Top tips on the key areas of yacht photography
Last updated: 21/02/2017
As easy as a yacht photographer may make it look, stunning superyacht photography is no accident. Once you have selected the right photographer for your marketing images, there are many other factors that must be considered to allow for impressive superyacht images.
Yachting Pages looks into the factors that can determine the success or failure of your yacht images, from lighting and location to post-production editing, resolution and delivery.
Yacht photography: What to look for in your yacht images
EssenceThe essence of photographing a yacht is to convey the feel of that specific yacht in the best possible way. Take into consideration the light, composition and design and what message you are trying to convey.
Lighting and compositionThe challenge when photographing the exterior is to create a strong and powerful image whilst also capturing the architecture of the yacht. The location and light will be a key factor in the final feel of the image.
Photographing a yacht in the morning creates an emotive image, allowing the sunlight to flow over your scene. David Churchill explained, “Dusk is a great time to shoot both exteriors and interiors, so its best if the shoot runs over a number of days. You might therefore want to factor in extra time for your photographer to get that perfect yacht image.”
Composition and placementWhen photographing interiors, great care and consideration of the placement of items and objects within the frame is paramount; too much will look crowded, too little can look bare, clinical and unused.
Compositions should not be over complicated, there may be numerous objects within the frame, but there should never be any doubt as to what the subject actually is. David said, “Placement of objects on the yacht is crucial to a strong, well-composed shot that has a bit of depth to it. I take more time preparing the scene than in capturing the image: I feel that the styling should not be too obtrusive, but can’t be too bland either. This can be quite a balancing act.
“It’s very easy to shoot yachts in a very cheesy way, with champagne buckets left, right and centre, and unbelievably complicated flower arrangements that I feel are more suited to weddings and funerals than aboard a superyacht.
“Personally, I try to use simple flower arrangements that don’t detract from the design of the yacht itself, but enhance it. However, you must keep in mind the preferences of whoever commissioned the shoot.”
ScaleTo ensure that the yacht design is represented at its best, it is important to have many variations of scale, from general overview shots to tight detailed shots in both landscape and portrait. As an example, photographing exteriors from the air creates just as powerful an image as tight macro shots of the deck.
PostproductionThe process doesn’t end once the shoot has finished, the postproduction stage should improve, not over-power the photograph. The yacht photographer should create a final image that has punch, but doesn’t look artificial. This is a fine balance and is one of the most important.
Format, resolution and deliveryThe format, resolution and delivery of the yacht images will vary depending on the final application and intended use of the images in hand.
David explained, “I sometimes think the resolution of some digital cameras today is unnecessarily large at 60 megapixels. To get a nice format, I often stich two images together in a landscape format, which gives a very nice panoramic image. I use this proportion very often as it gives a very filmic feel to the image, but these are often still large files at around 100 megabytes even when compressed as a JPEG. I therefore will often reduce the size of these for the client as they rarely will need something this large.”
In order to brief a superyacht photographer and choose the perfect yacht photographs, all of these elements must come together. As Ansel Adams said, “You don’t just take a photograph, you make it.”
Current photographic trends and technologies
New photographic trends and increasing technologies within the industry allow for exciting possibilities in marine and yacht photography, but how does this translate to stunning superyacht photography?
David explained, “Things have come so far in the last 10 years. When I started shooting yachts 12 years ago, I was shooting medium format film. I now use a state-of-the-art Phase One digital back, which gives incredible resolution and tonal range.
“For the exterior, I like to use the latest Canon cameras. These SLR’s are constantly improving, especially in the quality of the images at high ISO sensitivity. This is very useful when shooting yachts at dusk from a tender or helicopter where you need fast shutter speeds to freeze the image, but where the lack of light means you need to increase the sensitivity of the sensor up to quite high ISO’s.
“Not very long ago, this meant the image would be very grainy, but as each new camera comes out the ‘noise’ is reduced. I do think that currently the DSLR’s are unnecessarily chasing ever higher resolutions, with the new Canon 5D having 50MPS – I hope they will stop this soon and concentrate on more relevant developments.”