Amory Ross är bara 22 och hoppas kunna bli professionell marinfotograf på heltid.
How did you start with sailing photography?
I was doing a writing internship at Sailing World Magazine in Newport, R.I., during the summer of 2004 (I was 19 years old) when the entire office left on the Newport to Bermuda Race. I lucked out and got the press pass to the UBS Trophy between Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing for a week of incredible AC action. I had a half-decent camera and found my way onto the photo boat with greats like Daniel Forster and Thierry Martinez. It was easily the most memorable experience of my recent youth — flying around the Cup boats listening to the other photographers yell at the boat driver in five different languages!! While at that point I had no idea how to use a camera, the composition of my photos was very good and Sailing World ran a double page photograph in that issue. I went back to school at the end of the summer, started buying the “right” equipment, and haven’t looked back since.
Which picture are you most satisfied with?
That’s a tough question. There are so many different things to look for — some pictures can be beautiful, others can be intense and full of action. Every once in a while you get something that does both, and those are the pictures I’m really proud of. Taking a modern carbon racer full of high-tech gear and technology and making them look beautiful, something more than just another racer going around the course, that is a real challenge.
Best regatta to shoot?
I’m still very young and haven’t had the opportunity to cover a lot of regattas, but my favorite from this past year was Key West Race Week. It was an incredible experience because it was near dangerous. I was alone in my boat and really pushing the edge with where I would put myself. The inshore racing was very tight making for great depth of field and crowded pictures. Incredibly exciting conditions as well. It was a very nasty combination of sun, wind, and water that really brings out the best in the sport. The kind of weather that makes most people want to go home early and look at photos on their computer of everyone else who was crazy enough to stay on the water. If you can capture the power and pain from that kind of a day, that’s what I condsider to be a great day. I would also really like to get into offshore sailing because of the extreme weather and sailing conditions. It is something very few photographers will ever get to see.
Worst regatta to shoot?
Grey ones. Photographers like to think that we can take great pictures of most any kind of boat — big, small, classic, modern, fast, slow, offshore, inshore. But on a grey, windless day, that becomes almost impossible. There is no contrast between the sky and the water, and nobody is doing anything but waiting for race committee to send them home. Sunny windless days there’s plenty to do with reflections and such, but without sun or colors, that too becomes very difficult.
Who inspires you (other photographers)?
The always-there-and-always-talented Theirry Martinez, Carlo Borlenghi, and Gilles Martin-Raget. I have always stolen my fathers sailing magazines for the pictures, and everytime I would rip a picture out for my wall at school, I would see one of those three names. In many ways that is where I learned how to look at the sport; staring endlessly at their images for the last 10 years. Unfortunately my father never saw the majority of their stuff ever again! But I am always impressed by their way of looking at things from a different perspective. Each one is different and they have an amazing eye for detail.
What gear do you usually use/favor (camera/lenses)?
As I am on a tight “out of school” budget, I use a less expensive camera than other pros. But since they are changing so rapidly, I put my investment into the lenses which, if I take care of, will last forever. I currently use the Canon 5D with a 15mm fisheye, two zooms, and a 400 mm. I personally like to use the 400 mm most because it gets you very tight (a term I learned working at Sailing World Magazine that first summer…), but it is definitely the hardest to use given its tremendous length and weight.
Any advise for those who want to become a better sailing photographer?
Preparation. Part of the reason I have done so well to begin with is because of my extensive racing background. I have a picture in mind before I set out to take it, and I now exactly where, when, and how it will happen. Even better, if you can communicate that idea with your driver before it does happen, you will have a much easier time setting up the camera and composition for when it does. Although this isn’t always the case — things happen when they weren’t supposed to or weren’t expected. If your gear is prepared and ready, you will have a better chance at catching that unique opportunity.
How do you see sailing photography develop in the future?
That is a good question, with a not so good ending. Unfortunately the market is changing so fast that for many, a camera is almost unnecessary. Digital and high-definition video will be a major factor, given the speed with which they are developing and improving. I think for the most part, with only few exceptions, magazines will disappear and we will see online editions with instant gratification that anybody amateur with a cheep camera or cell phone can deliver for free. It will be very hard to be a professional still photographer unless people want, and are willing to pay for, the highest quality for commercial use. Hopefully that is where I will end up!!