The Yacht Week Photographer - The Preparation

Preparation, preparation, preparation!

My 5 week assignment shooting for The Yacht Week, the biggest party on water, is only a month away! I thought I'd share with you the preparation a Yacht Week Photographer goes through to ensure the shots get taken and delivered in such a short turn around!

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I am challenged every day to capture compelling candid and timeless pictures of people having the time of their lives in some of the most exotic locations on earth. It's the perfect environment and all the things you need to get killer photos, making an absolute pleasure to shoot.

There is nothing worse than being ill-prepared and having to take time out to organize yourself. You look unprofessional and could miss the shot of the week! 

Here's my list of the 5 most important things I do to prepare for The Yacht Week.

Seawater, Alcohol and Cameras Don't Mix

When you are shooting on boats 24 hrs day, 6 days a week, the probability of your equipment going in the drink increases exponentially. When alcohol is around you it takes it to the next level!

Water damage is a photographer's worst nightmare, so I purchased a waterproof housing for my Sony A7 and waterproof backpack to transport my editing suite each day.

When taking a dingy from the shore or between boats I usually avoid overcrowded trips and people who are heavily intoxicated. Remember, your entire lively hood is in your backpack and you don't want to be on capsizing mini crafts!

Reliable Power

When you rolling off 2,000 shots a day from a 7am sunrise to 11pm nightclub shots, you need power. Lots of it.

The charter boats often do not have reliable enough power to sufficiently charge your camera, laptop, flash and iPhone batteries. Most boats have a generator that is only switched on when the boat is motoring along. I ask the skipper when he will be turning it on and I make sure I let him know my power needs during the day. The Yacht Week Skippers are super helpful and are usually more than accommodating to help you shoot the day.

When charging onboard, I either charge my equipment in a bedroom (driest place with minimal foot traffic) or a secure place at the skippers navigation table or lounge. Be careful about where you leave it as meals are being prepared in these areas and boats can move around a lot when under sail.

I have an Anker PowerCore Edge 20,000 in case of emergencies to charge everything but my Laptop. Its larger than usual but offers the largest charge for my needs. 

I also pack two international power converters as the charger ships in any location can include a number of power points (EUR, US, AUS, GB etc).

Storage

You will tear through storage while on holiday. I take about 2,000 shots a day and usually don't have time to make selections until after the week when I can sit down at a cafe. So I grab three 64GB SD cards for my Sony A7, and some mini SD cards for the GoPro. 

At the end of each day I dump them onto my 1TB Lacie External Hard Drive and make a back up of it on another one. I am so happy with this hard drive's durability, and ability to take the punishment of packing and unpacking it everyday around boats.

Again, just a warning to always be conscientious of where you are putting your gear: Last year I had an external hard drive fall to the floor during rough seas, causing the USB port on it to break. I had to wait a month to take the drive to a data recovery company in London to retrieve the pictures!

Sun Protection

The Mediterranean is a bright place. Sun protection, be it suncream, long sleeve shirts, or sunglasses is super important to your long term health while on assignment.

Suncream is usually always available onboard but I have UV sunnies with a strap attached so you can quickly whip them off to take a shot without having to put them down. If they go in the drink, they float! Double win.

Another unconventional piece I pack is a scarf! Its weird but I use it to further shield the sun from my eyes by wearing it like a Hijab (traditional headscarf) - over time you will thank me for it. I put the scarf over the laptop and my head while I edit to create a constant and lower light environment in cafe.

Day Pack

As a Yacht Week Photographer you need to be a flexible one man band, capable of surviving while shooting for most of the day. 

Other than the usual camera equipment and other electronics in my dry bag, I pack toiletries and a change of clothes (to shower off the back of the boat before the night party / dinner) and swimmers.

 

I hope thats helped you prepare for your possible adventures shooting on boats! Is there something I've missed? What do you think is the most important this to prepare for while on assignment? I am keen to hear your stories.