Lighthouses and photography go together like Thomas Kinkade paintings … and lighthouses. By their very nature, lighthouses exist in some of the most idyllic and chaotic places in the world, where storms are common and the grandeur of the sea meets the land. Sometimes violent and powerful, sometimes calm as a mountain lake, a picture of a lighthouse can capture the full range of human emotions, so long as the camera rests in the right hands.
To celebrate these works of both nature, architecture, and the people behind the lens, we’ve sought out 18 pictures that celebrate all that is glorious in lighthouse photography.
Tourlitis Lighthouse by Evangelos Stephanou
Situated atop a tiny jut of rock off the island of Andros in Greece, this small and steadfast house is a mixture of human endevor and nature that have stood against years of erosion. Weathered steps lead off into the clifface showing where the sea has reclaimed the land around this outcropping.
Hafeneinfahrt Lindau – Bodense by pingallery
The southernmost lighthouse harbor entrance in Germany, the lighthouse on the right was made in 1812 with the rest of the harbor taking twenty more years to finish. On the left is the Bavarian lion. This photo counterpoints the traditional with the modern as a sleek ship slides along beside it the two-hundred year-old masonry.
Bell Rock Lighthouse by Ian Cowe
A dozen miles off the Scottish coast, where some of the finest whiskey is made, the sense that this lighthouse sits directly atop the water is not much of an illusion. Only from above can one see the submerged rocks that hold this above the lapping waves captured in the foreground.
Whiteford Cast-Iron Lighthouse Storm Rage by Matthew Jones
Ironworks often adorn lighthouses, but this English masterpiece uses it from base to crown. Though this causes some oxidation, as seen around the works near the doorway, it also allows the monument to stand against the often violent sea around it.
Big Sable Point Lighthouse by Rob Sims
Claims that this simple lighthouse is haunted is perpetuated by the unpredictable weather that requires it also be a lightning rod, seen here in operation by gentleman adventurer Robert Sims. Though we can’t suggest enduring the danger that such a photo requires, we applaud the results wholeheartedly.
Petit Minou Lighthouse by Maina Kerbrat
At a distance, the Petit Minou could be mistaken for a modern work, but with the weatherbeaten stones in the foreground, it’s easy to witness how the building is actually a piece of history. Still in operation, this guides ships through the limited safe route around the submerged rocks lining the roadstead of Brest.
St. Joseph Lighthouse Encased by John Burzynski
Outfitted with its own webcam, the St. Joseph only appears to be an Antarctic marvel. In truth, it sits on Lake Michigan and was coated in ice during what is colloquially known as the Polar Vortex. A stark example of the madness of weather that surrounds the Great Lakes region.
Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse by Alberto Ghidotti
Texture is the key to this photograph, which enshrines the profound work that goes into the creation of a lighthouse by showing the craftsmanship in unadorned relief of this Argentinian sentinel.
Porthcawl Point Lighthouse by Steve Garrington
Photographer Steve Garrington chronicled the buffeted Porthcawl Point just to show how this tiny titan endures raging seas on a regular basis. Huge swells crashing over it are common, with the eternal red eye cutting through the blown spray to warn seafarers during the choppiest of tides.
Portland Head Light by Michael Blanchard
Cape Elizabeth in Maine has never looked so idyllic or artful as it does in this shot from Michael Blanchard, who has made it his life’s work to show the glory and the heartache that comes with a life beside the sounding sea. Though hard to believe, this is untouched by brush or software.
Fanad Head Rainbow by Jolene Hanson
This could be chopped into several shots, each one beautiful. As a storm abates, the menacing clouds can be seen lurking over the lighthouse, juxtaposed with the clean blue and the dainty rainbow, assuring the tiny white homestead that all is well, for now.
Porto Lighthouse by Veselin Malinov
Actually a pair of images blended together, this captures the violence that most lighthouses must survive in order to aid vessels to find safe harbor. Braving a furious sea off the coast of Portugal, the Porto silently states how small humanity’s endeavors are when pitted against an angry Atlantic.
Lorain Lighthouse by Rona Proudfoot
Easily mistaken for a bucolic cottage, the Lorain rests on Lake Erie and is a massive draw for those visiting Ohio, due in part to its charm when placed against the brutal storms that will often whip against it.
La Corbiere Lighthouse
Another photo that could easily be mistaken for a painting, pre-dawn blues color the landscape offering a peace and serenity that embodies the spirit of the lonesome lighthouse and the tiny strip of road that connects it to humankind’s world.
Victoria Beach Lighthouse Sunset by jswolfphoto
The Victorian is a curiosity of a bygone era that is nestled against cliffs, rather than standing proudly on a rocky outcropping. Few make the climb and take the time to capture this shot, but California natives know that it’s well worth the hike.
Tower of Hercules by Anibal Trejo
Constructed in the age of the Holy Roman Empire, this is the only lighthouse from that time that still operates today. While much of Rome has fallen to ruin and rot, due to the sea air and neglect, the Tower of Hercules has been maintained through millennia to keep ships of every nation safe.
Completed in 1990, the Jeddah Light of Saudi Arabia is the largest lighthouse in the world. While not as impressive in architecture as others on this list, it’s proof positive that someone must always maintain the light at the end of the tunnel, and the beacon at the shore.
Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse
Part castle, part machine, this small Danish light bears a low profile due to being placed atop a sandy region, rather than sunk into bedrock like many of its cousins. Beautifully rendered here, it’s an indicator of how even the land can be a difficulty for the stalwarts of the shore.