I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Ingrid at the recent Copa del Rey, here in Palma, by a mutual friend, and columnist for The Islander, Justin Chisholm. I have been a long-time admirer of her work, having seen many of her photographs over the years in the very best of the Yachting media, and I was thrilled at getting the chance to meet her.
She is a very modest but determined lady, and woe betides anyone who gets in her way as she is about to get that perfect shot of a big fleet start or an impending incident.
I witnessed her “in the zone” just before the TP 52 start on the Wednesday of the Copa del Rey! The offending RIB driver went away with his tail between his legs, no mistake!! These qualities are vital of course, if you are to become the best at your profession.
After meeting Ingrid, who was absolutely charming, I had the inspiration to feature an article about her work in The Islander, but didn’t really know if she would accept my invitation. Fortunately for all of us, she very kindly agreed and I hope you enjoy and appreciate the article and images which she has very generously allowed us to use.
Everybody has become a camera operator these days and photographs have been increasingly devalued. However, to freeze the moment, to capture the essence, to feel the fight, the energy of a crew or yacht with a win within their grasp takes far more than pointing and shooting what lies in front. Years of hard graft, of learning to anticipate a team’s movements, working with the elements no matter how choppy the seas, how good or bad a chase boat is, how strong or light the breeze and add to that a flair of artistry.
I cut my sailing photographic teeth fifteen years back chasing the 18ft skiff fleet down Sydney harbour in a helicopter in a feisty 26 knot Nor’Easter and have not looked back since.
At the 2008 Olympics in China my penchant for high-octane high-perfomance sailboats was further fueled. The 49er race will go down in history when the Danes who won gold after starting almost four minutes behind the rest of the fleet using the Croatian boat. With conditions teetering over the upper limit the skiffs were being knocked down like flies. (Image – 49erOlympics.jpg) This image captured the Brit duo having pitch-poled. I looked up the course. No one else was paying attention but I caught the boat nosedive and the transom remained up for a good thirty seconds.
A great sailing image is not simply a photograph of a boat about to wipe out; it’s more about the look on the helmsman’s face as he suddenly realises that he may have taken things a tad too far and they are on the edge. You need to be in close for that, and that’s where I like to place myself. My trusty RIB driver and I can often be found inches under the windward hull of a catamaran at speed, or making room at the pin-end as a pile up takes place.
At the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup another drama unfolded. Going into the start line a Maxi misjudged the distance and T-boned a Swan 90 Kora 5. Preparing to catch the usual starting sequence my eye followed the bow of the perpetrator. Aghast I snapped furiously and luckily for me, but not for them, caught the moment of impact. Always be on your guard.
The sea is my office and the race course a blank canvas each morning. I like to experiment, to push the image a little and yet always keeping it real. To get as much right in-camera as possible is preferable to long hours at the computer. That way you get to grab a quick dip in the sea post racing and a cooly before settling down to edit for magazine deadlines.
Aside from on-the-water action, sailing is about serenity, joy and the freedom that being out on the open ocean gives us. To capture this pure essence you have to have experienced it for yourself. It’s not just another tropical setting; it’s a moment of escape. It’s not a stormy backdrop to fleet heading for the windward mark; it’s the memory of hitting the shift perfectly as the new breeze filled in. These emotions only come from always being aware of one’s surroundings enhanced by a photographer’s individual style.
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