Architectural photographer Quintin Lake shares with Togspace his current project, The Perimeter. A 11,000km walk around the coast of mainline Britain.
Hi Quintin, thank you for sharing your project 'The Perimeter' with us. I think that the first question that I must ask would be where did the inspiration for such a huge project come from?
The inspiration came from previous photography projects based on walking the length of the rivers Thames and Severn from source to the sea. When I got to the coastal sections on these projects I was really inspired by the diversity of what I was seeing. I felt this was the key to allow me to see Britain with fresh eyes which had previously eluded me.
You’ve now completed 91% of the project and traveled just over 10,034 km, has there been one leg of the journey that you have enjoyed the most and could find yourself going back in the future?
This is such a difficult question! Ardmamurchan, Knoydart and Assynt in Scotland have my heart. But I was also expecting these sections to be magnificent but they were physically very heavy going. The Welsh coast path was so good I wished it lasted longer. But the section I enjoyed the most was Northumbria as I had no preconceptions and I was feeling a melancholy after spending 200 days in Scotland and crossing the border back to England. What I found was one magical location after another, friendly people and a really deep connection with history, Walking to Holy island at low tide under a full moon are the steps of this journey that are pressed strongest in my soul.
Traveling 11,000km around the British mainland coastline over five years, you can be away from home for up to six weeks at a time - which presents many challenges and planning in terms of what gear you take with you. Typically on each journey, what would be your most common camera set-up?
I allow myself about 4KG for camera gear out of the 16-20KG that I carry in total. My camera gear is a Canon 5dsr and 16-35 & 70-300L lenses and a Gitzo carbon fibre tripod. Unless it's raining I attach the camera on my shoulder strap with a capture clip so the camera is accessible at all times.
Over the last five years, you’ve managed to build a huge archive of images. One thing in particular that stands out for me personally is the vast variety of images ranging from landscapes, macro, architecture and wildlife. Is there one image that has stood out for you and why?
Gourock Outdoor Pool in Inverclyde. Gourock lido is still without water at the end of winter when I passed, but it's freshly painted blue looks liquid at first glance until you notice the floats resting on the base of the pool. I think the image works well on an abstract as well as a symbolic level.
Since starting this project, what has surprised you the most as you’ve traveled the coastline of Britain?
The biggest surprise is how remote the island is. The built-up area of the UK is only 5% and when you get away from towns and dog walking areas things often feel very remote. In Scotland I'd often go days without seeing anyone. Culturally I've been delighted by how cohesive and distant different communities are as represented by the variety of different accents even within each of of the three nations on the mainland.
In a feature with the BBC, you mention that there are times where the project has taken you off the grid for multiple day’s at a time and you’ve had to be self-sufficient with batteries, food, wild camping and sometimes not seeing anyone one paths for days at a time. Overall, how have you found being off the grid with just yourself and your camera?
I'm never lonely in nature so the isolation aspect of things is no problem for me. I need to be alone in order to concentrate on looking. When I walk with friends or family, which I also enjoy, it's impossible to really concentrate on one's environment so photographic images and opportunities are missed. When I return to civilization having a seat to sit on or simply being surrounded by four walls to keep out the incessant wind feels like an astonishing luxury.
Since you left London on April 17, 2015 you've managed to get through at least five pairs of shoes which really isn't surprising!, How has your equipment lasted and have you had to replace / re-think any parts of your gear you travel with?
I started with what long-distance hikers classify as ultralight gear which is made of cuben fibre, sil-nylon, dynema and fabrics like that and lightweight fell running shoes. Most of it didn't last more than a thousand miles. When I got to Scotland, where most off the walking is off-trail everything started getting shredded so I switched to heavy leather boots and winter-mountaineering clothing. Also many powerbanks I tried didn't supply anything like the advertised power so I tried out 1/2 a dozen before I had one that worked efficiently. I started with a table top tripod and updated the size of the tripod twice as I progressed as you need something tall enough to get over vegetation and study enough to deal with some wind.
It's been brilliant to be able to showcase such an extensive project on Togspace. Once the project is complete, are there any plans in the pipeline for the completed project to become a book and exhibition?
Very much so. I plan to make an illustrated book, possibly in volumes and, if I can get sufficient public interest and funding, A traveling photo exhibition. This project is 100% self-funded so the next step has to make business sense too.