Photoboat Cameraman

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As we leave the slipway at the old harbour in Gordon’s Bay, the day seems pretty calm with flattish water, which is perfect for the boat photo shoot. Within 500 metres of the harbour entrance the swell picks up considerably and before the boat reaches the plane I am already being thrown around like a lottery ball in the winning selection machine.

Both my legs are splayed as wide as possible for maximum stability while my rear end is firmly seated on the cushioned seat in front of the boat’s centre console.

My camera is at the ready with the viewfinder banging between my eyebrow and cheekbone as the boat lurches over the increasing swell. Luckily I have stored my camera backpack in one of the storage compartments on deck or the added weight might well see me going over the side in a tight turn.

The photo boat that I’m on bullies its way through the swell until both boats stop in close proximity to each other to discuss the course of action for the shoot.


Before going to all the trouble of getting the photo boat and the review boat to the slipway, it is necessary to check what the weather is doing. If the weather for
the day suits what you need to get out of the photo shoot, then it’s a go! Don’t waste your time and money pulling two boats down to the slipway, only to find that there is a four-metre swell with a 35-knot wind.


A quick discussion takes place between the review boat driver and the photo boat to determine where the photo boat will be in relation to the review boat being photographed; how many runs past the photo boat are required and discussed; plus the different speeds that the review boat needs to achieve.


One of the biggest technical issues you need to consider when taking photos on a boat is camera shake. Motorised boats typically suffer from excessive movement
and vibration which then gets transferred to the camera. To reduce camera shake, use faster shutter speeds and if possible, use a camera that offers vibration
reduction or image stabilisation.


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