Saturday, February 28, 2015

Insane shift change of French lighthouse keepers

Lighthouse of Kereon  
The lighthouse has been automated in 2004 and insane shift changes no longer take place.

Lighthouse of "la Jument" photo from Jean Guichard 
and the guard Theodore Malgorne, in the storm.

In the picture, lighthouse keeper Théodore Malgorne looks like he’s taking a breath of fresh air. In reality, he’s frightened and waiting for rescuers to take himself and his colleagues away from the dangerous waves and life-threatening situation.
In fact, the keepers had been living in fear of death during the 1989 storm and at one point had taken refuge in the lantern room of the tower.
Waves the night before had smashed through the lower windows of the tower, causing the structure to flood, washing away everything in its path including the television, table, chairs, coffee maker and even the refrigerator.
The keepers in fact were waiting to be rescued by helicopter.

Erected on a stone called "La Jument" , "Ar-Gazec" in breton.
Passage of Fromveur near the island of Ouessant, Sea of Iroise, west Brittany.

When he hears the sound of a helicopter, Théodore steps out of the lighthouse to greet what he thinks is the rescue party.
He realises it’s not who or what he thought; it’s photographer Jean Guichard, who is on-site to capture dramatic images of the waves smashing against the rocks and lighthouse.
Seeing what’s about to unfold before him, Jean presses the shutter-release and grabs several pictures before the moment passes.
Théodore Malgorne is initially oblivious to the wave, but quickly realises what’s about to happen and steps back inside, slamming the door shut before the wave engulfs him, and no doubt saving his life as he goes.
In 1990, Jean Guichard won second prize from World Press for his photograph and over the next few years the image became popular in art and print shops.


Storm in Brittany (video Jean-René Kéruzoré)
February 2014
with pictures of La Jument

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1 comment:

  1. Great blog. Love the story of the photograph. Thanks.

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