 images of lighthouses that capture the romance and drama of these glorious landmarks.