Photographer Alex Ingram spends time with the wardens of the small, remote islands scattered off the UK coast – people who live their lives in extreme solitude.

Photographer Alex Ingram spends time with the wardens of the small, remote islands scattered off the UK coast – people who live their lives in extreme solitude.

Having grown up in St Davids, Pembrokeshire – the UK’s smallest city – photographer Alex Ingram understands what it’s like to live in a tiny community.

However, St Davids’ population of 1,841 dwarfs those explored in The Gatekeepers, the London-based photographer’s ongoing project. The series, which he started shooting last year, sees him visit the remote islands scattered off the UK coast, spending time with the lone ‘wardens’ that watch over them.

With limited access to the mainland and tasked with the responsibility of preserving the islands for future generations, the titular gatekeepers – most of whom come from scientific backgrounds – live their lives in extreme isolation.

“I’m a very nosy person, and I use photography as a tool that enables me to enter into people’s lives and to tell their stories,” he explains. “The wardens lives are so different to my own life in London, and there is almost a sense of escapism involved.”

“Visiting these tiny, remote islands is like a journey into another world that I am completely fascinated by. I want to question and explore the way that the wardens have adapted to living in such remote locations and how they overcome the daily obstacles that living in a place like that throws at them.”

So far, the ongoing long-term project has covered four islands: Skomer, Lundy, Bardsey & Skokholm. He has spent at least a week on each, observing and photographing the wardens as they oversee the daily upkeep of their surroundings, as well as conducting research in the delicate ecosystems and wildlife that share their home.

For Ingram, the isolated existence – off-grid, stripped-back, truly remote – operates as an antidote to the ills of modern life. Away from the sweaty commutes, passive-aggressive emails and four-hour meetings, The Gatekeepers depicts a lonely life. But equally, a far simpler one.

“Having spent the past year living with the wardens on these islands and experiencing first hand what it’s like living there and how they have adapted to their isolated environment has made me reevaluate the things I have in my life.”

“Sure, I’m not going to suddenly get rid of all the gadgets that I have in my house that make my life easier, but I have a new appreciation of what I do have, and I’m certainly not going to be queuing up for the next iPhone to be released!”

See more of Alex Ingram’s work on his official website

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